2015 NFIB New York Issues

Date: November 18, 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’s top priorities for tax
relief are to ensure that the legislature and Governor make the tax cap permanent
and to reduce personal income taxes. In 2011, NFIB/NY strongly supported
capping year-to-year property tax increases at 2%. The current cap will expire
in 2015 if the legislature and Governor take no action.

NFIB/NY also sees personal income
tax reductions as a top priority. While tax cuts enacted in 2014 for
corporations and manufacturers helped improve the business climate for some
companies, the reforms left out the vast majority of small business owners who
pay their business taxes through personal income tax.  

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.

NFIB/NY urges the Governor and legislature to consider using bank settlement
money that the state collected on infrastructure improvements in order
eliminate the need to increase tolls for projects like the construction of the
new Tappan Zee Bridge.

Paid Leave
NFIB/NY supports small
business owners’ ability to offer flexible accommodations that fit the needs of
employer-employee relationships in small business. An estimated 96% of small
business owners already offer some form of paid sick leave. NFIB/NY rejects
proposals that mandate paid leave, which will likely adversely impact other
benefits employers offer. 

Minimum Wage
NFIB/NY continues to oppose proposals to accelerate an increase in the minimum
wage or index minimum wage to inflation. Similarly, NFIB/NY also opposes
proposals to allow localities to set their own minimum wage based on a state
set formula. Mandatory increases in minimum wage limit the ability of
businesses to operate, force increases in the prices of goods and services and
put pressure on the wage structure within every business. Furthermore, allowing
localities to set their own minimum wage would lead to nearby communities
competing with one another and would create an administrative burden for
business owners with multiple locations.

Unemployment Insurance and Workers Compensation Reforms

NFIB/NY supported the reforms to the Workers Compensation and Unemployment
Insurance system passed in 2013. These changes have created 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 clarity
on claim 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
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

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.

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.

Right to Repair
NFIB/NY supports the rights of insured motorists to have their vehicles repaired at the shop of their choice. Current law protects this right; however there have been reports of insurance companies “steering” insured motorists to “preferred” shops. 

NFIB/NY supports legislation that would strengthen existing law by prohibiting insurers from refusing to pay on claims based on price caps or ceilings developed by the insurer. The policy of price caps not only limits consumer choice and hurts independent shops but also leads to reduced quality of repairs by “preferred” or “direct repair providers and jeopardizes driver safety. 

NFIB/NY encourages motorists and repair shops to become familiar with existing law. When an insured files a claim with his or her own auto insurance company under his or her own policy, Insurance Law expressly provides that the insurance company is not allowed to recommend or suggest that repairs be done at a particular shop unless the insured specifically asks for a recommendation. Claims filed with a third-party insurance company, such as the insurance company covering the person that hit the driver are subject to different restrictions. In that case, a third-party insurance company can make a recommendation  but cannot require repairs be made at that shop. 


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