Bette Davis Was Right on the Seat Belt Issue

Buckle your seat belts: with federal and state budget deficits soaring at the federal and Tri-state levels, 2010 is going to be a pretty bumpy ride! Major federal health care legislation and a massive jobs bill continue to dominate the Washington scene, with Printing Industries of America, advocating on the industry’s behalf. The Employee Free Choice Act is still hovering and finding “back doors” to go through that may not necessarily require congressional approval.

On the regional front, Printing Industries Alliance (PIA) is keeping in close contact with the Legislatures as well as the Paterson, Christie and Rendell administrations to ensure that key initiatives protect your interests.

Gov. Chris Christie has made “reform” his middle name and to date has been initiating and/or implementing his campaign promises. Gov. Paterson, who has had his share of controversies lately, has given new meaning to the 1960’s phrase, “hell no, I won’t go.”

Numerous incumbent U.S. Senators and Representatives are not planning to run for re-election—which could spell future opportunity or disaster on the Congressional scene, dependent upon one’s political persuasion.

Makeup of current state landscapes is a mixed bag. Even with depleted unemployment insurance funds all around and the NYC paid sick leave bill of critical concern, there is still some good news. Here are a few activities of immediate interest to Printing News readers:

NEW JERSEY
Gov. Christie’s New Red Tape
Review Group
Printing Industries Alliance is making suggestions to Gov. Christie’s new Red Tape Review Group, outlining those regulations which our members feel are unduly burdensome on their operations and profitability. The Group is charged with making recommendations to the governor by April 20 on which rules to modify or eliminate.

New Jersey also has more than 700 boards, authorities, departments and commissions—what is commonly referred to as the state’s “shadow government.” Positions within these public organizations are often accompanied by exorbitant salaries and perks, all on the taxpayer’s dime. The new governor hopes to rein these and unnecessary regulations in significantly.

New Corporate Environmental
Recognition Program
During the recent lame duck session, the Senate passed 32-2, and Gov. Corzine signed into law, A-795 (Guscirora/D-15; Fisher-D/3), the Corporate Environmental Recognition Program. Its administrator, NJDEP, will establish a list of environmentally responsible businesses within the state, recognizing those that have exhibited “exemplary attention and concern for the environment.” The DEP Commissioner will on occasion provide public recognition in the forms of press announcements, citations and awards to highlight their achievements. For more information, contact PIA at (908) 233-4124.

Regulatory Relief Act for Small Business Redefines “Small Business”

Gov. Corzine signed into law a PIA-supported bill, A-832 (Chivukula/D-17; Schaer/D-3; Love/D-4), which updates the N.J. Regulatory Flexibility Act by requiring that an agency must conduct a review of rules that are up for re-adoption to ensure they have minimal impact on small business. Most importantly, the measure changes the definition of small business from one that employs fewer than 100 full-time employees to one which, along with its affiliates, employs fewer than 100 full-time employees or has gross annual sales of less than $6 million.

New BPU Program Pays
for Energy Updates
The NJ Board of Public Utilities (BPU) launched a new program called Direct Install to pay for energy-efficient upgrades at small and medium-sized businesses. It offers a free energy audit and pays for 80 percent of upgrades recommended by the audit including lighting, motors, HVAC equipment and more, as well as labor and material costs. BPU pays the contractor directly so no rebates are involved. Your facility must have a peak electric demand of 200 KW or less. It may not be applicable to many printing firms, but pre-press, design or other facilities may find it of interest. For more information, visit the New Jersey Clean Energy Web site at www.njcleanenergy.com/commercial-industrial/programs/direct-install.

Temporary S-Corps/LLC Tax
Increase Expires
The one-year income tax increase affecting employers who operate S-Corps or LLCs whose business income is taxed as personal income expired Jan. 1. This income tax increase had raised the top personal income tax rates to 8 percent on incomes of over $400,000, 10.25 percent above $500,000 and 10.75 percent on incomes above $1 million. Those rates have now been lowered to 6.37 percent on incomes between $75,000 and $500,000 and 8.97 percent on incomes over $500,000.

PIA will be working on a 4 percent corporate income tax surcharge to ensure that it expires on schedule on July 1, reducing the corporate tax rate.

We are also taking part in a multi-industry business coalition advocating for elimination of corporate tax penalties for firms that locate facilities and jobs in New Jersey: single sales factor corporate tax relief. Both New York and Pennsylvania, along with 21 other states, have implemented or are moving toward single sales factor corporate tax enactment.

NEW YORK
New York City Mandated Paid
Sick Leave Bill
Although the 5-Boro Coalition, which includes PIA and more than 20 other organizations, were successful last year in stemming the tide against passage of a mandated paid sick leave bill, the measure’s sponsor, City Councilwoman Gale Brewer, will be reintroducing a modified version of it sometime around March 11.

The broad coalition of opponents will continue to lobby against it and have placed ads in major NYC newspapers to educate others within the business community about its detrimental impact, particularly upon small businesses which cannot absorb its costs. Organized labor has taken a similar tack, but in favor of it. An all-out battle is expected to ensue.

Senate Leadership Shake-Up
By now, most New Yorkers are aware of Sen. Hiram Monserrate’s expulsion from the State Senate by a vote of 53-8. In case you were wondering who the eight Senators were who opposed his ouster, they are: Monserrate himself (who has since brought a lawsuit unsuccessfully against the state), John Sampson, Pedro Espada, Ruben Diaz, Carl Kruger, Kevin Parker, Eric Adams, and Martin Malave Dilan. Gov. Paterson scheduled a special election on March 15 to replace the now open seat. The leading contender appears to be Assemblyman Jose Peralta.

PENNSYLVANIA
New Work-share Program
SB-1205 (McIlhenney) would allow employers facing the prospect of layoffs to implement a temporary work-shared program to reduce employee hours and allow those employees to receive partial unemployment compensation in certain cases.

It would reduce normal weekly working hours by no less than 20 percent and no more than 40 percent. Shared work has to be voluntary for the employer and employee, and be approved by the Department of Labor and union of any affected employee. Time cannot exceed 52 weeks for an individual and no employee is permitted to take part in work-share plans for more than 104 weeks out of a 156-week period. Employers must also agree to not lay off employees during that time and not hire or transfer new workers into the affected unit.

A companion measure, HB-2160 (Bransford) is pending. Both measures are expected to be enacted into law.

For more information on these, or any other legislative/regulatory matter, contact Vicki Keenan at PIA’s Westfield, N.J. office at vkeenan@PIAlliance.org, (908) -233-4124.

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