Based on feedback from our members and our ongoing work, we have identified a broad array of bills in the NYS legislature in need of your support. These bills can be grouped into the following 4 issue areas: Healthcare, Toxic Chemicals, Solar Energy, and Fossil Fuels.
On April 25th, 10am – 4pm, we will be convening business leaders in Albany for our 5th annual NY Sustainable Business Summit, where will will speak with policymakers on these issues. (more information and registration for our 2018 Summit)
Arguably the most transformative bill on our docket is the NY Health Act, which — if passed — would establish a comprehensive single-payer system of access to health insurance and would replace private insurance company coverage in NYS. For small businesses, startups, and low margin sectors, this means eliminating the bureaucratic maze and high costs of buying health coverage for employees. We believe it would make New York dramatically more attractive to businesses looking to relocate. and their future employees. The NY Health Act gained steam last year as our federal healthcare system was under fire, and your business voice can help push it across the finish line this legislative session.
On a related note, we have identified bills that would reduce our exposure to toxic chemicals. The Toxic Show & Tell act is a powerful bill with a playful name that creates an important framework for addressing this issue. The State would maintain a list of chemicals of high concern to children and require product makers to disclose their presence in children’s products sold in NYS. We believe smarter chemical regulations will drive green technology innovation, and transparency throughout the supply chain is good for business as it will allow our product makers and retailers — and their customers — to make informed decisions. We will educate Summit attendees and lawmakers on additional bills including the Drug Take Back Act which calls for a statewide program paid for by pharmaceutical manufacturers to manage the disposal of their products and reduce their contamination of NYS waters.
After years of healthy growth in New York State’s solar industry, the corporate power utilities managed to erect a major barrier to solar in the form of the VDER regulation passed by New York’s Public Service Commission (PSC) last year. The rate of solar growth in NYS has since been declining. This barrier hurts our NYS solar installers and blocks you and your business in particular from the community solar opportunities that would otherwise be more abundant and accessible today. Between now (as I type this email) and our Summit, we expect a bill to be introduced that would delay the rollout of VDER statewide for 3 years and direct the PSC to fix these problems with the VDER regulation during that time. It gets more complicated, of course, so expect a thorough breakdown at the Summit. In addition, we are supporting a bill that would extend for 2 years the New York City solar property tax abatement, which sunsets at the end of this year. These 2 bills would provide the much-needed boost for the NYS solar industry and would benefit all New Yorkers and New York State businesses seeking to source their power from the sun.
And while our planet basks in sunlight, NYS’s pension fund (3rd largest in the nation) invests more than $5 billion in fossil fuels — orders of magnitude greater than investments in renewables. In response, we support the Fossil Fuel Divestment bill that would immediately stop new investments in fossil fuel companies and transition current investments within 5 years with coal investments being dropped in year one. With the growing riskiness of fossil fuel investments, this transition makes good economic sense. Although the bill doesn’t specify where the $5 billion should be reinvested, we aim to highlight that the clean energy sector is growing at nearly double the rate of the overall economy. Also, clean energy investment creates three times as many jobs as the equivalent investment in fossil fuels, so New York has a genuine opportunity to invest in New York’s clean energy businesses to ensure their success, growth, and ability to employ more and more New Yorkers.