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2014 NFIB New York Issues

Date: March 31, 2014

Tax Relief
NFIB supports broad-based tax relief to reduce the crushing burden on New York’s small businesses. Ranked as having the second worst tax climate in the nation, New York needs a comprehensive tax reform plan that reduces the cost of doing business to sustain existing businesses and increase its economic competitiveness.

NFIB/NY supports reducing both Personal Income Tax and corporate tax rates, as well as cutting taxes for manufacturers, eliminating the 18A energy assessment and repealing the MTA payroll tax. NFIB/NY also urges reform of the Estate Tax to incentivize individuals with family businesses to remain in New York.    

Unemployment Insurance and Workers Compensation Reforms
NFIB/NY supported the reforms to the Workers Compensation and Unemployment Insurance system passed in 2013. These changes will offer savings and equity for employers while also combatting fraud. These reforms should be reinforced with the immediate adoption of the American Medical Association guidelines and the implementation of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine Treatment protocols. Adoption of these standards will provide additional clarity on eligibility and strengthen anti-fraud measures.

NFIB/NY also urges the implementation of a comprehensive evaluation and training program for Administrative Law Judges involved in the Unemployment Insurance and Workers Compensation appeals process to promote consistency and fairness.
 
Wage Theft Prevention
The original Wage Theft legislation, when enacted in 2010, fully cemented New York’s standing as one of the most anti-employer, anti-job growth states in the nation. This legislation seemed to be motivated by the troubling belief that not only are many employers routinely cheating and engaging in “theft” from their employees and also that the Department of Labor was failing to enforce the previously existing law.  Although NFIB/NY would like to see a full repeal of this legislation, we are currently lobbying in support of a bill to eliminate the employer’s annual notice requirement and instead only mandate that employers present information to an employee once upon hiring.

Removing the annual pay notice mandate is a positive step forward for small businesses already struggling under a heavily mandated business climate.

Scaffold Law
New York is the only state that holds employers strictly liable for “gravity related injuries,” a distinction that typifies its anti-business reputation. The strict liability standard means that contractors, builders and other small businesses must pay 100% of the damages when an injury occurs even when the injured worker is found to have been negligent. In other words, an employee can ignore all of the required safety procedures, injure himself as a result and then sue the boss for millions of dollars. The employer in essence has no defense under the outdated Scaffold Law, which drives up the cost of insurance for businesses, consumers and taxpayers.

NFIB and a coalition of business groups are fighting for a more equitable comparative negligence standard that takes into account a measurement of fault and awards damages accordingly.

Common Sense Lawsuit Reform

Common sense lawsuit reform not only increases fairness but also makes sense for New York’s taxpayers and economy. NFIB supports common sense lawsuit reform as a way to reduce New York’s tax and property tax burdens, lower the cost of doing business, encourage job growth, reduce the cost of government at the state and local level and make health insurance more affordable.

Wicks Law Reform
The Wicks Law – a construction mandate dating back to 1912 – was put into place to promote competition and protect workers’ rights. Wicks Law subjects state and local governments (including school district construction projects) to separate plumbing, heating/ventilation/air conditioning and electrical contracts on construction projects that cost more than specific thresholds in different areas of the state. This requirement has proven to be one of the most onerous mandates facing local governments.

NFIB/NY supports repeal of the Wicks Law. Repeal of this mandate will help stimulate our local economies by allowing municipalities to use a more cost-effective approach to public projects. It also will remove a barrier for communities that want to invest in much-needed infrastructure and capital improvements. Absent repeal, NFIB/NY supports increasing the threshold to a uniform $10 million threshold statewide.

Examination of Environmental Regulations – SEQRA Reform
Small business owners often cite the SEQRA process as an obstacle in developing projects that create jobs.  The multiple layers of examination and duplicate reviews of the same factors make projects costly and reduce New York’s competitiveness with respect to attracting economic development.

NFIB/NY supports a review process that balances environmental protection and economic growth. Definitive timelines and clearly designated levels of evaluation and review status would streamline the process while allowing for adequate examination of projects.

Safe Natural Gas Development
NFIB/NY believes that by opening up the Marcellus Shale region to safe natural gas drilling, New York will produce thousands of jobs and opportunities for small business.  It also would ease the demand for foreign energy and bring down costs for consumers. In the 2011 NFIB member ballot, NFIB asked small business owners if New York should drill for natural gas, particularly in the Marcellus Shale region. An overwhelming 73 percent of our members expressed support for drilling.

NFIB members agree that appropriate and necessary environmental and health issues have been studied and that every precaution should be taken to ensure public safety moving forward. Studies show that drilling can be done safely, and it is time to allow the permitting process to begin.

Independent Contractors
NFIB supports the creation of a universal definition of an “independent contractor.” A universal definition provides standards and offers clarity to guide business owners in correctly classifying individuals and avoiding fines for improperly classification as an employee or independent contractor.

Product Bans
NFIB/NY supports the sensible regulation of products, especially those used in manufacturing. More than a dozen consumer product safety laws already provide oversight of products to ensure safety for intended use. Unilaterally banning products that allegedly pose a risk to healthy, safety and the environment, absent any scientific fact, puts jobs across many industries in jeopardy and threatens manufacturing.

No New Taxes, Fees or Toll Increases
NFIB opposes any tax, fee or toll increase on New York’s employers and taxpayers. Small business—the engine that drives our economy—simply cannot afford any more costs. After three fiscally responsible budgets, New York State cannot revert back to its “tax and spend” ways.



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