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1999 LEGISLATIVE WRAP-UP
Prepared August 11, 1999

Staff Contact: Ken Pokalsky

**To view the text of any bill listed below, click here and enter the bill number.

ENERGY

Passed Both Houses

Siting of Major Electric Generating Facilities (Art.X)A.9039 (Rules at the request of Tonko, et al.)** Support.

Clarifies that the Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment and the Department of Environmental Conservation may issue environmental permits for the construction of major electric generating facilities. Authorizes the state Energy Planning Board to conduct a study of the reliability of the state's transmission and distribution systems. Includes the Chairman of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority as a member of the board. Establishes a pre-application process to allow interested parties greater participation in siting proceedings. Also increases the amount of funds available to municipalities and local parties to enable them to participate in proceedings. Takes effect December 1, 1999.

**(The bill referenced above was introduced just before the close of the legislative session with a "message of necessity" from the Governor and has yet to pass in the Senate. However, A.9039 is expected to be approved when the Senate convenes again in the fall. According to a joint press release issued August 5, 1999, A.9039 represents an agreement between the Senate, the Assembly and the Governor. If you would like a copy of the press release, please contact Kevin Lanahan).

Natural Gas Importation Privilege Tax ExclusionS.6110 (Rules) / A.9019 (Rules) Support.

Excludes natural gas imported for use in generating electricity from the tax imposed on gas imported for self-use. The exemption applies to gas purchased by non-regulated generating utilities and by Independent Power Producers who do not sell electricity directly to a non-regulated utility. Effective January 1, 2001.

Reduction and Repeal of Power Utility Subsidiary Capital TaxS.6110 (Rules) / A.9019 (Rules) Support.

Excludes certain stock of energy utility subsidiaries from the .075% business corporation franchise tax by 30% effective January 1, 2000 and by 100% effective January 1, 2001.

Study of the State and Local Tax Implications of the Sale of Generating AssetsS.3612-A (Wright, et al.) / A.7554-A (Tonko, et al.) - Signed Chapter 239 - Support.

Directs the state Board of Real Property Services to prepare a study regarding the real property tax implications of energy utility divestiture of certain generating assets. Directs the board to submit the study to the Governor and to the Legislature by or on January 1, 2000.

Reduction of the Petroleum Business Tax (PBT)S.6110 (Rules) / A.9019 (Rules) Support.

Cuts the tax rate on fuels used for commercial space heating and eliminates the tax on fuels used for mining purposes. Fully effective April 1, 2001.

Bills Not Enacted

Increase of the Amount of Electrical Power Under the Power for Jobs ProgramS.2425 (Wright, et al.) / A.3115-B (Robach, et al.) Support.

Would increase the amount of electrical power under the Power for Jobs program from 450 megawatts to 850 megawatts. Increases the amount of power available to small businesses, farms, commercial and retail businesses and not-for-profit corporations.

Tax Exemption on Electricity Sold for ResaleS.2424 (Wright, et al.) Support.

Would eliminate the unintended, repetitive tax on power that is sold to the restructured electric power pool and is then sold a second or more times before being delivered to the end user.

Implementation of Joint Bidding for Street Construction Projects S.2284 (Goodman, et al.) / A.4222 (Sanders) Support.

Would allow New York City to include utility interference work - the act of protecting, removing, altering or replacing utility pipes and wires - in contracts for certain public work or city street construction projects. Also would provide that the costs of utility interference work are not borne by the city but are paid by the affected utility company, as is required in current state law.

The Recovery of Damages for Expenditures Made in the Performance of Governmental Functions S.6071-A (Velella, et al.) / A.8981-A (Rules at the request of Silver) Oppose.

Would allow a municipal corporation to recover damages for expenditures made in the performance of governmental functions resulting from the wrongful conduct of other parties, including but not limited to telephone, wireless, energy, cable and water companies.

Utility Workforce Transition AmendmentsS.3514-A (Spano) Oppose.

Would mandate the payment of worker's retraining, severance, early retirement, outplacement and related expenses through electrical rates and charges during the transition to competitive electrical markets. Would also require traditional utility companies to operate generating facilities for two years following the sale of such facilities to another energy company.

Minimum Motor Fuel PurchasesA.4422-A (Brodsky) / S.1256-A (Spano) Oppose.

Would render void and unenforceable any contractual or franchise agreement that would require a motor fuel dealer to purchase and or sell a minimum amount of motor fuel from a distributor in New York State.

Unauthorized Changes in Suppliers of Natural Gas and Electric ServiceS.2423 (Wright, Seward) / A.5913 (Pheffer) No position.

Would prohibit suppliers of natural gas or electric service from changing a customer's supplier of gas or electric service (commonly referred to as "slamming") unless such supplier complies with a requirement established by the Public Service Commission.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS

Passed Both Houses

Prepaid Telephone Calling Card Consumer Protection ActS.3354-A (Wright, et al.) / A.7896-A (Rules at the request of Farrell) Support.

Provides that pre-paid telephone calling services shall be subject to sales tax at the point of sale rather than at the point of use and enacts the "Prepaid Telephone Calling Card Consumer Protection Act."

Sales Tax Exemption for Telecommunications Machinery and EquipmentS.6110 (Rules) / A.9019 (Rules) Support.

