.As we reported last week, legislators and advocates in several states are gearing up to oppose legislation that would roll back long-accepted labor standards and weaken prospects for a meaningful economic recovery. Proponents of those measures are polarizing the political climate by vilifying unions and public sector workers. While, in most of these cases, the subject legislation may never be enacted, there is a danger that under cover of such divisiveness, other major anti-labor initiatives could quietly squeak through by being packaged more moderately.
This week, New York Governor David Paterson signed the Wage Theft Protection Act into law, ending a long grassroots and legislative campaign to address the myriad ways workers are routinely cheated out of a fair day's pay by their employers, all in direct conflict with federal and state wage and hour laws. The problem is widespread, and of colossal proportions in many low-wage industries, including the garment, retail, and service sectors.
During a special legislative session, New York state officials again have the opportunity to pioneer an energy efficiency policy that guarantees payment for retrofits for 1 million homes and businesses without touching the state budget. The proposed legislation guarantees the creation and preservation of green jobs in the state while also providing healthier living and working environments for the people of New York.
In a blow to states’ leadership over clean energy, the U.S. Department of Justice has filed a brief before the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that states cannot sue power plant operators that generate pollution. The Justice Department alleges that: (1) the Environmental Protection Agency has already started to regulate greenhouse emissions; and (2) states lack standing to assert a federal nuisance claim.
The Seneca Indian Nation sued the Paterson administration in U.S. District Court in Buffalo on Tuesday to block enforcement of a plan to gain tax collections on sales of cigarettes at Native American stores.
Legislation to end the practice of prison-based gerrymandering in New York, included within the 2011 state budget, passed both the Senate and Assembly last week. Once Gov. Patterson approves the budget package, the bill will go into effect in time for next year's redistricting efforts.
New York finally got some good news from Congress on Wednesday when the
Senate pushed forward $2.6 billion in aid for the state, after two
months of lost votes on the issue threatened to blow big holes in local
and state budgets.
Lawmakers completed one of the latest budgets in New York State history
on Tuesday night, passing a last piece of legislation that will raise an
additional $1 billion — in part by increasing taxes on the sale of
clothing and on a variety of businesses.