Post Budget Priorities and Activities
May 2, 2011
This memo summarizes our planned and expected advocacy efforts for the remainder of the 2011 legislative session, including both key legislative issues and administrative/regulatory initiatives.
We look forward to working with you on these issues.
- Economic Development
- Lobbying Act
- Financial Services
- General Councils/Corporate Governance
- Health Policy/Health Insurance
- Unemployment Insurance
- Regulatory Issues/Program Implementation
Post Budget Legislative Issues
- Economic Development
- The Council supports legislation, S.2446 (Young)/A.5296 (Schimminger) that would increase the effectiveness of the state's existing program to finance development-related improvements through local revenues resulting from growth projects.
- Both houses will again introduce legislation – S.4490 (Maziarz) was introduced this week - to mandate that energy utilities serve as a financing conduit for NYSERDA energy efficiency loans. The Administration has given conceptual support to this type of program.
- Legislation has been introduced to mandate utilities purchase a minimum amount of “renewable energy credits.” The initial focus is on a solar RECs bill, S.4178 (Maziarz) / A.5713 (Englebright), while other legislation would extend this approach to additional categories of renewable energy production.
- The Administration has supported adoption of a new siting law for major electric generators, but has not yet submitted legislation. The Senate Energy chair has introduced legislation, S.191 (Maziarz), which the Council supports.
- We have supported legislation, S.3798 (Grisanti)/A.5318-A (Sweeney), which creates a new permitting structure for entities with capacity to withdraw greater than 100 gallons of water per day.
- We are responding to separate legislation on Mercury Thermostat Recycling - A.3485 (Sweeney) and S.4345 (Grisanti), which the industry supports - that would create a manufacturer take-back program for mercury thermostats. We are working with member companies directly impacted by the proposal.
- The Assembly is again pushing legislation, A.3374 (Sweeney), to significantly expand state regulation of freshwater wetlands. The Senate has expressed interest in reforming the state's wetland regulatory program.
- A number of recurring bills will likely move in the Assembly again, including broad greenhouse gas restrictions (A.5346/Sweeney), citizen suits (A.4801/Kavanaugh), and others.
- Lobbying Act – It seems unlikely that new “ethics” legislation will impact the regulation of lobbying activities; however, we are tracking and responding to several proposed lobbying “reforms,” including:
- S.37 (Squadron)/A.5869 (Kavanaugh), which would preclude political contributions by registered lobbyists.
- A.5866 (Kavanaugh), which would require expanded disclosure of campaign contributions by businesses receiving state contracts.
- Proposed legislation that would change the Public Officers Law and Lobby Act by charging the Commission on Public Integrity to administer ethics trainings for lawmakers, staff and lobbyists. This same legislation changes gifts lawmakers can accept and receptions they can attend as well as requiring lawmakers & staff to report interests of any lobbyist who is a relative on their Annual Financial Disclosures (A.1900/Castelli).
- With last year's influx of Independent Expenditures, there are a few bills that would require financial reporting (S.3548/Adams and S.1694/Sampson) and clear identification of the authorizing party for campaign media (A. 1958/Gunther).
- Financial Services
- The Council supports S.2628 (Lavalle) which allows accountants licensed in other states to have practice privileges in New York.
The Council opposes S.4497 (Libous) which proposes to expand the Martin Act and would significantly increase the legal exposure of businesses; and we will remain vigilant for and voice opposition to any bills which propose to expand Martin Act powers.
We will be monitoring bills which advance state-specific consumer related protections or state-specific fees separate from implementation of federal Dodd-Frank provisions.
- General Counsels/Corporate Governance – So far, no significant adverse legislation has two-house majority sponsorship. Significant carry over bills from last session include:
- S.101 (Squadron) which requires majority shareholder approval for any corporate political contributions.
- S.447 (Krueger)/A.1710 (Kavanaugh), which requires corporations to make available real-time “remote” shareholder participation for annual meetings.
- Health Policy/Health Insurance
- Federal health care reform requires states, which elect to set up their own exchanges to serve the individual and small business market, to pass enabling legislation which sets out the framework for the exchange, if they wish to access the federal grant funds designed to offset the costs of implementation. Numerous insurance-related policy decisions need to be made in terms of governance, rating, and how products designed to be delivered through an exchange align with existing subsidized products such as Healthy NY. The Council will be supporting a framework which meets small business needs and does not use a Medicaid eligibility platform for the foundation for the exchange.