Expands the telecommunications machinery and equipment sales tax exemption to include machinery, equipment, or apparatus used or consumed in upgrading cable television systems to allow for the receiving, processing, or transmission of telecommunications services. Similar equipment used for telephone companies providing internet access services is also provided an exemption. Fully effective January 1, 2001.

Reduction and Repeal of Certain Telecommunications Excess Dividends TaxesS.6110 (Rules) / A.9019 (Rules) Support.

Exempts telecommunications companies with fewer than 1 million and 1 access lines from the business corporation franchise tax on excess dividends. Fully effective January 1, 2002.

Bills Not Enacted

Full Broadening of the Sales & Use Tax Exemption for Telecommunications Machinery & Equipment S.3365-A (Wright, et al.) / A.6949-A (Morelle, et al.) Support.

Would fully exempt tangible personal property and equipment used or consumed predominantly in receiving, transmitting, switching or monitoring telecommunications services or internet access services from the sales and compensating use tax. Would also modernize and extend certain related exemptions by deleting antiquated language.

Disclosure of Rates by Certain Long Distance Telephone Carriers A.1836 (Stringer) / S.2882 (Alesi) Oppose.

Would require the disclosure and publication of long distance rates by companies offering "10-10" long distance services. Would also require such companies to play a recorded message informing customers of the cost per minute before the customer's phone call is connected.

The Wireless Facility Siting Act S.5956 (Libous, et al.) / A.6430 (Bragman, et al.)** No Position.

Both bills propose providing a uniform statewide process for municipal review of applications for the construction or modification of wireless services facilities, including wireless telecommunications towers.

**(These bills are not companion bills)

ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION

Passed Both Houses/Chapter Laws

Dam SafetyS.3653 (Balboni) / A.8125 (Rules/Dinowitz). Chapter 364. No Position.

This bill provides relief from permitting requirements for some small dams (less than 15 feet in height, impoundment capacity of less than 3 million gallons; and less than six feet in height regardless of capacity.) Expands upon the DEC's authority to regulate and bring enforcement actions in response to dam safety issues.

Registration of Well Drillers S.3619-C (Marcellino) / A.6248-C (DiNapoli). Chapter 395. No Position.

This bill requires all persons in the business of water well drilling to be registered by the DEC (effective January 1, 2000), and authorizes the Department of Health to promulgate regulations governing the drilling, maintenance and abandonment of water wells. While the legislature had previously authorized local regulation of well drillers on Long Island, New York had been one of only two states without a state-level regulatory program.

Passed Both Houses/Vetoed

Local Regulation of Pesticides S.664-A (Goodman) / A.1158 (Grannis). Veto Message #5. Opposed.

This legislation would have allowed cities to adopt local ordinances outlawing the taking of pigeons by the use of "poisonous substances." The Business Council and other business interests opposed the precedent of allowing municipalities to regulate the use of pesticides by private parties.

Land Use Regulation S.5399 (Marcellino) / A.8727 (Rules/Sidikman). Veto Message #11. No Position.

This bill would have required municipalities located within Long Island's special groundwater protection areas to include a more restrictive definition of "open space" within their zoning ordinances. The Governor's veto message cited inconsistencies with the state's open space plan, and possible Constitutional issues.

Passed Both Houses

Nassau County Enforcement of State Wastewater Permitting ProgramS.5894 (Marcellino) / A.8877 (Rules/Sidikman). No Position.This legislation extends Nassau County's delegated authority to bring enforcement actions against alleged violations of the state's water pollution control and petroleum bulk storage programs until October 2001. Previously, both Nassau and Suffolk counties have had delegated enforcement authority, however Suffolk County did not push for an extension.

Bills Not Enacted

Commercial Lawn Pesticide Pre-Notification Mandate S.2543-C (Marcellino) and A.1461 (DiNapoli). Oppose.

Both houses passed different versions of a commercial lawn pesticide pre-notification bill. The Senate version only applies to Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties and New York City, and allows those municipalities to opt into the pre-notification program. The Assembly's proposal applies statewide, and applies to a broader range of pesticide applications.

SO2 Allowance Trading Restrictions S.4917-A (Marcellino) and A.889 (Brodsky). Oppose.

Both houses passed different versions of an SO2 allowance trading restriction bill. The Senate bill would recapture the sale price if a utility sells allowances to one of 12 upwind states. The Assembly version allows for penalties of up to three times the sales price if the sale will "contribute to acid rain" in New York.

Green Building Legislation S.5549-B (Goodman, Governor's Program Bill) and A.6277 (Tonko)

These two separate proposals would provide tax incentives for the construction or rehabilitation of buildings that meet new environmental or energy efficiency standards. Neither bill made it to the floor in their respective house.

Superfund Refinancing/ReformGovernor's Program Bill #91 - Neither house has yet introduced this legislation. Key provisions of concern to The Business Council include: significant increases in hazardous waste management program fees; creation of a new state statutory cause of action for the recovery of cleanup costs and natural resource damages; and a "residential" cleanup presumption for Class 2 sites adjacent to residential property.

Site Remediation and Development Act

S.4918 (Marcellino) / A.6822 (Aubry). Support.

The Business Council supports this legislation that would establish risk-based cleanup standards for soil and groundwater, adopt CERCLA-type liability exemptions, limits and defenses, and provide environmental and financial incentives for the remediation and redevelopment of brownfields. Neither house acted on this legislation during the 1999.

