Business Groups Speak Out Against "The Dirty Dozen"

Statewide business coalition identifies and condemns job-killing legislation

ALBANY, NY (06/10/2010)(readMedia)-- More than two dozen business groups from across New York assembled in Albany today to voice their opposition to a collection of bills, dubbed The Dirty Dozen, that would kill jobs and severely impede the recovery of the state's economy.

The coalition, representing thousands of job creators, is vehemently opposed to the following bills:

IDA Labor Mandates (S.1241 THOMPSON / A.3659 Hoyt)

This legislation would impose costly and burdensome mandates to economic development projects financed by Industrial Development Agencies.

Martin Act Expansion (S.5768 SCHNEIDERMAN / A.8646 Brodsky)

This bill would expand the power of the Martin Act, which as a result, would significantly jeopardize various components of the state's business community. New York is already one of the most regulated and litigious states in the nation and further expansion of this kind is not only unnecessary, but untimely as well.

Consumer Protection from Deceptive Acts and Practices (S.7301 PERALTA / A.10306 Pheffer)

This bill would greatly increase fines to various businesses that engage in any "unconscionable or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any business, trade or commerce." This legislation is only aimed at increasing fees and fines on private industry in New York State.

Natural Gas Drilling Moratorium (S.7592-A ADDABBO / A.10490-A Englebright)

If enacted, this bill would establish a moratorium on conducting hydraulic fracturing pending the issuance of a report by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA has already concluded on more than one occasion that hydraulic fracturing – a 60-year-old technology – is safe.

Farm Labor Mandates (S.2247-B ONORATO / A.1867-B Nolan / S.7787 ONORATO)

This legislation would inappropriately impose unsustainable wage mandates on private farms and makes the false assumption that these mandates will have no impact on our New York farms. These wage mandates will likely result in fewer jobs for New York farm workers, as more of our food will be produced in other states and other countries.

Restrictive Greenhouse Gas Emissions Limits (S.4315-A THOMPSON / A.7572-A Sweeney)

This legislation would require the Department of Environmental Conservation to impose restrictions on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse emissions from any source, including agriculture, manufacturing, power generation, and fuel processing.

Paid Family Leave Mandate (S.5791 SAVINO / A.8742 Silver)

This legislation would mandate that all employers provide a 12-week paid family leave for its workforce, regardless of the size of the business. A "one size fits all" mandate of this nature does not adequately factor in the wide range of employment situations that are in place throughout New York State.

New York State Workplace Bullying (S.1823-B MORAHAN / A.5414-B Englebright)

This legislation would create a new private cause of action for employees, this proposal would create potential opportunities for employees to embellish certain workplace situations for personal financial gain by claiming to have suffered from "bullying" while at work.

Private Environmental Citizen Suits (S.1730B SCHNEIDERMAN / A.4272 Brodsky)

This legislation would allow private "citizen suits" to be brought in response to alleged violations of the Environmental Conservation Law.

Independent Contractor Classification (S.6194 FOLEY / A.8237-B John / S.5847-C ONORATO / A.9706-B (Part SS))

These bills would have a severe impact on the New York State construction industry, by applying an unnecessary definition of an independent contractor to the state's labor law.

Utility Worker Prevailing Wage Mandates (S.7643 SAVINO / A.404-B John)

This bill would establish unnecessary, bureaucratic and costly new standards for work performed by or for utility companies when conducting excavation. The legislation purports to contribute to public safety, but will only serve to increase job security for the few while the majority is adversely affected.

Service Worker Prevailing Wage Mandates (S.7096-A SCHNEIDERMAN / A.10257-A Gianaris)

This bill would amend the Labor Law to extend wage mandate requirement to private businesses. This legislation would amend the definition of a public agency to include electric and gas utilities. Ultimately the legislation will translate into higher energy cost for all consumer including businesses, the elderly, schools, daycares, local governments and hospitals.

Representatives from the statewide business coalition expressed their objections to the package of job-killing bills:

"If enacted, these bills will be another nail in the coffin of New York's business community. Businesses across the state are striving to compete in a global economy but between New York's overwhelming tax burden and ill-conceived bills like the ones we're targeting today, they're struggling to survive. The Legislature should reject these bills immediately and focus on implementing policies that will improve the state's business climate."

