The national effort to force Wal-Mart and other employers to provide better health care coverage came to Albany on Tuesday, with legislators of both parties promoting bills that would require many businesses to provide insurance for some 450,000 workers who now lack it.Some unlikely legislators are supporting and sponsoring these initiatives:
The move comes after similar legislation passed in Maryland in January, though that was aimed more narrowly at prodding Wal-Mart. The company has long been accused of offering meager benefits, forcing many employees to seek health care from state programs.
In fact, one of the two bills unveiled Tuesday — both based on a proposal by the Working Families Party — will be sponsored by Senator Nicholas A. Spano, a Westchester Republican who in 2004 provided crucial support for minimum wage legislation, ultimately persuading Senate Republicans to override Gov. George E. Pataki's veto.And how about powerful Majority Leader Bruno:
Governor Pataki and the Senate majority leader, Joseph L. Bruno, the state's two top Republicans, have been cool to proposals in the past to tax businesses that do not provide health insurance. But Mr. Bruno did not rule it out in comments during a news conference on Medicaid in his office.
"When some of these so-called big box stores say to their employees, 'Here is an application to go apply to Family Health Plus or Healthy New York to get your insurance,' that's a taxpayer expense, while the person next door is providing health insurance as part of their overhead," Mr. Bruno said, referring to two state programs aimed at low income people.