Government Affairs Albany UpdateMarch 12, 1999
The Business Council has initiated a "Thought You'd Like to Know" series which will periodically look at the health care financing system from a business perspective.
The third in the series was released this week. It deals with dispelling the myth that graduate medical education taxes paid by business lead to more biomedical research funding from the National Institutes of Health.
The State Assembly has introduced several bills that would implement radical changes to New York's hazardous waste cleanup program. These include:
(Brodsky) - Introduced as the "Comprehensive Environmental Cleanup Act,"
key provisions of this bill would: require that contaminated sites to be
cleaned up to pre-release conditions regardless of the public health benefit,
technical feasibility, or cost of doing so; largely repeal the "significant
threat" threshold for state enforcement authority; expand Title 13 to address
"hazardous substance" disposal sites; authorize the Attorney General to
take independent action to force cleanups; establish a new citizen participation
and technical assistance grant program; establish a strict, joint and several
liability standard in statute; and authorize state-level "superfund" citizen
suits. This bill has been approved by the Assembly Environmental Conservation
Committee and is now under consideration by the Assembly Codes Committee.
- A.2044 (Grannis) - Other than replicating several provisions of A.874-B - including those related to cleanup standards, hazardous substance sites, and citizen participation - the key provisions of this bill related to fees. It would quadruple several existing fees, including "special assessments" on hazardous waste disposal, hazardous waste program and permit fees, and surcharges on major petroleum storage facility licence fees. It would also establish new "feedstock" fees on about 160 listed materials. These fees generally range from $47 to $77 per ton, although lower fees would be imposed on some substances, including chlorine ($13.52), sodium hydroxide ($10.00), and copper and steel ($2.00). They also would be indexed to increases in the consumer price index. According to the sponsor's memo, the goal of this fee program is to reduce the use of these "chemicals" in New York State. The sponsor believes that these new and increased fees will generate approximately $208 million per year, and this fee income combined with a 25 percent "match" from general fund resources, would support $2.5 billion in remediation projects over an eight-year period. On a positive note, the bill also establishes several tax incentives and expands several economic development programs to non-responsible parties that conduct cleanups at contaminated sites. This proposal has not yet been considered by the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee.
We urge you to contact the bills' sponsors as well as your Assembly representatives to express your opposition to these bills. Contact Ken Pokalsky for more information.