Monthly Archives: October 2013

Business Council testifies for NYS LNG regulations

IMAG37412Yesterday, Darren Suarez, director of government affairs for The Business Council, testified in support of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation LNG regulation at a hearing in Albany.

The Business Council supports LNG regulation, or Part 570, because its adoption will allow New York manufacturers and operators of heavy-duty vehicles to remain competitive with business owners and operators in other states with access to LNG facilities.  Several fleet operators have expressed interest in using LNG to reduce their transportation cost and New York businesses have expressed interest in developing LNG facilities, including fueling facilities for heavy-duty trucks.

The Council also notes that the regulation embraces an established and tested national accepted protocol for the design of LNG facilities, as detailed in the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) codes.

Changes to workers’ comp

Governor Cuomo announced New York’s workers’ comp system would reduce assessment costs to employers by 26 percent in 2014, saving businesses and local governments $300 million in annual expenses.  The Business Relief Act cuts the assessment to employers from 18.8 percent to 13.8 percent, the largest reduction since 1998, and provides a one-time workers’ compensation assessment savings to all self-insured employers of approximately $500 million.

Signed by the Governor as part of the 2013-14 budget, the Business Relief Act achieves $800 million in savings by reducing the cost to operate the workers’ compensation system, otherwise known as assessments, in two ways. Closing the Re-Opened Case Fund initially saves all New York State employers a $300 million annual assessment. In recent years, the cost of the Re-Opened Case Fund has grown exponentially while failing to serve its originally intended purpose. Closing the fund also reduces unnecessary litigation in the workers’ compensation system, another cost savings for employers.

Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president & CEO of The Business Council of New York State, said, “The Business Council welcomes this significant reduction in Workers’ Comp Board assessments and the new simplified assessment methodology. This fulfillment of part of the Governor’s 2013 reform package is an important first step in the continuing effort to make New York’s comp system more efficient, less expensive and less of an impediment to economic growth in the State. We look forward to working with the Board in continuing to implement reforms meant to deliver care to injured workers and bend the cost curve for New York’s employers.”

Casino vote next week

AR-131039867NY Jobs Now continued its effort this week to let New Yorkers know of the economic benefits that expanded casino gaming venues could bring to the state.  At a press conference yesterday in Saratoga, Business Council of New York State Vice President of Government Affairs Ken Pokalsky (pictured) urged voters to vote “yes” on vote on Proposal 1 when they head to the polls next week.

Heather C.Briccetti, Esq. president and CEO of the Business Council of New York State, who represented the group today at an event on the issue in New York City said, “This year, business and labor, Democrats and Republicans are working together to bring back the more than $1.2 billion New Yorkers spend every year at nearby gaming resorts across the state line.  It’s time we bring that kind of money home to create jobs, support schools, and take property tax pressure off our towns and cities.”

Proposal 1 would authorize four additional casinos in New York state and bring an estimated 10,000 new jobs.  Revenue from the casinos would benefit local municipalities and school systems.

Oil and Gas Association to hold annual meeting in Buffalo

The Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York (IOGA of NY) hosts its annual winter meeting November 5-7 in Buffalo.

IOGA executive director Brad Gill, said the meeting is open to all regardless of their view on hydraulic fracturing. “Even the anti-fracking people and opponents (can attend), as long as they pay the fee,” Gill told Business First Buffalo.

Neighboring states like Ohio and Pennsylvania allow the process to extract natural gas, which experts say has led to job creation and has boosted economies there. However, the process is not allowed in New York.

Among the discussion points will be hydraulic fracturing bans and the drilling moratorium in New York state. EPA emissions, land leasing and regulations also will be discussed. A session comprised of five New York State legislators, who’ll discuss the state of affairs in Albany relative to the industry, is also planned.

Tickets are $450 for IOGA of NY members, and $495 for non-members. More information can be found at www.iogany.org .

$1.25M geothermal project to start at Greater Binghamton Airport

A $1.25 million project is underway to power new parts of Broome County’s airport using energy harnessed from the earth’s natural heat.

County officials gathered at the Greater Binghamton Airport on Tuesday to mark the start of a state- and federally-funded project to expand the airport’s geothermal heating system, which will be used to melt snow on the aircraft ramp and cool the airport’s terminal building.

The project will make the Broome County-owned airport the first in the country to use a geothermal system to heat an aircraft parking ramp, officials said.

Kodak stock returning to New York Stock Exchange

Eastman Kodak Co., having returned from bankruptcy in September, will return on Nov. 1 to the ranks of companies on the New York Stock Exchange.