A.874-B (Brodsky) and A.2044 (Grannis). Oppose.

The Business Council opposed these Assembly proposals to enact programmatic "reforms" and new financing mechanisms. A.874-B would have established a statutory joint and several liability standards, would have required most sites to be restored to "original conditions," and would have authorized new citizen suit and state natural resource damage causes of action. A.2044 would have imposed substantial new and increased fees on the business sector. The Assembly passed A.874-B, but did not act on A.2044.

UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION

Bills Not Enacted

Claimant Option S.5945-A (Spano, Wright, Maziarz) / A.8801-A (Rules, Request of Nolan, et al.) Oppose.

Grants claimants the ability to qualify for benefits under current Wage Report law and then demand return to repealed Wage Request law for setting weekly benefit check amount, if result would be a larger check amount; employers' experience rating accounts would be charged the higher amounts.

A.8801-A Passed Assembly.

Revamps Penalty Structure for Employers' Failure to File and Pay UC Tax Reports and Establishment of UC Control Fund S.5382 (Spano) / A.8610 (Rules, Request of Millman, et al.) Support.

Switches penalty for failure to pay UC tax timely from assessment of highest UC tax rate to dollar penalty, and establishes UC Control Fund with these monies; creates penalty for failure to file quarterly information reports, and dedicates these monies to the special Penalty & Interest Fund for funding legislative grants.

Limitation of Strikers' Benefits ProhibitionA.2943 (Tocci); A.3722 (Nolan, McLaughlin, Ortiz, Dinowitz, Cohen, et al.); S.2474 (Paterson) Oppose.

Continues current law paying strikers' benefits after 7-week suspension to active strikers and repeals 7-week suspensions for all others.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT & MANUFACTURING

Passed Both Houses

IDA Civic Facility LegislationS.6111 (Larkin) / A.7968-C (Vann) Support.

This legislation extends IDA authority to finance civic facilities, including non profit hospitals, facilities for the aging, college dormitories, and life care communities for three years. The legislation will also increase the project cap to $20 million, and repeal DASNY's mandated fee for health facilities. This proposal will NOT contain any new requirements for IDAs. The law will become effective when it is signed into law by the Governor. It will NOT be retroactive to July 1st.

Electronic CommerceS.6113 (Hannon) / A.9031 (Vann) Support.

Creates the New York Technology Law and directs the State Office of Technology to promulgate rules and regulations creating an electronic signature program whereby transactions that now require a "signature affixed by hand" could be conducted electronically. While the use of electronic signatures would be voluntary in this legislation, transactions occurring between businesses, individuals, and government agencies are expected to be affected.

Industrial Development Bond Allocation ReauthorizationS.4689-A (Alesi) / A.8806 (Rules) Support.

Reauthorizes the private activity bond allocation formula for distributing tax-exempt bonding authority to local and statewide issuing agencies.

Bills Not Enacted

Smart GrowthS.1367 (Rath), S.5893 (Rath) / A.1969 (Hoyt), A.130 (Brodsky), A.8386 (Rules), A.8387 (Rules), A.8829 (Rules) Oppose.

These proposals relate to establishing a statewide "smart growth" program whereby the state would establish land use standards for communities.

Prevailing wagesS.5417 (Spano) / A.3736 (Nolan), A.7559 (Gantt), A.3694 (Calhoun) Oppose.

These legislative proposals would subject private projects that receive financial assistance from a state or local government entity, such as an IDA or ESD, to prevailing wages.

Civil Justice ReformS.2277 (Volker) / A.4509 (Morelle) Support.

This legislation would enact the civil justice reform act of 1999. Some of the provisions of this legislation include the repeal of joint and several liability, establishment of a 10 year statute of repose, establishment of a $250,000 cap on non economic damages, and repeal of strict liability for contractors for scaffolding injuries.

Restrictive use of IDAsS.5602 (Johnson) / A.2481 (Hoyt) Oppose.

Industrial and commercial projects assisted by an IDA could be located only on land that had previously been used for commercial or industrial purposes.

Recoupment of economic development incentivesA.3325 (Bragman) / S.1988 (Stachowski) Oppose.

Requires every state and local government agency which awards economic development financial incentives to establish a policy to recoup such assistance if a business fails to meet proposed job creation targets.

Wrongful Death S.5487 (Lack) / A.8013 (Weinstein) Oppose.

Expands wrongful death awards to include payment for non economic damages, such as for grief and anguish.

WORKERS' COMPENSATION

Passed Both Houses

Disability Claims S.3314 / A.7711 (Nolan/Spano) Support.

Provides that the thirty day and twenty six week periods of limitation for notice and proof of a disability claim would not run against persons who are prevented from providing notice and proof due to mental incompetence or physical disability. This bill was a Workers' Compensation Departmental bill. It was signed as Chapter #167 on July 6, 1999.

Alternative Dispute ResolutionS.5941 / A.8650 (Nolan/Spano)

Extends for five years until December 31, 2005, the alternative dispute resolution system to resolve workers' compensation claims through collective bargaining agreements. It is waiting to be delivered to Governor.

Special Disability Funds S.5275-B / A.8462-B (Nolan/Skelos) Support.

