FoodScan - May 6, 2013
FIA PURSUES WAGE NOTICE REFORM — ASSEMBLY MAJORITY LEADER AGREES TO LEAD EFFORT. By February of each year, New York State employers must provide each employee with a wage rate statement — in English and the employee’s primary language if DOL provides a translation — and obtain the employee’s signature or be subject to civil and/or criminal penalties. Among the information to be included on the detailed notice is rate and frequency of pay, allowances, and employer name/address/telephone number. [Click here for DOL’s webpage explaining implementation of the 2010 law.] However, collecting the notices has proven to be a burdensome and wasteful exercise for employers. To rectify the situation, this past week FIA and our colleagues from the Retail Council met with Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle (D-Monroe) to discuss seeking relief from the mandate. The Majority Leader indicated he had heard from several businesses in his district and offered to take the lead in seeking reform for employees who are in good standing with the DOL and provide a detailed paystub each pay period. FIA and the Retail Council also met with the law’s original sponsors Senate Labor Committee Chair Diane Savino (IDC-Staten Island) and Assembly Labor Committee Chair Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) who both indicated that they are open to pursuing reform along the lines discussed with Assemblyman Morelle. This “spadework” with influential legislators is especially important since last session the Senate passed a similar measure but the bill died in an Assembly committee.
FIA Contests NYC Soda Ban. The FIA along with the Business Council, the National Supermarket Association, the Bodega Association and the New York City Hospitality Alliance filed an amicus brief on April 24, 2013 to support the lower court ruling that the New York City 16 oz. soda ban is invalid as being arbitrary and capricious and having been adopted in violation of the separation of powers doctrine. The amicus brief argues that the Bloomberg administration minimized and ignored the harmful effect of the Soda Ban on the business community including loss of revenue due to competitive disadvantages, loss of good will, loss of inventory and retooling and redesigned expenses. FIA and the others argued that if numerous local health boards across New York State adopted different container size regulations, businesses would suffer substantial harm and uneven enforcement across other jurisdictions. Regulation of public health is a matter of state concern to be more properly overseen by the NYS Departments of Agriculture & Markets and Health.
21 Age Spreads North. Not long after New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn proposed increasing the minimum purchase age for tobacco products from 18 to 21 years of age, State Senator Diane Savino (IDC-Staten Island) and Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) introduced similar legislation (S.4863 / A.7105) to raise the state purchase age to 21 years of age for tobacco products. The bills do not impose any sanctions on underage purchasers who can present false ID, purchase, possess and openly smoke the product in public. Only the retailer is penalized. By the way, New York is open for business.
With Only 21 Session Days Left, Legislature Is “Firing on All Cylinders” with Industry Issues Pending. It appears to be a “dash to the finish” with only 21 legislative days remaining in this current session. Among recent actions on bills of industry interest are the following: Shop: Pride of New York (S.2774A) — promotes the sale of New York grown and produced food products for retailers and wholesalers who agree to carry 20 NYS food products and, in return, receive free advertising and promotional materials for the first year as well as be included on the Department of Agriculture & Markets website as a “Shop: Pride of New York” participant with a one sentence description of the retailer/wholesaler / reported for Senate floor action; Anti-Security Items (S.741) — prohibits the possession of anti-security items for the purpose of preventing detection of products offered for sale / passed Senate; ATM Disclosure (S.4363) — conforms NYS law with federal statute by eliminating requirement that ATM fee notices be affixed to or displayed on ATMs / awaiting Senate floor vote on May 6th; Underage Purchase of Alcohol (S.4101) — stiffens and modernizes the penalties for minors who purchase or attempt to purchase alcohol / reported for Senate floor calendar; Novelty Lighters (S.933) — prohibits the retail sale, distribution or offer to sell at retail novelty lighters / favorably referred from Senate Consumer Committee to Finance Committee; SLA Rulemaking (S.3653) — grants the state liquor authority general rule making privileges for the purpose of effectuating the alcoholic beverage control law / awaiting Senate floor vote; and Bisphenol A (A.1654) — prohibits the manufacture, sale or distribution of business transaction paper containing bisphenol A / laid aside on April 29th.
Senate Majority Coalition Co-Leader Klein Wants FIA-Member Input on Burdensome Regulations. Senate Majority Coalition Co-Leader and Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein (Bronx/Westchester) contacted FIA to request the industry’s assistance in identifying burdensome, unworkable, impractical NYS regulations or suggestions to streamline existing regulations (e.g., centralize licensing requirements to reduce the filing of duplicate information). Sen. Klein is in a pivotal and influential position since the Upper Chamber’s balance of power flows through him. His overture to FIA on unwieldy regulations gives the industry a unique inroad to positive regulatory adjustments. To suggest regulatory changes, please contact FIA’s Senior Vice President of Government Relations Michael Rosen at 518-434-1900/ext. 228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.