Policy Update: NYSSBC 2016 Legislative Session Priorities
On May 9, 2016, NYSSBC convened business leaders at the State Capitol from across the state for the 3rd Annual Albany Sustainable Business Summit. Attendees were briefed on NYSSBC’s priority issues (listed below), heard about next steps for the victorious Paid Leave campaign, had time to connect over shared interests, and met with state legislators and staff to make the business case for policies promoting a sustainable economy. Read more details on the event here.
Updates on Priorities:
Tax Incentives for Geothermal Energy
As a sustainable alternative to natural gas, geothermal heating & cooling is essential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and combating climate change. Parity with solar incentives is being aggressively sought before federal incentives expire at the end of 2016. While both of the bills (see below) passed the Senate & Assembly unanimously in 2015, they were vetoed by the Governor saying he was waiting for a renewable heating and cooling plan from NYSERDA, the state energy agency,which is still unpublished. The effort is focused now at the close of 2016 on the tax credit bill being signed.
- Geothermal Tax Credit S.6249 (Ortt, R-Lockport)/A.9925 (Ryan, D-Buffalo)
Geothermal Tax Credit (S.6249/A.9925) establishes a tax credit for the purchase and installation of geothermal energy systems.
Bill Status: On the way to victory! Both the Senate and Assembly passed S.6249/A.9925. Legislation has been delivered to Governor Cuomo to sign into law.
Take Action: Call or write Gov. Cuomo and ask him to sign the geothermal tax credit now. Learn more.
Geothermal Sales Tax Exemption (S.6250/A.9128-A) provides an exemption for the sale and installation of residential and commercial geothermal heat pump systems equipment.
Bill Status: Defeat. S.6250-A passed the Senate, but the Assembly failed to pass their version of the bill.
Updating the Hemp Pilot Program S.6960-A (O’Mara, R-Elmira)/A.9310-A (Lupardo, D-Binghamton)
Since the New York State Legislature passed legislation to create an Industrial Hemp Pilot Research program in 2014, farmers and research institutions have expressed tremendous interest in participating in the program and in the potential of industrial hemp as a major agricultural crop in New York State. As the program has moved forward, participants have expressed their desire to pursue the marketing and final products of industrial hemp. By adopting these changes, New York will be in the position to become a national leader in the growing industrial hemp industry once it is fully legalized by the federal government.
Bill Status: Victory! Passed both the Assembly and Senate; signed into law by the Governor August 18, 2016
Calling on Congress to Overturn Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission
The goal of this effort is to pass a resolution making New York the 17th state to call for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which in 2010 unleashed a flood of money into our political system by ruling that, contrary to longstanding precedent, corporations and unions are able to spend unlimited amounts of money to promote or defeat candidates. The District of Columbia and sixteen states, including our neighbors New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont, have passed resolutions calling on Congress to adopt a constitutional amendment overturning the Citizens United decision.
Status: Victory! A majority of legislators in both the Senate and the Assembly signed a letter urging the U.S. Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (FEC) and McCutcheon v. FEC decisions. New York is the first state legislature with at least one chamber controlled by Republicans to call for a constitutional amendment to rein in uncontrolled spending in elections
Safer Chemicals: Child Safe Products Act S.4102-A (Boyle, R-Bay Shore)/A.5612 (Englebright, D-Setauket)
The Child Safe Products Act (A.5612/S.4102) will require the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) to publish a list of chemicals of high concern based on hazard (list adopted from Maine), and name a subset as priority chemicals (i.e. formaldehyde, lead, mercury, and arsenic). Children’s product makers will have to disclose which products contain priority chemicals and eventually phase the chemicals out in order to continue sale of such items in New York.
There was an end-of-the-session effort to get the disclosure component of the Child Safe Products Acts by having a separate bill, the Parents Right to Know Act, passed but neither the Assembly nor the Senate voted on it.
Bill Status: Defeat. A.5612 passed the Assembly on May 4, 2016 for the 5th year in a row. S.4102-A died in the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee.
Take Action: Join other businesses like Beauty Counter, Seventh Generation, EILEEN FISHER, and ABC Carpet & Home by signing onto NYSSBC’s campaign, Companies for Safer Chemicals New York, to demonstrate your support for improving disclosure of toxic chemicals and eliminating them from the market.
GMO Labeling S.485-B (LaValle, R-Port Jefferson)/A.617-B (Rosenthal, D-Manhattan)
This legislation will require the labeling of genetically engineered seed, seed stock, and human food offered for retail sale in New York.
Bill Status: Defeat. S.485-B died in the Rules Committee. A.617-B died in the Rules Committee. Neither the Assembly nor Senate had a floor vote on the bills.
Support & Incentives for Employee-Owned Enterprise A.9618 (Ryan, D-Buffalo)
This bill will exempt members, directors, and executive officers of a worker cooperative from workers’ compensation coverage; will make employee-owned enterprises eligible for a “best value” awarding of public contracts; provide business and industry training to members of an employee-owned enterprise; create an advisory panel on the viability of increasing employee-owned enterprises in the State; and provide a 50% capital gains exemption for the sale of stock to an employee-owned enterprise.
Bill Status: Defeat. A.9618 died in the Labor Committee. A similar bill was not introduced in the Senate.
Take Action: If interested in being involved in NYSSBC’s work on cooperatives, please contact NYSSBC member Andrew Delmonte of Buffalo First! and Cooperation Buffalo (EMAIL).