Authorizes the assessment of contributions to the special workers' compensation special disability fund for disability following previous permanent physical impairment upon insurers, self-insurers, and the state insurance fund. It was signed as Chapter #188 on July 6, 1999.

Bills Not Enacted

AMA Guidelines S.5873 (Rules) / A.8611 (Rules) Support.

Governor's Program bill which would adopt AMA guidelines and cap permanent partial disabilities at 700 weeks.

Illegal Acts S.4124-A (Alesi) / A.368-A (Schimminger) Support.

The bill precludes payment of workers' compensation benefits if the employee was injured in the process of an illegal act.

HEALTH

Passed Both Houses

Tobacco Master Settlement AgreementS.5936 (Hannon) / A.8851 (Rules at the request of Grannis) No Position.

This bill implements the tobacco master settlement agreement (MSA) provisions governing non-participating tobacco manufacturers. The enactment of this bill is designed to protect New York's settlement proceeds against the chance of major reductions under the MSA.

IDA Funding of Health Care FacilitiesS.6111 (Larkin) Support.

This bill increases the health care project cap by five million dollars per project (up to $20 million from $15 million). The bill also extends the Industrial Development Agency (IDA) law until July 1, 2002 and provides relief from certain Dormitory Authority (DA) fees if the IDA could otherwise finance the project being financed by the DA.

Enrollment of Newborns into Medicaid ProgramA.7912 (Committee of Rules at the request of Gottfried) / S.4676 (Hannon)

No Position.

The bill is designed to ensure a faster updating process in order to enroll newborns who are born to mothers eligible for and receiving medical assistance. Within five business days, hospitals will be required to report these births to the Department of Health or its designee. Within 10 business days of birth, the Department of Health or its designee will update the records, assign a client identification number and issue an identification card.

Bills Not Enacted

Mandated Coverage of Infertility TreatmentA.7303 (Silver) Oppose.

This bill would make it mandatory that all group health insurance policies provide coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of infertility.

In opposition to the bill, the Business Council sent out an Urgent Alert on June 24, 1999 and a memo stressing the negative impacts that such legislation would impose on businesses.

S.3131 (Lavalle) Oppose.

This bill would have required medical insurance policies for hospital coverage and surgical medical care to include a diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions resulting in infertility, including assisted reproductive technologies.

Coverage of inpatient diagnosis and treatment of mental, nervous and emotional disordersS.2089 (Libous) / A.6235 (Brennan)

Prohibits health insurers from limiting coverage for inpatient diagnosis and treatment of mental, nervous or emotional disorders or ailments to a specific number of days.

Health Care Reform Act 2000A.8828 (Rules at the request of Silver)

This bill based itself on three major issues; 1) health insurance coverage for the uninsured, 2) hospital reimbursement, charity care and professional education and 3) health care payment issues. This bill would have extended the reform provisions of the Health Care Reform Act governing financing of health care services through December 31, 2002. The bill was designed to improve the accountability of health plans, expand health care coverage and health programs.

In addition the bill would have:

Physician Profiling A.1401-A (Gottfried)

This bill would have allowed New Yorkers to access information about their physician, such as educational background, awards and any restricted hospital credentials. Information made available would also have included:

S.5077 (Hannon)

This bill was intended to direct the Department of Health, the Education Department and the Insurance Department to study and make recommendations on issues regarding publicly accessible information about physicians and other health care professionals. Such information includes their educational background, specialties and malpractice histories.

TAXATION

Bills Not Enacted

Limitation on Homestead Discrimination; Application of PILOTsA.2747 (Diaz) Support.

Limits the discrimination against the non-homestead class to an additional 75% of the homestead rate; allows jurisdictions to apply Payments In Lieu Of Taxes by IDAs to be applied to the non-homestead class.

Assessor Testimony; Extension of Time to Commence ProceedingA.4750 (Harenberg) Support.

Authorizes a real property taxpayer during the judicial review of an assessment to call the assessor who assessed the property as an adverse witness to explain how an assessment was arrived at; extends the time period within which a proceeding to review an assessment must be commenced from 30 to 60 days after the filing of the assessment roll. Passed Assembly.

Reports Required of Electric Generating Facilities and Moderately Complex PropertiesS.5536-B (Rath) / A.8763 (Rules, Request of Gromack, et al.) Oppose.

Requires reports from owners of non-defined "moderately complex" and highly complex properties and of electrical generating facilities; repeals existing confidentiality protections and substitutes new provisions.

SMALL BUSINESS

Passed Both Houses

Linked Deposit ProgramA.7643 (Schimminger) / S.3896 (Saland) Support.

Removes the law's current limit of one linked loan per business during the life of the program. Current law only allows a business to receive one Linked Loan during the life of the Linked Deposit Program.

Linked Deposit ProgramA.7644 (Schimminger) / S.3897 (Saland) Support.

Increases the amount of money that the Office of the State Comptroller can dedicate to the Linked Deposit Program. Current law allows the Comptroller to dedicate only up to $100 million, this raises the amount to $150 million dollars.

Administration Fee Reduction For BrewersA.1301 (Schimminger) / S.4039 (Goodman) Support.

Reduces the administrative fee required to be paid by all brewers and wholesalers to enforce the pricing provisions contained in Section 55-b, from one thousand dollars to one hundred dollars for all brewers whose annual production is less than 60,000 barrels per year. Chapter 176.