Brian Sampson, Executive Director, Unshackle Upstate

"New York needs to lower costs and taxes to become competitive in a global economy as we try to grow the state's economy out of this recession. Every bill on this list does exactly the opposite. Every one of these bills will kill jobs in New York."

Kenneth Adams, President and CEO, The Business Council of New York State, Inc.

"It should be fairly apparent that increasing New York's already second highest in the nation cost of doing business and imposing new burdens on already struggling employers is not a prescription for economic recovery and job creation, but rather a recipe for continued economic decline. Yet, that's precisely what these bills and many others pending in the Legislature would do. It is high time to face economic reality in Albany - and to stop chasing jobs and people out of our state, as proposals like this continue to do. It is small businesses - the engine of most new job creation - that will turn out economy around, but they can't do it if they are constantly shellacked with higher costs and new mandates. State government needs to get out of the way of job creation, stop making our business climate even worse, and focus instead on policies that will create new opportunities for New Yorkers."

Mike Elmendorf, New York State Director of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)

"New York needs to care more about our family farmers' ability to produce local food for local people. Unless we learn to stand up and say no - to mandates that will turn our farms into factories, to more farm killing taxes and fees and regulations – we will be endangering our local food supply. Everyone who eats needs to care about the business climate for agriculture in New York State."

Julie Suarez, Director of Public Policy, New York Farm Bureau

"The Private Environmental Citizen Suits bill would have serious negative impacts on development in New York State. There are no specific examples of DEC enforcement failures to substantiate the need for deputizing unregulated parties to enforce the environmental statutes. There is no evidence of the failure of DEC to respond to public requests to investigate or enforce violations of the Environmental Conservation Law. The blanket authority provided for in this bill is not substantiated by any requisite need. It should also be pointed out that the environmental suits authorized by this bill are not constrained by the nature or magnitude of the violation. A technical violation of a rule may be prosecuted under the authority of this statute. Citizen Suits are particularly troubling when the economy is in need of stimulus and shovel ready projects. This bill can quickly convert a shovel ready project to a project on hold. Interesting to note that a similar bill was debated and defeated by the full Senate earlier this year."

"The Construction Industry 'Fair Play' Act presents serious problems for many construction companies that rely upon independent contractors to meet business needs. The bill turns current law and state and IRS independent contractor rules on their heads by creating a presumption that if a general contractor or builder wants to subcontract those under the subcontract are now assumed to be employees. It essentially dictates to the builder or remodeler who they may subcontract to, and tells them if and when they shall employ versus subcontract (and pay taxes and insurance for). The strict three-part test that this legislation requires, along with an even stricter list of 12 tests an independent contractor must meet to be allowed as an independent contractor, makes establishing an independent contractor relationship virtually impossible. Unfortunately, this legislation will lead many companies to make some difficult choices about whether they can remain businesses."

Phil LaRocque, Executive Vice President , New York State Builders Association

"The most effective approach to addressing the serious issue of climate change is the development, at the federal level, of a balanced and properly structured national greenhouse gas (GHG) program. Absent leadership at the federal level, New York State continues to place itself at a competitive disadvantage, in relation to other areas of the country, by pursuing initiatives that discourage energy investment in New York, driving jobs and needed tax revenue out of the state at a time when we need it most."

Gavin J. Donohue, President and CEO, The Independent Power Producers of New York

"Expansion of the Martin Act will open new avenues of litigation against every publicly traded company in New York State without providing consumers with additional protections. This bill would serve to worsen existing economic problems and provide financial services firms and other businesses with a new incentive to relocate jobs to neighboring states or overseas. Since New York's financial services industry is responsible for more than 10 percent of New York State's gross real product and more than one-third of business income tax revenues, the potential impact on the state is significant."

Jon Pierce, Spokesman for New Yorkers for Lawsuit Reform

"Now is not the time for our elected officials to be passing legislation that will make it harder for our businesses to compete in a worldwide economy. Now is the time for real leaders to step forward, those with the courage and conviction to stand up for the private sector job creators who are the backbone of our communities. We need to demonstrate that New York is serious about keeping our employers and attracting new investment with good economic policy, not driving it away with bad public policy as represented by these bills."