- Similar to last year, we will be opposing legislation which seeks to impose a broad-based autism health insurance coverage mandate, particularly if a mandate seeks to fund other than evidence-based medical needs (S. 4005, for example).
- The Council is supporting legislation, S.2837 (Young)/A.5448 (Morelle) that amends the Labor Law to expand categories of payroll deductions.
- The Council is opposing S.711 (Robach) which would mandate a 90 day unpaid leave of absence for employees to take care of issues relating to domestic violence.
- We will be responding to several “pay equity” bills that are moving through different committees (S.2200/A.6130, S.399/A.3690 & S.248/A.1780).
- We continue to watch several carry over bills, including S.1259/A.1485, electronic employee monitoring restrictions; S.535/A.5640, mandating a transportation fringe benefit program; S.3617/A.4258, civil cause of action for abusive workplace (the bullying bill); S.3730/A.2314, right to review personnel files plus any paid family leave bills that show any life.
- The Senate has already passed the Governor's proposed real property tax cap legislation - S.2706 (Skelos)/A.3982 (Silver), which the Council supports.
- The Council is developing proposals to reform real property tax administration practices, including requirements for uniform assessment practices and designating the state's Tax Appeals Division as the trial court for challenges on non-residential parcels exceeding $1 million.
- The Council is addressing proposals to allow the PSC to regulate pre-paid calling cards (A.4412/Rivera).
- The Council is opposing legislation to establish a new level of municipal review and approval of the siting of wireless facilities - S.579-A (Klein)/A.3843-A (Colton)
- The Council is opposing legislation - S.1112 (Parker)/A.3693 (Kavanaugh) that would require telephone and cable providers to permit a residential customer to designate a third-party to receive notice of past due bills.
- Unemployment Insurance
- Payment of the interest on the state's $3.2 billion in borrowing for the UI Trust Fund commences in the fall; repayment of the principal will start in 2012. We will be opposing any legislation which seeks to increase and/or index UI benefits which will put more pressure on the insolvent UI Trust Fund. We will be monitoring any bills which propose to restructure the employer tax tables and taxable wage base.
- Regional Councils - The Governor will be issuing an Executive Order creating ten regional economic development councils, charged with establishing regional priorities and directing a share of state economic development incentives.
- Recharge NY - We are working with the Governor's office and NYPA on implementation of the recently adopted “Recharge NY” program, which will replace Power for Jobs effective July 1, 2012 with a new 910 MW power program. Issues include timeframe for implementation, including early applications; contract issues; and others.
- Department of Financial Regulation – In additional to monitoring the implementation of the newly merged agency, we will continue to monitor issues specific to regulation and rate setting to ensure things do not get lost in translation as the newly formed entity is working on its structure.
- Ongoing Workers' Compensation reform through rulemaking and process changes at the Board. This includes anticipated rulemaking on Independent Medical Exams, Pharmacy and Diagnostic Networks, the Health Insurance Match Program and Impartial Specialists. The Board has indicated a desire to issue rules on cross-examinations, as well. Yet to be resolved is how degree of impairment will be measured and by whom, to effectively implement the permanent partial disability caps enacted as part of the 2007 reforms.
- SAGE Commission activities & Mandate Relief actions - We will continue to participate in and monitor aspects from each of these Governor initiatives to understand and advocate for members' interests as part of the overall reforms being pursued.
- Marcellus Shale – The Department of Environmental Conservation's review of the proposed regulatory framework for hydraulic fracking is nearing completion. The Council is a strong supporter of development of the Marcellus Shale formation, and we will be working with the Administration to complete this review process and begin the permit approval process.
- Brownfields – The Department of Environmental Conservation will be starting its five year mandatory review and update of its contaminant-specific brownfield cleanup objectives in 2011. In our view, New York already applies stringent standards and procedures for brownfield cleanups.
- State Energy Plan – NYSERDA has begun the process of updating the State Energy Plan, is actively reaching out to stakeholders, and has circulated a draft scope of the 2013 plan update. We have had an initial discussion with NYSERDA staff on this effort, and they have asked for additional Council member input.