Legislative Update

The Chamber has been actively working with other business community allies on continuing to advance a pro-business pro-growth agenda for NYS.

The past few months have been filled with fighting to keep healthcare costs low, pushing back against job killing mandates, and fighting for a tax environment that encourages growth.

The top priority at the moment is for either the State or Federal government to pass liability protection for businesses that are doing what is in their power to protect their employees and customers from COVID-19.

 

A few bills that are currently a high priority for the Chamber are:

      • S.8463 would protect businesses from liability if one of their employees or customers contracts a pandemic disease like COVID-19, as long as that business has taken reasonable steps to protect employees and customers from the disease.
      • S.8231 is legislation which would exclude unemployment charges caused from COVID-19 from being used to calculate an employer’s unemployment insurance experience rating.
      • S.5954-A is a bill that reduces the tax rate for small businesses from 6.5% to 4%.

 

There are also a few bills the chamber is against at the state level:

      • S.8309 is legislation that would allow workers to receive unemployment insurance benefits after quitting, refusing to return from furlough or being terminated from a workplace.
      • S.8462 would amend New York State labor law, so that an employee who voluntarily separates from employment citing fear of exposure to COVID-19 would remain eligible to receive unemployment benefits.
      • S.8191 would prevent an individual, business or association from continuing to charge membership fees during a state disaster emergency.
      • S.8266 is a bill that would include COVID-19 as a presumptive occupational disease under workers’ compensation. This could increase the cost of the state’s workers’ compensation system by $31 billion.

 

 

Three bills that the Chamber has been supportive of federally is the Safe to Work Act, Healthy Workplaces Tax Credit, Continuing Small Business Recovery and Paycheck Protection Program Act.

 

First, the Safe to Work Act would offer federal liability protection to businesses. The intent of this bill is to lessen the burdens on interstate commerce by discouraging insubstantial lawsuits relating to COVID–19.

 

The Healthy Workplaces Tax Credit is a bill that is designed to help businesses cope with COVID-19 related expenditures. It would function as refundable tax credit for 50 percent of costs related to COVID-19 testing, PPE, extra cleaning, and workspace changes. Businesses did not budget for these costs, and anyway we can offset them will allow our economy to begin to rebound.

 

The Chamber is supportive of the Continuing Small Business Recovery and Paycheck Protection Program Act and specifically the PPP Second Draw Loans and the PPP Programmatic Improvements. The PPP second draw loans would allow our area’s small businesses that have experienced a 50% decline in revenue between the first second quarters of 2020 compared to 2019, to receive a second PPP loan. Some small businesses were not able to fully benefit from the original PPP due to positive changes that resulted after its rollout. The suggested programmatic improvements to the PPP include it being able to be used on PPE and COVID-19 safety measures. Also, the bill would address forgiveness simplification for smaller loans under $150,000.

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