That’s when its stock will begin trading on the exchange under the symbol “KODK,” the Rochester-based printing company said Tuesday.

“This is an important moment for the new Kodak,” CEO Antonio M. Perez said in a statement. “The change in our symbol reflects that we are a new company that is focused on business-to-business products and services, well-capitalized and firmly committed to delivering value to our shareholders and innovation to our customers.”

Business Council Urges Education Agenda to Build a Skilled Workforce

The Business Council of New York State, Inc. testified at a New York State Senate Education Committee hearing illustrating the need to support Common Core standards, innovative learning models and access to early learning opportunities that will help prepare New York students to meet workforce needs.

“The success of New York’s economy depends on building a skilled workforce,” said Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State, Inc. “Many students today are unprepared to meet the needs of the workplace ─ despite the fact that New York has talented teachers and students ─ supporting Common Core, innovative learning models and early learning opportunities will help bridge the gap.”

These initiatives will foster an educational system supporting a trained workforce that is critical to the state’s economic health.

Members of The Business Council frequently cite difficulties in finding qualified workers. Although New York ranks second nationwide for educational spending, it ranks only slightly better than the U.S. average in math and reading proficiency, as measured by standardized tests. Nationally, 3.9 million positions remain unfilled due to a “skills gap” between the labor force and those required for the open jobs.

The Business Council recently announced a major emphasis on education reform through the creation of an education policy committee focusing on educational issues including secondary and post-secondary education and workforce development.

Earlier this year, The Business Council announced its support for the newly implemented Common Core standards as a means to prepare students for the workforce. The Council also partnered with New York State, education, and business interests to implement New York State Pathways in Technology Early College High School program (NYS P-TECH), a learning model that includes a workforce development component and helps students to develop essential workforce skills.

Business Council supports New York adopting LNG regulations

The Business Council of New York State, Inc. presented testimony today support of proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage regulations under consideration by the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

“The Business Council has long supported the advancement of LNG as a clean burning alternative, when LNG becomes available in New York, it will significantly improve air quality,” said Darren Suarez, director of government affairs for The Business Council. “By adopting regulations governing LNG, New York will join the 49 other states that have already adopted substantially similar regulation.”

LNG has been used in the United States, and worldwide, for over forty years and its usage has an excellent safety record. Adopting LNG regulations would also allow for better prices “at the pump” ─ as LNG costs less than gasoline or diesel fuel ─ and the abundance natural gas available would provide a significant boost for manufacturers.

Reductions in vehicle exhaust associated with LNG are just one positive environmental impact, improving air quality for many of New York’s urban and environmental justice communities.
Reduced emission estimates include:
• Carbon Monoxide (CO) by 70-90 percent
• Non-Methane Organic Gas (NMOG) by 50-75 percent
• Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) by 75-95 percent
• Carbon Dioxide (CO2) by 20-30 to percent
• Particulate Matter (PM) by 90 percent

“The positive environmental and economic impact of New York adopting LNG regulations is undeniable. For New York to be the only state not utilizing LNG does not make sense from an economic or environmental perspective,” said Suarez.

Health care economist Uwe Reinhardt to speak in Albany

Nationally known health care economist Uwe Reinhardt will headline a panel discussion being presented by The University at Albany and Business Council member CDPHP, in Albany next month.
Reinhardt is a professor of economics at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

Reinhart is professor of political economy at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He is also a trustee emeritus at Duke University.
The event on November 19 at The University at Albany is free. Pre-registration is required. Event registration and details are here.

To read Reinhardt’s take on the recent failed launch of the federal government’s health care Web site, click here.

Superstorm Sandy anniversary

As New York state and other states impacted by Superstorm Sandy mark the first anniversary today, Governor Cuomo announced a new Sandy Tourism Campaign called “Come See the Comeback” to promote tourism in recovering communities.

The campaign highlights the progress these communities have made in rebuilding after the storm and that they are ready to welcome visitors once again. The campaign features MTA transit discounts and promotions to promote travel.  A series of ads were also unveiled featuring recovering on Long Island, New York City and upstate communities.

Today, to mark the anniversary of Sandy,  the MTA is also offering free rides on the A subway line between Howard Beach and the Rockaway Peninsula and stations on the R subway line between Bay Ridge-95th Street and Court Street.

The Governor also announced $815 million in funding for a series of Superstorm Sandy recovery and rebuilding infrastructure projects on Long Island. These projects include rehabilitating wastewater treatment plants, upgrading Long Island’s utility system, creating microgrids to meet energy needs, and strengthening vulnerable bridges for future severe weather.