Removes the Burden of Altering a Licensed PremisesA.7909-A (Schimminger) / S.4282-A (Goodman) Support.

Current statutory provisions require that certain alterations, having nothing to do with the regulation of sale of alcoholic beverages, may not be effectuated until an application is filed and approved by the State Liquor Authority. This eliminates the requirement that an application to alter a licensed premises be filed and approved by the State Liquor Authority in the following cases:

Increased Penalties for Payroll Record FailuresS.1372 (Spano) / A.3729 (Nolan)

Increases the penalties for failure of employers, except governmental agencies, to maintain and preserve payroll records as required by law a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $100 to $10,000, imprisonment for up to one year, or both.

Public Access to Documents S.118 (Rath) / A.1474 (Tokasz) Support.

Provides that an agency proposing a new rule or guideline shall make all data and studies which it relied on for such rule or regulation available to the public.

Stop-Loss Policies for Self-InsuredS.4537 (Seward) / A.7631 (Grannis) Support.

Authorizes insurers to issue stop-loss policies to employers who provide self-insured health benefit plans for their employees; specifies what such policy shall describe; authorizes rules and regulations by the superintendent of insurance.

Hearing Aid Dispenser AmendmentsA.6706 (Morelle) / S.3372 (Skelos) No position.

Delays the effective date of chapter 599 laws of 1998, relating to the registration of hearing aid dispensers, from July 1, 1999 until January 1, 2000; requires audiologists who dispense hearing aids to be registered with the secretary of state; increases the number of members of the hearing aid dispensing advisory board from 9 to 13; authorizes the secretary of state to impose a fine of up to $1,000 upon any hearing aid dispenser violating the provisions regulating such business, in addition to suspending the registration of such hearing aid dispenser; makes it a class A misdemeanor to dispense hearing aids without being registered with the secretary of state. Chapter 133.

Lease Termination A.3430 (Morelle) / S.1156 (Dollinger) No Position.

Authorizes a senior citizen to terminate a leasehold or tenancy to move in with a family member upon certification by a physician that such senior citizen is no longer able, for medical reasons, to live independently. Chapter 313.

Monetary Awards Pending A.4636-A (Morelle) / S.1463-A (Hevesi)

Makes provisions regarding monetary awards from an action pending at time of decedent's death or from action relative to decedent's death for the Commissioner of taxation and finance to waive any penalty or interest which accrues from the date the return disclosing such cause of action is filed, provided that penalty or interest may not be waived for periods beyond one year after the date of final judgement or settlement of the cause of action. Chapter 232.

Block Grant Extention S.5532 (Rules) / A.8040 (Rules)

Extends provisions relating to block grants for family and children's services; extends provisions for reimbursement of local social services districts under certain circumstances despite non-compliance; extends expiration until May 28, 1999 of certain provisions of chapter 432 of the laws of 1997 relating to mass transportation operating assistance. Chapter 30.

Charitable Trusts Reporting Requirements A.4662-A (Morelle) / S.2733-A (Wright)

Provides that non-profit medical and dental indemnity, or health and hospital service corporations, shall not be subject to the registration and reporting requirements concerning charitable trusts.

Bills Not Enacted

Medical Savings Accounts S.1838 (Johnson) / A.3171 (Robach) Support.

Encourages greater participation in medical savings accounts by providing a state income tax credit of ten percent of the individual's allowed federal income tax deduction.

Tax Exemption of Certain Property and Services Used in Farm ProductionA.8732 (Magee) Support.

Provides a tax exemption from the sales and compensating use taxes for certain property and services used in farm production. The provisions include an exemption for tangible personal property to be exempt if used in farming and also eases the requirement for the energy exemption.

Tax Credit for SBA Fees A.8254 (Morelle) / S.5640 (DeFrancisco) Support.

Establish a small business tax credit for Small Business Administration (SBA) guaranty fees paid by a taxpayer in connection with obtaining financing from the U.S. small business administration.

FINANCIAL SERVICES

Passed Both Houses

Fraud Prevention Measures for Credit Card IssuersS.3914-A (Velella) / A.5384 (Klein) Oppose.

Requires that the holder of any credit card issued in New York submit proof of identity prior to the card being activated. Also prohibits credit card issuers from mailing pre-approved credit card applications in envelopes whose exteriors make reference to the pre-approved credit material that is enclosed.

Banking Development DistrictsS.5912-A (Farley) / A.8272-A (Lafayette) - Signed Chapter 328 - Support.

Enables municipalities to apply for banking development districts in order to help preserve branches which were recently established in under-served areas.

Bills Not Enacted

Amendments to the Uniform Commercial CodeS.5286 (Farley) Support.

Would update and conform the state's archaic uniform commercial code to revisions prescribed by the American Law Institute and National Conference of Commissions on Uniform State Laws and streamline the now cumbersome check processing procedure by the Federal Reserve Bank.

LABOR AND HUMAN RESOURCES

Passed Both Houses

Signs Posted at Public Works SitesA.1839 (Weisenberg) / S.840 (Marcellino)

Establishes certain specifications with respect to the style and content of signs posted at public works projects regarding the prevailing rate of wages; requires that such signs be titled with the phrase " Prevailing Rate of Wages" in type of at least two inches by two inches; requires that such signs be capable of withstanding adverse weather conditions.

