August 16, 2000
seeks members ideas on top legislative issues for 2001
Steering Committee to meet August 23; Board will set priorities at Annual
The Business Council is inviting all members to identify priority issues that The Council should address in its legislative advocacy next year.
This question will be the main focus of a meeting next week of the Steering Committee of The Council's Government Affairs Council. That meeting is set for 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, August 23, at Council headquarters.
Each year, The Council's priority issues are determined by the Board of Directors when it meets at the Annual Meeting in September. The Annual Meeting this year will take place September 20-22 at The Sagamore in Bolton Landing.
"This is a member-driven organization, and the policies that we support are those that our members ask us to support," said Daniel B. Walsh, president of The Business Council.
Several issues that are likely to be the subject of debate in the next legislative session have already emerged, said Elliott Shaw, director of government affairs for The Business Council. These include:
Superfund: Although the Executive Branch has said the state's Superfund for environmental cleanups will remain solvent at least through next March, its eventual need for an infusion of new funds will make refinancing and reform a focus of debate next year, said Ken Pokalsky, director of environmental and regulatory affairs for The Council.
The Business Council has urged lawmakers to tie any refinancing of Superfund to reforms that would make its cleanup procedures more efficient and its liability provisions more fair.
The Council argues that a permanent Superfund refinancing should be part of a comprehensive reform package that:
- Bases cleanup standards on the actual risks posed at a site.
- Provide liability reform for entities that did not cause contamination, and liability releases for entities that clean up sites.
- Includes specific requirements, timetables and incentives for "brownfield" redevelopment projects.
- Apportions the costs of refinancing across all taxpayers, not just the business community.
Further tax cuts: The Council will argue that New York can and should enact more tax reductions and tax-code reforms, Walsh said.
For example, the The Council is evaluating one proposed change, adoption of a "single sales factor" for corporate taxation, that could significantly reduce the tax burden on business.
Corporate taxes are now based on three factors: the percentage of its payroll, global property value, and sales that occur within a state. The Council argues that this effectively encourages companies to locate jobs and plants in other states.
By basing corporate taxes on only one factor, in-state sales, New York can encourage companies to locate their jobs and plants here, Walsh noted.
Workers' compensation: The Council will continue to press for two key workers' compensation reforms-a cap on benefits in cases of permanent partial disability, and the use of objective medical guidelines in such cases.
In addition, The Council is evaluating the effects on workers' compensation costs of "special funds" in the workers' compensation system, especially the so-called "Second Injury Fund," which was created after World War II to encourage employers to hire veterans who had already been injured.
Sixteen other states have already eliminated or reformed similar funds.
Energy: The Council will continue to monitor proposals to extend and/or increase a $78 million energy tax that is due to expire next June. The so-called "systems benefit charge" on all energy bills supports research and development low-income residential customers, and technology programs.
Small business health-care parity: The Council will continue its strong support for this policy, which would give all small businesses access to the same reduced-rate health insurance programs that the state gave some businesses under the Health Care Reform Act (HCRA) of 2000.