Daily News columnist: Time is right for Scaffold Law reform

New York Daily News columnist Bill Hammond says the case for reforming New York’s so-called Scaffold Law has never been stronger than right now.

Hammond cites sky rocketing liability insurance premiums for contractors —fueled by the law — that threaten to slow the entire industry to a crawl and a new study that finds the law actually contributes to higher accident rates on construction projects.

Hammond writes, “Cornell economist Rick Geddes, a public policy professor and coauthor of the study, calculates that workplaces covered by the Scaffold Law see an extra 5.5 accidents per 1,000 employees.

“Even more devastating was the outcome of a “natural experiment” in Illinois — another big state with a lot of high-rise construction that repealed its version of the scaffold law in 1995.
“Accident rates have fallen in both states in the period since. But before repeal, Illinois had a worse track record than New York. Since repeal, its worksites have become significantly safer than ours.”

To read the entire column please click here.

Petroleum Institute plans campaign to boost gas development

The New York State Petroleum Institute has released results of a statewide poll that shows widespread support for energy development among registered voters in the state.
The poll, conducted by Harris Poll, among 601 registered voters also found that:

- 89 percent of registered New York voters agree that increased development of the country’s energy infrastructure would help create jobs in the U.S.

- 87 percent say that increased production of domestic oil and natural gas resources could lead to more jobs in the U.S.

- 84 percent say increased development of the country’s energy infrastructure is good for American consumers.

You can read more about the poll and about a new grassroots effort to promote natural gas development in this press briefing by New York State Petroleum Council Executive Director, Karen Moreau.

GlobalFoundries and Samsung to make advanced computer chips

Business Council member GlobalFoundries is teaming up with Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. of Korea to jointly produce a more advanced computer chip, which means more work for the GlobalFoundries’ expanding factory in Malta, NY.

GlobalFoundries will license Samsung technology as the two companies prepare to produce computer chips that are smaller, faster and use less power. In industry terminology the technology is known as 14 nanometer FinFET.

Samsung will make the chips at its foundries in Korea and Austin, Texas, while GlobalFoundries would make them in Malta.

“This represents a very strategic relationship with a world leader in the mobile space and is great news for Fab 8 in N.Y. and GlobalFoundries in general,” the company said in a statement.

The partnership is viewed in the industry as a push to compete with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp., the largest contract computer chip maker in the world.

You can read the GlobalFoundries news release here.

Energy: Creating jobs and driving the economy

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for 21st Century Energy’s infographic shows that energy projects across the nation are bringing in billions of dollars in revenue that help to fund programs and projects at the federal, state and local levels.

Energy is providing millions of jobs and generating trillions in private sector investments. In 2012 alone, American oil and gas production contributed more than $62 billion in tax revenue-more than the GDP of some U.S. states.



Time Warner Cable supplier webinar today

Time Warner Cable offers a series of informational webinars about being a vendor/supplier with Time Warner Cable. The next webinar, How to Become a Time Warner Cable Vendor/Supplier, will be today Thursday, April 17 at 2:30 p.m. More information including how to register is available here.







New NYISO power control center

NYISO New Control Center Interior 040714nyiso_opening

Federal, state and local government and energy industry leaders gathered yesterday to unveil the completed construction of the New York Independent System Operator‘s (NYISO) new, $38 million primary power control center. The 64,000-square-foot control facility features the latest digital monitoring technologies to strengthen grid reliability and security throughout the state and region.

“Our new control center will help us meet the 21st century’s grid reliability requirements through the use of the latest control technologies and state-of-the-art visual displays that are designed to improve the NYISO’s ability to receive, process and monitor changing conditions throughout the region,” said Stephen G. Whitley, the NYISO’s president and CEO. “Reliable operation of the grid requires constant vigilance – balancing the supply of power with consumer demand for electricity on a moment-to-moment basis – every hour of the day, every day of the year.”