Penalties for Failure to Maintain Payroll RecordsS.1372 (Spano) / A.3729 (Nolan)

Increases the penalties for failure of employers, except governmental agencies, to maintain and preserve payroll records as required by law to a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $100 to $10,000, imprisonment for up to one year, or both.

Bills Not Enacted

Expanded Whistleblower ProtectionS.1453-A (Spano ) / A.3089 (Nolan) Oppose.

Originally increased whistleblower protections for employees in the healthcare industry, was passed by the Assembly and ordered to a third calendar reading in the Senate in March. Was significantly broadened to affect all employers and committed to Senate Rules. S.1453a (Spano) would change the current whistleblower protections in the labor law (a) by expanding protection from employees who report actual employer violations to protecting employees who report what they "reasonably believe" is an employer violation, (b) by allowing employees to refuse to participate in activities, policies and practices that they "reasonably believe" to involve an employer violation, and (c) appears to subject managers and supervisors to individual legal action apart from the employer. The Assembly version passed the Assembly on March 22, 1999.

Workers' Compensation and Illegal ActsA.368-A (Schimminger) / S.4124-A (Alesi) Support.

Exempts injury or occupational disease sustained in the perpetration by the employee of an illegal act for which the employee is convicted, from workers' compensation coverage. This bill passed the Senate on June 6, 1999.

Record Retention by Employment AgenciesA.2023 (Lafayette) / S.1605 (Alesi)

Relates to record keeping and mandates that all employer-paid agencies shall keep records concerning job orders and advertisements of jobs; prohibits employment agencies from advertising for jobs for which they do not have on file bona fide job orders without disclosing such fact. This bill passed the Senate on March 23, 1999.

Create a New Protected Class S.782 (Goodman) / A.811 (Sanders)

Prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation defined as heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality or asexuality in employment, credit, public accommodations, education, etc.; preserves an exception for religious institutions or organizations based on religious principles. This bill passed the Assembly on March 24, 1999.

Violations of the Industrial Homework ProhibitionS.2526 (Maltese) / A.4552 (Butler)

Provides for issuance of temporary restraining orders to enjoin violations of the industrial homework prohibition without a showing of irreparable injury or special damages. This bill passed the Assembly on June 8, 1999.

Sexual Offenses and Workers' CompensationS.3955 (Duane) / A.2049 (Tokasz)

Enacts the "protection in the workplace act"; provides that injuries to employees as a result of the commission of a sexual offense shall entitle the employee to all rights and benefits available under the workers' compensation law and, in addition, shall permit the employee to pursue any other remedies available; clarifies that workers' compensation should be exclusive remedy except when the employee suffers personal injury as a result of a sexual offense committed by a co-worker. This bill passed the Assembly on April 12, 1999.

Gender Neutral Language S.4032 (Goodman) / A.8413 (Markey)

Conforms the human rights law to gender neutral language and makes certain technical changes. This bill passed the Senate on June 16, 1999.

Tip Employee Minimum WageS.4467-A (Spano) / A.8667-A (Nolan)

Establishes the method of determining the minimum wage to employees receiving tips, which shall include the wages paid the employee by the employer at rate of not less than $2.90 an hour, and an additional amount based on the wage rate in effect against such employer. This bill passed the Senate on June 15, 1999.

Access to Public Agency Payroll RecordsS.4468 (Spano) / A.6923-A (Nolan)

Provides that state agencies shall make available for public inspection and copying, records concerning employee classifications, rate of wages and supplements and number of hours worked by the employees of contractors performing public contracts or building services. This bill passed the Senate on June 15, 1999.

Job Retention Rights for Returning MilitaryS.5885 (Morahan) / A.2995 (Tocci)

Provides private sector employees with the right to return to employment after ordered military duty in the organized militia or reserve forces or components of the armed forces of the United States. This right is similar to that of public officers and employees; makes an exception for seasonal or temporary workers. This bill passed the Assembly on February 22, 1999.

Mandated Workplace Violence Prevention ProgramsS.3036 (Spano) / A.3734 (Nolan) Oppose.

Requires employers to develop and implement programs to prevent and minimize workplace violence and provide ongoing training; provides for enforcement of such requirements by the Commissioner of Labor.

Increase the State Minimum WageS.4465-A (Spano) / A.8136 (Nolan)

Increases to $7.65 an hour, the state's $4.25 minimum wage for non-agricultural workers effective September 1, 1999.

Labor Union HistoryA.1404 (Tokasz) / S.1707 (Stachowski)

Requires elementary and secondary schools to have courses in the history, structure, activities and role of labor unions in the American political and economic system and their interaction with government and business, as part of the American history curriculum.

Mandatory Pre-Retirement SeminarsA.3745 (Butler) / S.5923 (Morahan)

Directs corporations partnerships, limited liability companies and not-for-profit corporations which are employers of 600 or more employees to hold annual pre-retirement training seminars for employees who are within 3 years of eligibility for retirement.

Compensation for WitnessesS.620 (Seabrook) / A.416 (Bea)

Provides that any person who is the victim of a crime or who is subpoenaed to attend a criminal action whose employer is a business, governmental entity or corporation which employs at least 100 persons shall not be subject to forfeiture of any compensation, wage or salary ordinarily based on the day or days said victim or person shall have rendered service as a witness in a criminal action.

