June 7, 2007
Adams meets Governor, legislative leaders to push Council's end-of-session priorities
Business Council President Kenneth Adams held a series of meetings with Governor Spitzer, legislative leaders and key Capitol staffers this week to push the Council's top priorities on energy and other economic development issues, and to express concern about a number of potential last-minute proposals that could hurt the state's competitiveness.
The Council is seeking renewal of low-cost power programs for business, tax reforms to spur growth Upstate, and reform of the Wicks law, among other things. And it is working to block a paid family leave mandate, Internet infrastructure regulation, marketing restrictions for pharmaceuticals, an expanded bottle deposit law and various insurance mandates, among others.
The meetings came as the Legislature works to wrap up the final weeks of the 2007 session. "There is a great deal at stake for business in Albany as the session ends," Adams said. "It's critical that we get our members' point of view into the mix as the decisions are being made."
One top issue on the Council's agenda -- extension of the state's "Power for Jobs" program and its economic development power discounts -- seems to have been resolved, at least for the time being. Governor Spitzer and the leaders agreed in a public negotiating session on Wednesday to extend those programs, which otherwise would expire at the end of June, for one more year. A bill to that effect has passed the Senate and awaits action in the Assembly.
Among the other priorities Adams carried to the Governor and the leaders, the Council is pushing for:
- Adoption of a law to expedite the siting of new electric
generating facilities, with broad project eligibility,
reasonable procedural requirements, and incentives for
- Incentives and cost savings to stimulate economic growth
Upstate and throughout the state -- including reforms
that would strengthen the state's investment tax credit
and that would help reduce the cost of employer-provided
- And a major increase in the thresholds for application of the Wicks law, which now requires multiple construction contracts on public construction projects of over $50,000. Wicks is estimated to add 10 percent or more to the cost of taxpayer-financed construction in the state.
At the same time, Adams expressed his concerns with several proposals the Council opposes, in view of the problems the measures would pose for business generally or for key sectors of the state's economy. These include:
- Proposed mandates that would provide for paid leave
for employees who want to take time off to deal with a
wide range of family concerns. The Council has argued
that the resultant absenteeism would pose major logistical
hassles and overtime costs for many employers, especially
- "Net regulation" bills that would impose costly
new mandates on telecommunications and undo the current
ground rules for the installation and financing of broadband
infrastructure in the state.
- Measures that would interfere in the market for pharmaceuticals,
for example by restricting or disclosing the ways in which
firms help physicians learn about the benefits of the
- Bills to raid health insurance funds to create additional
slush funds for health-care providers.
- A proposal on underwater leases that would make pipeline
siting more difficult.
An enhanced "bottle bill," which would expand deposit requirements to many more kinds of packaged drinks, and then allow the state to capture unclaimed deposit funds.
- A bill that would require public companies to find a
way to allow all their shareholders to participate electronically
in their annual meetings.
And various proposals advanced by unions and trial lawyers, on topics ranging from exclusive remedy in workers' comp cases to striker replacement.