“It is critically important that we maintain and improve the reliability of the electric power system, as it is vital to the production of goods and services in both the commercial and industrial sectors,” said Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and CEO of the Business Council of New York State. “The opening of the NYISO control center will increase situational awareness of the electric power system, which is crucial in improving the reliability and resiliency of the grid. Replacing one of the oldest North American ISO and RTO control centers with the new center is a positive step for New York’s business community.”

The new primary control center supports a number of key energy goals, including:

  • Enabling improved integration of renewable energy supplies by deploying renewable resource management tools such as wind forecasts, meteorological conditions and generation output data to better assess and employ variable wind and solar renewable power resources.
  • Maintaining reliability while managing the growing complexity of modern electric grid operations through smart grid technology that integrates and processes significantly higher volumes of data.
  • Implementing the NYISO’s broader regional markets initiative that will provide New York with approximately $190 million in annual savings through mechanisms that eliminate market barriers and optimize resources among regions.


This state-of-the-art facility also harnesses grid control technologies installed in the NYISO’s smart grid project, which was funded in part by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

With support from the Recovery Act, the Energy Department partnered with utilities across the United States to deploy sophisticated grid sensors – known as synchrophasors – that monitor the flow of electricity with unprecedented precision and provide continuous and near-real-time information on the grid’s health and security.

These measurements allow system operators and owners to identify and respond to potential disturbances quickly and effectively – improving overall grid reliability, safeguarding against power outages and enabling faster restoration of power. The new control center will give NYISO and neighboring grid control areas a far more expansive and in-depth view of the power grid.

New York’s corporate tax reform improves state business tax climate

The recently finalized FY 2014-2015 New York state budget includes major reforms to the state’s corporate income tax system and estate tax that will broaden the state’s tax bases, lower tax rates and reduce the complexity of New York’s flawed corporate tax code, according to a new report released by the Tax Foundation. The Business Council aggressively advocated for these tax reforms to be included in the final state budget. The Tax Foundation noted that if these reforms had been implemented prior to its evaluation of state tax laws in mid-2013, that New York’s corporate tax system would have ranked 4th best nationwide, behind only three states with no corporate income tax, instead of 25th.

“The Business Council helped shape, and strongly supported this reform package, knowing it would make New York’s business tax climate more competitive,” said Ken Pokalsky, vice president of government affairs for The Business Council of New York State. It is gratifying to see the state’s actions gaining national attention, as one of the most significant tax reform packages adopted by any state over the last year.”

The Tax Foundation report summarizes the elements of the lengthy bill, and its key findings include:

  • The four different tax bases for calculating corporate tax are reduced to three as of FY 2015 (eliminating the corporate AMT base) and further reduced to two over time (eliminating the capital stock base).
  • The corporate net income tax rate is reduced from 7.1 percent to 6.5 percent, the lowest level since 1968.
  • The duplicative bank tax system is merged into the better-developed corporate tax system.
  • The estate tax is recoupled over time to the higher federal threshold, exempting many small businesses from hefty taxes upon the death of their owners. The generation-skipping transfer tax is repealed.
  • Net operating losses are restructured to reduce uncertainty for taxpayers, NOL carrybacks are extended to three years, and the $10,000 cap is removed. NOL carryforwards remain twenty years, similar to federal law.
  • The individual add-on Minimum Tax is repealed.
  • If the changes enacted by the bill were in full effect for the most recent version of the State Business Tax Climate Index, New York’s corporate tax system would have ranked 4th best of the fifty states instead of 25th best.


In the 2014 State Business Tax Climate Index, which evaluated state tax laws as of July 1, 2013, New York’s corporate tax system ranked 25th best out of the fifty states, and the overall tax structure ranked 50th, or last. If the changes enacted by the bill were in full effect for the most recent version of the Index, New York’s corporate tax system would have instead ranked 4th best of the fifty states, behind only three states with no corporate income tax.

