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Key "Rest of Session" Issues

Ken Pokalsky
April 17, 2015

As we approach the post‐budget session, we wanted to share with Business Council
members our list of key legislation on both our proactive and defense agenda. The following
is our draft list. I welcome your comments on these and other issues of greatest concern to
your business.

SUPPORT

Contract procurement reforms
We are starting discussions with the state on broad-based reforms to the state’s contract procurement process; as an interim step post-budget, we support legislation requiring state agencies to provide complete de-briefs to unsuccessful bidders. See S.3450 (Funke)/A.2029-A (Hevesi).

CPA ownership
47 states allow non-CPAs to be minority owners of accounting firms. New York State should become the 48th. This proposal was in the Executive Budget, passed the Senate, but not the Assembly.

18‐A repeal
We will continue to push for repeal of the remaining $300 million in Section 18-A energy assessments, due to finally expire by the end of 2016. One option is to offset this repeal with a portion of the additional financial settlement windfall revenues that were recently announced.

Icenter
Following success by projects in other states, we support creation of a state information technology innovation center, or iCenter, to allow state agencies to pilot-test technology products. See S.3095 (Funke)/A.690 (Hevesi).

Organized Retail theft
This growing phenomenon costs U.S. business an estimated $30 billion per year. We are supporting legislation to allow more effective prosecution against these well-organized criminal activities. See S.3822 (Venditto)/A.6503 (Cusick).

Pay cards
Using pay cards for wage payment is allowed in New York, but the lack of clear rules limits their use. We support legislation that establishes reasonable standards and 4/17/15 Page 2 of 4 requirements - see S.2590 (Gallivan)/A.3109 (Morelle). Recently, an Attorney General bill was also proposed - S. 4685/A.6811 - which contains unworkable requirements and restrictions.

Restricted Period
The Business Council will be advocating for clarification in the State Finance Law that the restricted period for a procurement contract commences with the earliest written notice of an agency’s solicitation of bids.

RPT administration
The Council on State Taxation rated New York as having the worst property tax administrative system in the U.S., citing lack of standardized assessment practices or a fair appeals process, among other issues. We are supporting several reform initiatives, including a bill that would allow the partial escrow of challenged assessments, patterned on legislation adopted in 2014 for Nassau County.

RPT cap
The Business Council remains a strong supporter of the real property tax cap. Its effectiveness past June 30, 2016 is dependent on extension of New York City rent controls, which expire June 15, 2015. We support a permanent extension, and oppose proposals to weaken the cap and/or provide additional categories of exempt local spending.

SEQRA
We will be proposing legislation to improve the state environmental quality review act by providing project sponsors with more certain and workable timetables for the environmental review of projects.

Scaffold law reform
Applying the generally applicable comparative negligence set forth in CPLR §1411 to cases brought under the “scaffold law” would lower insurance and construction costs for business and government projects alike. Scaffold law reform remains a top Council priority for 2015.

Workers’ Comp Indexing
To help curb the growing cost of workers’ compensation coverage, we are supporting legislation that changes the indexing of maximum comp benefits to the lesser of the state average weekly wage or the average weekly wage in the economic development region in which an employer is located. S.1845 (Gallivan).

OPPOSE

Campaign contributions
There will be a strong push to further limit business engagement in political advocacy, by imposing new lower contribution limits on LLCs, corporations, or both. The Executive Budget would have imposed a $1,000 annual limit on both; there are several similar legislative proposals. See S.60 (Squadron)/A.6975 (Kavanagh).

Citizen Utility Advocate
We continue to oppose the unnecessary expense of creating and providing state funding for a new office of utility advocate, a measure that would replicate existing PSC and Department of Law functions. See S.3356 (Savino)/A.180 (Dinowitz).

Collective Negotiation of Physicians
S.1157 (Hannon) / A.336 (Gottfried) would increase the cost of healthcare for employers by permitting health care providers, including physicians, to collectively bargain with health plans. The bill would allow unrelated physicians to join together for no other purpose than to increase their revenues under a new exemption to New York antitrust laws. The bill is currently on the Senate Health Committee Agenda and has already moved to Ways and Means in the Assembly.

E-Diagnostics
We oppose legislation that would require manufacturers of “digital electronic equipment,” to make their non-trade secret diagnostic and repair information available for sale to third party repairers. This has been introduced as S.3998 (Boyle)/A.6068 (Morelle).

General jurisdiction
This legislation would create “consent based general jurisdiction,” so that a business that registers with the Secretary of State to conduct business in New York is deemed to have consented to the general jurisdiction of the state’s courts. As a result, that business could be sued in New York courts for actions that take place outside of New York. This bill was proposed by the Office of Court Administration in response to a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision. See A.6714 (Weinstein).

GMO labeling
We continue to oppose as unnecessary legislation mandating the labeling of raw agricultural commodities, processed foods, seed, and seed stock produced with “genetic engineering.” See S.485 (LaValle)/A.617 (Rosenthal).

Mandatory nursing ratio
Many health care providers, and businesses, oppose legislation that would mandate expensive and medically unnecessary nursing staff ratio on hospitals and nursing homes throughout the state, increasing costs to the health care system by an estimated $2 to $3 billion annually. See S.782 (Hannon)/A.1548 (Gottfried)

Minimum wage
While rejected in the budget discussions, we will be addressing a range on minimum wage bills, including proposed wage increases, authority for municipalities to set their own wage standards, a repeal of the minimum wage tax credit, changes in the treatment of tipped workers, and others.

Paid family leave
Paid leave will continue to be an active issue on the state and federal
level. The Assembly has already passed legislation - A 3870 (Nolan) – authorizing 12 weeks
of paid leave, as well as increased benefits under the state’s existing disability insurance
mandate. A similar Senate bill - S. 3301 (Klein) – would provide up to six weeks of paid
leave, plus increased disability benefits. A version of this bill was included in the Senate onehouse budget proposal.

State-level TSCA
Legislation has been re-introduced that would direct the Department of Environmental Conservation establish a list of “priority chemicals,” and would ban the sale of “children’s products” that contain one of twelve specified compounds or a priority chemical listed by the DEC. In effect, this would require a state-level “TSCA” program, something the DEC does not have the expertise or resources to implement. See S.4102 (Boyle)/A.5612 (Englebright).