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ALBANY, N.Y. -- In his 2013 State of the State Address, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo touched on several issues that could impact the state's convenience store industry. Specifically, Cuomo proposed increasing the state's minimum wage, requiring back-up generators for certain gas stations, workers compenstation/unemployment insurance reforms, and duty-free Taste NY stores.
With so much to digest, the New York Association of Convenience Stores (NYACS) broke down the highlights of the speech for its members.
According to the association, Cuomo proposed raising New York's minimum wage to $8.75 per hour; it currently stands at $7.25. Nineteen states have a minimum wage higher that New York, Cuomo pointed out, including three bordering states -- Connecticut, Vermont and Massachusetts.
In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, emergency preparedness has become a hot button issue in the state. Two major problems that occurred following the Oct. 29 storm were widespread power outages and the effect it had on distributing fuel to motorists, which caused New York City to adopt an odd-even gas rationing system, as CSNews Online previously reported. As a result, according to NYACS, Cuomo has proposed requiring certain gas stations to have back-up generators. With more than 6,000 service stations in New York state, the governor wants to ensure that those located in strategic areas have a back-up power capacity because it is essential to maintaining the ability to distribute fuel during a power outage.
Distribution also remained a problem long after the storm subsided. To that end, Cuomo brought up the need a Strategic Fuel Reserve to protect New York from a fuel shortage or prolonged disruption to the supply chain, according to NYACS.
As for reforming the state's works compensation and unemployment insurance systems, Cuomo proposed updating a financial plan calling for employers to pay off the national debt by 2016, instead of 2018, saving businesses $180 million in interest assessments; realigning incentives for unemployment claimants to find work; providing workers' compensation relief for businesses; providing relief to businesses and protecting injured workers by resolving employer group self-insurance trust liability; and increasing cost predictability, financial sustainability and transparency with pass-through assessment.
In addition, NYACS highlighted Cuomo's plan to open duty-free Taste NY stores. Under the plan, duty-free retail outlets promoting New York-produced products would pop up in high-traffic rest areas, train stations and airports. In addition, the state would work with retail outlets and farms to adopt the Taste NY branding to sell New York state products.