Bill Mooney, President, Westchester County Association and its Call to Action Campaign

"Simply put, these bills are job killers. In order to revitalize our struggling economy, Albany needs to create a better business climate. The way Albany treats its manufacturers and businesses will have significant impact on how quickly our economy will turn around and thrive. Legislation that hinders the manufacturing community's ability to grow is only going to put New York State back even further. I implore the State Legislature to defeat these anti business bills and rather focus on how we can create legislation that will allow our State to regain it's financial footing."

Randy Wolken, President, MACNY

"The prevailing wage legislation would add to our operating expenses and could likely lead to increased customer bills without the benefit of increased reliability or service. In addition, unlike public and government entities that are currently required to pay prevailing wage, privately owned utilities, such as National Grid, do not collect taxpayer dollars for operations. National Grid awards bids to the most qualified and cost effective bidders. By legislating costly standards, utilities would be forced to pass such costs on to their customers. This approach is anti-competitive and runs counter to providing cost effective service."

William E. Flynn, Vice President of New York Government Affairs, National Grid

"The bills put forth by Senator Addabbo and Assemblyman Englebright would unncessarily obstruct the safe development of the Marcellus Shale. This amazing homegrown resource has the potential to create hundreds of thousands of jobs and generate billions of dollars for New York's economy. On behalf of The Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York, I urge the Legislature to listen to their constituents and clear the way for safe natural gas exploration in New York."

Brad Gill, Executive Director, Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York

"It's no secret that we live in one of the most taxed states in America, and we suffer from significant barriers to homeownership and commercial real estate investment in the form of our highest-in-the-nation closing costs. If our real estate recovery is to continue, there can be no increase in real estate taxes, and, in fact, we must look for ways to rein in government spending to reduce the burden on the Empire State's homeowners."

Hank W. Fries, President, New York State Association of REALTORS®

"Members of the Legislature are considering the passage of several bills that would drive our state further down the road to ruin. If enacted, these bills would not only prevent the creation of new employment opportunities but also put thousands of good-paying jobs at risk. Rejecting this proposed legislation would be a clear signal that the Legislature is serious about working with the business community to pave the road to New York's economic recovery."

Sandra A. Parker, President and CEO, Rochester Business Alliance

"In Buffalo Niagara, we refer to the bulk of our efforts in Albany as 'playing defense'. The 12 bills highlighted today demonstrate why we have to be that way. Each and every bill here will make it more difficult to create jobs and encourage private sector investment in New York - particularly Upstate - at the worst time possible for that to happen. Albany's priorities must be fixed to be more aligned with taxpayers'."

Andrew J. Rudnick, President and CEO, Buffalo Niagara Partnership

"The New York State economy is in a mess. And before we can hope to make it better, we at least need for the State Legislature to stop making it worse. These pending bills would all make it harder to save and create jobs in this state. That's the bottom line. New York has become the poster child for the jobless recovery thanks to this sort of business-as-usual approach of piling on more mandates and costs as employers and investment exit New York."

Garry Douglas, President and CEO, Plattsburgh-North Country Chamber of Commerce

"Communities across the southern tier of New York, such as Greater Binghamton, have been working diligently to put the proper infrastructure in place, not only to reap the economic benefits from the Marcellus Shale but also to ensure safe and productive gas drilling. We simply cannot afford the passage of legislation (S.6244 Duane) / A.8748 Brennan) that will further delay or place onerous restrictions on this vital economic opportunity."

Lou Santoni, President and CEO, Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce

"As the economy of New York State gradually continues to recover, the business community urges the Legislature to focus on attracting and retaining new jobs and investments for the future. These proposed bills would hamper business growth across the state, and we implore our legislators to remain steadfast in their commitment to create a vibrant business environment and promoting economic vitality throughout New York."

Mark N. Eagan, CCE, President and CEO, Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce

"The IDA reform bill proposed by Assemblymember Sam Hoyt and Senator Antoine Thompson is sure to stall the development of sorely-needed projects and staunch any related job growth. For Brooklyn, this is simply unacceptable for both our business and residential communities particularly during this economic downturn."

