The 2023 NYS Legislative Session began on January 4. Governor Kathy Hochul was sworn in as the first woman governor elected to office in NYS. The November elections also resulted in 38 new legi In March, the Assembly and Senate released their one-house budget proposals. As expected, there were a number of differences between the proposals submitted by the Executive, Senate, and Assembly. We have been meeting with legislators to ensure that NRLA members have a voice throughout the budget negotiations. In addition, NRLA participated in the annual Small Business Day on March 22nd where some of our Budget issues were addressed including the following:
UI Trust Fund: The Assembly one-house Budget includes an authorization for the Dormitory Authority to issue $2 billion in bonding authority to pay down a portion of the outstanding Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund balance; however, they believe that additional assistance is needed from the federal government to help absorb the State’s remaining unemployment insurance debt and deliver relief to small businesses in New York. The Assembly also supports a comprehensive review of the unemployment insurance system as it impacts both employers and claimants. The Senate supports exploring the use of conduit financing to provide unemployment insurance premium relief to business owners. Current Budget negotiations are exploring bonding the debt.
Minimum Wage: The Governor proposes indexing the minimum wage to the yearly rate of inflation, starting with a $15 per hour rate. The Assembly supports scheduled increases in the minimum wage followed by increases based on indexing. The Senate supports raising the minimum wage and then indexing after a sufficient increase in the wage rate. Current budget negotiations are leaning toward a small increase in the wage, and then indexing.
Establish a Statewide Fee on Delivery Transactions: The Assembly included language to apply a 25-cent fee on any delivery transaction, including online and in-store purchase deliveries with some exceptions. Revenue raised from this proposal would be directed to transit systems across the State. The Senate did not include this in their one-house Budget.
Cost escalation: The Senate one-house Budget advances language providing price escalation relief to State contractors and subcontractors affected by spikes in material costs during the early days of COVID-19. Under the proposal, public contractors would be empowered to apply for up to 5 percent retroactive relief, if the contract in question accepted bids up to April 2020 and the material cost increases occurred after March 2020. This proposal is based on S.8844 of 2022, which was vetoed by Governor Hochul due to the cost implications to the State from applying the adjustment across many projects simultaneously. The Assembly did not include this proposal in their one-house Budget. Senator Cooney and Assemblyman Zebrowski are leading the charge on this.
All Electric Buildings: Governor Hochul included a proposal in her Executive Budget that called for prohibitions and restrictions on the use of fossil fuel equipment and building systems in new single family and multi-family homes, and new commercial buildings. The Senate and Assembly proposed similar prohibitions in their one-house Budgets, including decarbonization of state-owned facilities and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. This issue has been very contentious and has raised a significant amount of attention. It will likely be included in some form in the Budget, but if it is not fully addressed, additional legislation will be introduced outside of the Budget.
Unemployment Amnesty Period for Employers: Last year’s bill has still not been introduced yet in 2023. Since the Legislature is negotiating how to handle UI in the Budget, we will wait to see what the outcome is before advocating for the bill to be reintroduced.
Retainage: Assemblyman Braunstein introduced A.1194, and as mentioned in the last report, Senator Monica Martinez has agreed to sponsor the bill in the Senate. Our attempts to include retainage in the Budget did not prove fruitful since it was more of a policy issue than a fiscal issue to the State. If the Governor’s Housing Compact proposal is adopted, we will have a strong argument for passage of our bill to help the small business materialmen receive payment for materials without delay. If the proposal is not adopted, we will continue to advocate for passage of our legislation this session.
Workforce Development: The Assembly has not yet introduced a companion to Senator Mayer’s bill, S. 5024, which is the CTE bill we are supporting. I have been working with a group of supporters seeking an increase in the CTE/Special Services salaries. Very similar to last year we were successful in getting the increase in the Senate and Assembly one-house Budgets. Unfortunately, as of the writing of this update it is looking like it will not make it in the final budget. However, I am also having many conversations with legislators in both houses from an economic development perspective and the importance of having a robust strategy around workforce development in the construction trades. Once the economic development budget is finalized there will be opportunities to target dollars to help us take advantage of some funding to further our cause.
Deforestation: Assemblyman Zebrowski introduced A.5682 as a companion to Senator Krueger’s deforestation bill, S. 4859. The Senate bill moved from the Senate Procurement Committee to Senate Finance (Senator Krueger is the Chair of the Finance Committee). Senator Parker, Chair of the Senate Energy Committee, also introduced S. 5125, which enacts the New York Deforestation Protection Act. After the Budget, we are going to work with other like-minded organizations like ESFPA, AFPA and AGC to voice our concerns with these bills.
We invited all NRLA members to register and join us for our annual Lobby Day on May 2nd in Albany to advocate for or against these issues of importance to our industry. Please make every effort to attend and participate in the legislative process.