Summer Unemployment Insurance BenefitsS.1595 (Patterson) / A.856 (Sanders)

Makes public school teachers and certain other employees of educational service agencies eligible for unemployment benefits during the months of July and August; applies also to professors of SUNY, CUNY, and other public institutions of higher education; excludes such months from classification as vacation periods for such persons.

Right To StrikeS.3142 (Walton) / A.5857 (Vitaliano)

Grants the right to strike to public employees.

Recognizes Domestic PartnershipsS.3273 (Schneiderman) / A.6286 (Glick)

Provides for the establishment and recognition of domestic partnerships; provides for the filing of statements of domestic partnership with the county clerk; provides for the inclusion of domestic partners in health insurance coverage; protects domestic partners and domestic partnerships from various forms of discrimination.

Of particular interest to Human Resources Professionals this year, was the passing of seven comparable worth initiatives by the Assembly. Six were passed on April 12, 1999 and one passed on March 29, 1999. None saw action in the Senate.

A.1337 (Stringer) / A.4156 (Grannis) / S.835 (Marcellino)
Comparable Worth in the Public Sector

A.4171 (Grannis) / A.7206 (Corrozza) / S.4169 (Stavisky)
Comparable Worth in the Public Sector

A.5147 (Nolan) / S.837 (Marcellino)
Comparable Worth in the Private Sector

A.5031 (DiNapoli) / S.3457 (Balboni)
Comparable Worth through the Human Rights Law

A.1881 (Christensen) / S.3039 (Balboni)

Permits Wage Discrimination Class Actions through the Human Rights Law

A.818 (Christensen) / No Sponsor in Senate
Comparable Worth in the New York State Constitution

A.R449 (Nolan) / No Sponsor in Senate
Comparable Worth Legislative Resolution to the U.S. Congress

INSURANCE

Passed Both Houses

Foreign Investment S.2935-A (Seward) / A.4975-B (Grannis) Support.

Increases the aggregate amount of international investment a New York Life Insurer is permitted to make under certain conditions.

Bills Not Enacted

Commercial Insurance Deregulation S.6120 (Seward), S.5525-A (Seward) / A.7686 (Grannis) Support.

Allows commercial insurers to participate in a deregulated marketplace under certain conditions. Also, makes changes to RBC standards, investment standards, and penalty levels.

Wrongful DeathA.8013 (Weinstein) / S.5487 (Lack) Oppose.

Would expand New York's wrongful death statue by authorizing compensation for grief and emotional loss.

Prejudgement InterestA.566 (Kaufman) Oppose.

Would require prejudgement interest in personal injury actions or that would provide for non-economic damages in wrongful death cases.

CONSUMER AFFAIRS

Passed Both Houses

Avoidance of Duplicate DamagesS.1556 (Lack ) / A.2597 (Brodsky)

Allows a defendant to prove as a partial or complete defense in an action for damages that the illegal overcharge has been passed on to others who are themselves entitled to recover so as to avoid duplicative liability.

State BrandsS.4324-A (Magee) / A.6547-A (Magee)

Provides that labels denoting state brands may be used in conjunction with and in addition to regional marks or names of growers, packers or processors in a county or group of counties. Chapter 209

Telephone Confirmation for Credit Card Issuers RequirementA.5384-A (Klein) / S.3914-A (Velella)

Requires credit card issuers to implement as a fraud prevention measure telephone confirmation including proof of identity, prior to activation, except for in-person transactions; provides that applications offering pre-approved credit cards may not indicate their contents on the envelopes; applicable to both solicited and unsolicited applications.

Criminal Sanctions for Underage Purchasers of Alcohol and Tobacco A.7480A (Klein) / S.6115 (Wright)

Makes provision with respect to offenses for a person under 21 years of age to purchase or attempt to purchase alcoholic beverages and tobacco products. Criminal sanctions impact.

Child Safety Device on Hot Water DispensersA.2969-A (Weprin) / S.4743 (Fuschillo)

Provides for notice to consumer that a child safety device may be installed on a hot water dispenser for no extra charge. Chapter 264.

Bills Not Enacted

Automobile Warranty Adjustment PoliciesA.7050 (Cahill) / S.4721 (Fuschillo) Oppose.

Requires written notice of an automobile warranty adjustment policy to any owner affected by such policy, requires communication of the policy to any owner affected by such policy, requires communication of the policy to consumers seeking repairs, and provides reimbursement to consumers who pay for covered repairs.

Consent to use Electronic Identifying Information S.5090 (Fuschillo) / A.7044 (Pheffer ) Oppose.

Makes unsolicited electronic mail advertising unlawful unless certain information is provided by the sender, including the sender's name, street and e-mail address; prohibits sale, lease or exchange of certain personal identifying information obtained online without the knowledge and affirmative consent of the consumer; makes provisions for penalties for violations.

Unsolicited Commercial Electronic Mail Regulation ActS.722-B (Rath) / A.5554-B (Schimminger)

Regulates the transmission of unsolicited commercial electronic mail advertising to require certain information to be included therein and requiring termination of such transmissions upon the request of the recipient thereof; directs the attorney general to provide enforcement by imposition of civil fines and attainment of injunctions.

CONSTRUCTION

Passed Both Houses

Emergency Construction ProjectsS.4243-A / A.8337 (Goodman/John) NYSCIC has no position.

