Win Some, Lose Some in Last Minute Actions by the Governor

The Assembly and Senate passed approximately 950 bills in 2019, about 33% more than in recent years, which kept the Governor’s office busy through the summer and fall reviewing these bills and making recommendations to the Governor. Three bills of interest were acted on just before the end of the year:

Employee Liens – Governor Cuomo vetoed a bill that would have authorized employees to impose a lien on the business and personal assets of employers, investors and managers based solely on the claim that there was a wage violation. The Governor had proposed his own initiative earlier in the year that focused on the bad actors – those businesses that were actually found to have violated the wage laws – but it was rejected by the legislature. We expect this issue to be addressed by the legislature and the Governor again in 2020.

 Cure Period – The Governor signed a bill that directs state agencies to allow a small business to cure or fix a problem for a first time violation rather than face an immediate fine from the agency. The types of problems covered are limited to those related to paperwork or actions or omissions that are de minimus. We’ll have to wait and see which, if any, violations this will affect. It’s unlikely the State Liquor Authority, the Health Department, or the Labor Department will find many violations that this will apply to, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction for New York State’s policy to be that small businesses deserve a break.

Paying Alcohol Wholesalers by Credit Card – This bill passed by the legislature authorized beer, wine and liquor wholesalers to accept credit card payments from retail licensees and required retailers to pay a credit card surcharge to be determined by the SLA to compensate the wholesalers for the credit card processing fees they would pay on these transactions. We supported the provision allowing retailers to pay by credit card, but strongly opposed requiring retailers to pay a surcharge to wholesalers. After months of study the Governor signed this bill but with an agreement that the legislature pass an amendment that limits the bill to purchasing beer and cider and setting a fixed surcharge of three percent on all transactions. We’re opposing the amendment – a 3% surcharge for wholesalers is much higher than they’ll pay in credit card processing fees – and hope to get the surcharge eliminated or reduced before the amendment is adopted.