The state’s overall rank would have improved two spots to 48th, beating New Jersey and California. New York is not a low-tax state, and its economic success is because of strengths that overcome a challenging tax environment, with recent tax commission reports recommending many of the changes incorporated in the bill.

“New York is not a low-tax state, and its economic success is because of strengths that overcome a challenging tax environment. High taxes need not also be complex or poorly structured taxes, however, and removing these obstacles will encourage job creation and economic activity,” said Joseph Henchman, Tax Foundation Vice President of State Projects. “New York’s 2014 corporate tax reform is an impressive step toward tackling this problem by broadening bases, lowering rates, reducing burdens, and eliminating needless complexity.”

Read the full Tax Foundation analysis, New York Corporate Tax Overhaul Broadens Bases, Lowers Rates, and Reduces Complexity, on the Tax Foundation’s website.


Saint Rose names Dr. Carolyn Stefanco as President

StefancoThe board of trustees of Business Council member The College of Saint Rose announced the selection of Dr. Carolyn J. Stefanco of Decatur, Ga., to serve as the 11th president of the College. Currently, Stefanco is vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, a position she has held since 2010.

Stefanco will assume her new role July 1, 2014.  She succeeds Dr. Margaret Kirwin, who has served as interim president since July 2013.

“We are extremely pleased to name Dr. Carolyn Stefanco as the 11th president of The College of Saint Rose.  A recognized scholar and educator, her proven success is deep and broad, from her recent academic leadership at Agnes Scott College in Georgia to creating new initiatives and moving them forward at Cal Poly, many of which continue today.  Her international experience in London and as a Fulbright Scholar in Croatia will enhance what Saint Rose is already doing to globalize the campus.  As we approach the College’s 100-year anniversary, the entire Saint Rose community welcomes Carolyn as the College takes its place on the national stage,” said Judith Calogero, trustee and co-chair of the presidential search committee.

In her current position, Stefanco serves as Agnes Scott’s chief academic officer and the first of the college’s five vice presidents.  The Division of Academic Affairs includes academic programs, the curriculum, staff and faculty recruitment and review, budget planning and management, assessment, student success, international education, sponsored programs and information technology, as well as numerous other offices and resources.  During her four-year tenure, she led initiatives that achieved master planning goals, won institutional reaccreditation, increased academic quality and student retention, raised funds from foundations and individuals, and fostered the college’s global efforts.

The College of Saint Rose (www.strose.edu) is a dynamic, progressive college of 4,700 students where teaching is the first priority.  With a rigorous liberal education curriculum, 72 undergraduate majors, 52 master’s degrees and 21 graduate certificates, and a mission of service to the urban community, the Saint Rose experience empowers students to improve themselves and the world around them.

Lafarge hosts groundbreaking event for plant modernization project


Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State, Inc. joined member company Lafarge North America Inc. at their groundbreaking event for the multi-million dollar modernization project at the Ravena, N.Y. cement plant today.  The new state-of-the-art facility will be equipped with advanced efficiency features that will enable the plant to compete successfully and meet the economy’s need for high quality cement.

“Lafarge is committed to investing hundreds of millions of dollars to modernize the Ravena cement facility because we are committed to competing in the U.S. market in an environmentally responsible way,” said John Stull, Lafarge U.S. president and CEO. “New York is an advantageous location for Lafarge. This is an opportunity to better serve customers in this market and allow us to continue contributing to building better cities and communities across the region.”

Lafarge Ravena’s product is in demand supplying several high profile projects in the Northeast including the new Freedom Tower and the World Trade Center Memorial in New York City and the Global Foundries plant located in Malta, New York.

After an extensive review process, the plant modernization project received widespread support from the public, advocates, and community and business leaders. In late 2013, Lafarge was granted an extension of the project timeline by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

The event was attended by a number of national, state and local elected officials and regional leaders, who supported the project and helped at the groundbreaking ceremony.

The modernization project is scheduled for completion by June 30, 2016 and expected to retain the plant’s 110 jobs, in addition to creating hundreds of temporary jobs during the construction phase.