Carl Hum, President and CEO, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce

"The only way for New York to solve its fiscal problems is through the creation of private sector jobs. The legislature must stop devising these laws that serve only to drive jobs out of the state."

Rob Robinson, President and CEO, The Otsego County Chamber

"These bills are a frightening illustration of the pervasive damage a well-intentioned but woefully misguided legislature can inflict. In one way or another, business is the singular source of everything Albany hopes to accomplish. To jeopardize that resource on so many fronts is beyond folly. These bad bills must be stopped."

Kevin Keeley, Board Member, Chemung County Chamber

"If New York State continues to treat its businesses as cash cows, there will be no stopping the exodus of business and commerce from the former Empire State. Let me repeat the obvious: our business community can no longer tolerate the treatment they're receiving at the hands of New York State. We can no longer be battered by fees and taxes that have no justification and we have literally come to the end of our rope."

"On behalf of our utilities and the entire business community, please oppose passage of these prevailing wage bills that will further injure the already fragile New York State economy."

Dr. John D'Ambrosio, President, Orange County Chamber of Commerce

"New York needs legislation that helps create high-quality jobs not kils them. These bills will make it even more difficult for our state to compete with other states for business investment, let alone with countries from around the world."

Michael Oates, President and CEO, Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation

"Given the close proximity of Pennsylvania's border and that state's lower energy costs, Western New York businesses are already being enticed to relocate as a cost-saving measure. If passed, this bill (S.7096-A Schneiderman / A.10257-A Gianaris) would ultimately place an additional financial burden on area businesses and in essence, lawmakers would be responsible for causing many community-minded businesses to leave New York State."

Nancy L. Conley, Executive Director, Orchard Park Chamber of Commerce

"The Livingston County Chamber of Commerce stands behind and supports the Business Council of New York State and its efforts to FIX NY. Their Pro- Business, growth and success, agenda and support of free enterprise is the foundation for future economic stability and quality of life in the Empire State."

Cynthia Oswald, IOM, President, Livingston County Chamber of Commerce and Executive Director, Livingston County Education Alliance

"The Rome Area Chamber of Commerce is pleased to be part of the coalition opposed to the passage of these bills. In these tough economic times it should be the goal of government to provide legislative action that helps small businesses grow and prosper and not burden them with additional requirements that will force them to make cutbacks and limit employment opportunities."

William K. Guglielmo, President, Rome Area Chamber of Commerce

"These are truly frustrating times in New York State. To think that economic development agencies across the state must spend valuable time and resources attempting to explain the consequences of ill-conceived legislation to particular law makers rather than focusing on the most important economic issue facing New Yorkers; that is surviving the current recession, creating new employment opportunities, and helping businesses survive into the next decade."

Mike Heftka, Executive Director, Wyoming County IDA

"As the leading producer of numerous agriculture products in New York State, we find it disheartening to see that the Farm Bill, defeated earlier this year through due process, has reared its ugly head again. This bill still has language in it that will prove detrimental to not only our farm and agriculture support businesses but many other businesses in Wyoming County touched by the economic impact agriculture has on our local economy."

Laura Lane, President and CEO, Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce

"As a Chamber of Commerce located in upstate New York serving the interests of 300+ businesses, we are proud to uphold the Business Council's efforts to reduce the costs of doing business in New York State. Legislation that not only thwarts job creation but also threatens business survival is not good for business and most certainly not our fragile economy. We should be doing everything possible to help our businesses grow and succeed!"

Denise Ackley, President, Corning Area Chamber of Commerce

"The bill to lower the threshold for abusive work environment causes of action will open the flood gates for misguided lawsuits against employers. This attempt to legislate what in many cases is routine workplace behavior will only increase costs for employers and hinder job creation at a time we can ill afford it."

Dr. Marsha Gordon, President and CEO, The Business Council of Westchester

"National Fuel objects to the provisions of the service worker prevailing wage expansion legislation. We believe that classifying the utilities as public agencies is inappropriate. Although the Company is not funded through taxes, the prevailing wage law would produce, in effect, another hidden tax on our customers. It is estimated that such a tax would result in an increase in annual costs in addition to already higher taxes, assessments and other mandates imposed on utilities through the legislative process."

Patricia Paul, Manager of Government Affairs, National Fuel