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The Senate Labor Committee Tuesday approved a bill that would bar parents who abandon or refuse to support their offspring from collecting workers’ compensation death benefits on behalf of the child. Sen. Guy J. Velella’s legislation, S6813, was sparked by two appellate court decisions that awarded Sept. 11, 2001, workers’ compensation benefits to fathers who had abandoned their sons. The Appellate Division, 3rd Department, said the workers’ compensation law allows surviving parents to collect death benefits and makes no exception for those who have abandoned their children. Velella’s bill, which is fast-tracked for approval in both houses, would essentially add to the workers’ compensation law a provision that is already part of the Estates, Powers and Trusts Law and prevent neglectful parents from cashing in on the death of a child. “Under current law, a parent who fails to provide for, or abandons a child, is expressly disqualified from inheriting from a child who dies intestate, or receiving the proceeds of an action for the wrongful death of the child,” the Bronx Republican said in his bill justification message. “However, there is no comparable exclusion in the Workers’ Compensation Law.” The recent 3rd Department cases illustrate the issue. In Matter of Caldwell, 93704, and Matter of Crisman, 94227, fathers who had essentially abandoned their sons were allowed to collect $25,000 workers’ compensation death benefits after their grown children were killed in the World Trade Center attacks. After the first ruling, on April 1, Velella, chairman of the Labor Committee, drafted legislation to change the rules. Tuesday, he brought the matter to his committee, which offered its unanimous support. Velella said identical legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Stephen B. Kaufman, D-Bronx, is on the priority list in the lower house. Also Tuesday, the Labor Committee reported bills that would: � Allow losing bidders to seek damages against the prevailing bidder for failure to comply with the Labor Law. Velella is carrying S5573, which is being promoted by the Empire State Regional Council of Carpenters. The trade group argues that some unscrupulous contractors are winning bids because they submit estimates that do not include prevailing wages, taxes or other assessments. Velella’s bill would hold them accountable for triple damages for failure to pay those required amounts. � Exclude media sales representatives from unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation benefits. Sen. Dean G. Skelos, R-Nassau, sponsor of S4456, said the bill would make it clear that sales representatives who sell magazine subscriptions, renewals and advertising as independent contractors are not entitled to unemployment benefits or workers’ compensation. He said in his justification that current law does not specifically exclude those representatives from benefits. “These individuals perform services pursuant to written contracts and have no expectation of receiving employment related benefits,” Skelos said. � Authorize the labor commissioner to access unemployment insurance records to enforce various provisions of the Labor Law. Now, the commissioner can get those records only for purposes of enforcing the unemployment insurance provisions of the law. Under S4793, by Sen. Charles Fuschillo Jr., R-Freeport, the commissioner would have access to those records “when enforcing other provisions in the Labor Law, such as labor standard violations, safety and health violations and violations of provisions related to public work.” � Require disclosure of records of public works projects. Sen. Nicholas A. Spano, R-Westchester, is sponsoring S4610. The bill would amend the Labor Law and the Public Officers Law to require disclosure of wage rates, work hours and other details of workers employed on government projects. It would not require disclosure of identifying information, such as names, telephone numbers, addresses or social security numbers. Spano said the aim of the legislation is to permit “verification that properly enrolled apprentices have been correctly designated by their employer on a construction project.”

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