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Government Affairs Albany Update

March 26, 1999

Superintendent of Banks Testifies at Senate Y2K Hearing

Acting Superintendent of Banks Elizabeth McCaul testified this week before a joint public hearing of the Senate Committees on Banks and Consumer Protection regarding the banking industry's readiness to deal with the Year 2000 (Y2K) computer problem. Acting Superintendent McCaul testified that the Banking Department has been working closely with federal agencies to implement a five step awareness plan, assess the status of New York State chartered banks, and assist institutions with Y2K preparedness. McCaul told the Senate Committees that there can be no guarantees of eliminating all glitches resulting from the Y2K issue, but the department has minimized the likelihood of any serious disruptions in banking services in New York. The few remaining banking institutions that have been assessed as less than satisfactory with regard to Y2K readiness are subject to enhanced monitoring programs by the Department. Acting Superintendent McCaul's testimony before the Senate Committees and a press release from the Banking Department are enclosed for your review.

"Green Building" Legislation

The Governor has proposed a new "green building" tax credit bill, designed to encourage the environmentally friendly construction and renovation of commercial office and retail building, residential buildings (12 or more units), and buildings used for "public assembly." As of today, it has not been introduced in either house, but we expect it to receive serious consideration this session.

Under its provisions, various tax incentives are available to both building owners and tenants, and specific tax credits would be available for construction and renovation costs, and for the cost of installing alternative fuel sources such as fuel cells and photovoltaic modules. Higher credits would be available for buildings located within economic development zones. The total state-wide tax credits allowable under the law are capped at $25 million over the life of the program, and no more than $5 million of such credits would be issued per year. The Departments of Taxation and Finance, and Environmental Conservation, are directed to make recommendations by April 2008 on whether this "green building" tax credit program should be expanded and/or made permanent.

Under this bill:

While the Business Council agrees with the intent of this proposal, it contains a number of provisions that have been of concern to member companies in the past, including the provisions for state-level appliance standard and "green" standards for building materials. Therefore, we urge that you review this proposal at your earliest convenience. We will be making the full text available through our web site, and we can also send you a copy upon request.

Governor's Task Force on Independent Contractors Update

The Governor's Task Force on Independent Contractors has been meeting regularly to conceive an amicable solution to the independent contractor status problem in New York State. The Task Force is addressing the consistency and complexity that surrounds the issue of classifying a worker as an independent contractor or an employee.

A facilitator has been retained to foster the Task Force's discussions. The group has planned to conclude their deliberations by April 15. A report will be delivered to the Governor's office shortly thereafter.