Retains the maximum value limitation for emergency construction contracts to be authorized by the commissioner of general services by removing the sunset provisions which limit the effective date of the law to June 30, 2001. It was signed by the Governor into Chapter 117 on 6/22/99.

Prevailing RatesS.840 / A.1839 (Marcellino/Weisenberg) NYSCIC position: Oppose.

Establishes certain specifications with respect to the style and content of signs posted at public works projects regarding the prevailing rate of wages; requires that such signs be titled with the phrase "Prevailing Rate of Wages" in type of at least two inches by two inches; requires that such signs be capable of withstanding adverse weather conditions. Waiting to be delivered to the Governor.

Payroll RecordsS.5735-A / A5153-A (Spano/Nolan) NYSCIC has no position.

Relates to payroll records maintained by certain contractors and sub-contractors; requires that in addition to the original transcript of the payroll record, a summary transcript specifying the hours and days worked by each workman, the trade or occupation at which he worked and the hourly wage rate paid be submitted to the department at the completion of a project. Waiting to be delivered to the Governor.

Prevailing WagesS.5419 / A.8276 (Spano/Stringer) NYSCIC position: Oppose.

Authorizes public work contracts and building service contract fiscal officers to enter orders for prevailing wages, hours and supplements in such officer's own name, rather than in the name of the commissioner of labor. Waiting to be delivered to the Governor.

Bills Not Enacted

240 - 241 ReformS.2828 (Volker) / A.1598 (Robach) and S.2277 (Volker) / A.4509 (Morelle) Support.

Would amend Sections 240/241 of the Labor Law to reduce the absolute liability standard to maintain a safe worksite, to one based on negligence.

CONTRACT PROCUREMENT

Passed Both Houses

New York State Wine Preference A.825 (Luster) / S.2079 (Lavalle)

Requires that when state agencies, public benefit corporations or any other political subdivision of the state purchase wine in any quantity, that preference be given to wines that are produced in New York State.

Allows DOT to Sell to Other Agencies Their Products S.4762 (Trunzo) / A.8183 (Smith) Oppose.

Authorizes the department of transportation to enter into agreements with other state agencies, public authorities and political subdivisions whereby the department produces traffic-control devices and conveys, for appropriate consideration, such devices to such agencies, public authorities or political subdivisions.

Veto Message #10.

Bills Not Enacted

Enable Municipalities to Prefer Bidders Within Their DistrictsA.3398 (Wertz) / S.2300 (Lack) Oppose.

Enable municipalities to prefer bidders within their district or political subdivision over outside bidders, provided that a local bidder is within 5 per cent of the overall lowest bid.

Re-ManufacturingA.6984-A (Morelle) / S.3857-C (Balboni)

Provides that a state agency shall not purchase products which place restrictions on remanufacturing or recycling of such products including reducing the price of a product in exchange for an agreement not to remanufacture the product.

Procurement Stewardship ActS.3840 (Stafford)

Eliminates the June 30, 2000 sunset provision of certain provisions of the state finance law relating to procurements from preferred sources under the Procurement Stewardship Act of 1995. (This issue must be addressed in the next legislative session).

OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH

Bills Not Enacted

VDTsS.3572 (Stavisky) Oppose.

Would establish work rules work station design standards and other requirements for the use of video display terminals.

Safety Professionals LicenseA.5776 (Englebright)

Establishes requirements for and provides for the licensing of industrial professionals; provides such occupation focuses on the evaluation and control of environmental factors and stresses in the workplace which may cause sickness or impair workers health.

Medical MonitoringA.5245 (Nolan) Oppose.

Would require medical surveillance for workers in specific occupations thought to be at risk of occupational diseases.

TRANSPORTATION

Bills Not Enacted

Repeal of the Tax on Passenger Car Rentals A.60 (Gromack, et al.) / S.754 (Holland, et al.) Support.

Would repeal the 5% tax on passenger car rentals as prescribed in Art. 28-A of the Tax Law.

Amendments to the Divisible Load Overweight Permit ProgramS.4269 (Trunzo, et al.) / A.7674 (Gantt, et al.) Support.

Would amend the Divisible Load Overweight Permit Program and allow additional weight for carriers with 7 axle vehicles.

EDUCATION AND JOB TRAINING

The major issues in this area were dealt with in the J2k legislation, which was part of the budget negotiations and which is described in greater detail in the budget summary.

A strategic training alliance program was established for employer-driven skills upgrade and current employee retraining and funded at $34 million.

A state Workforce Investment Board was established within the Department of Labor and the DOL was named the state's lead workforce investment and development agency. The Governor will establish the board (to be comprised of 41 members of which 21 will be from business and the Governor will appoint a business chair.

The New York Office of Science, Technology and Academic Research (NYSTAR) was created. This new office will develop and recommend policies related to research and economic development involving colleges and universities. The office will be responsible for administering a $117.5 million research and development program and the Science and Technology Foundation is transferred to this new office.

STATE ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURES ACT

Passed Both Houses

Data AccessS.118-B (Rath) / A.1474-B (Tokasz). Support.

This legislation will require agencies to publish information on any studies or data that they have used in the development of new or amended regulations. It also requires that persons receiving state contracts or grants to conduct studies agree to providing the state with any underlying data related to the study.