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Government Affairs Albany Update

May 13, 1999

Civil Justice Reform Lobby Day

May 11th was Civil Justice Reform Lobby Day. Nearly 200 tort reform advocates joined with The Business Council and New Yorkers for Civil Justice Reform to meet with 93 legislators on this important issue. Click here for the Volker/Morelle Civil Justice Reform Act legislation (S.2277/A.4509). We urge all GAC members to write to your legislators in support of this legislation.

NYC Commuter Income Tax On Way Out for New Yorkers Now; Maybe for Out-of-Staters Later

In a sudden turn of events, the State will repeal presently the New York City Income Tax on commuters resident in New York saving taxpayers $210 million annually. The anticipated law includes a proviso that if the New York resident-only repeal is overturned in court on the ground that it discriminates against out-of-State residents, then the repeal will be extended to out-of-State residents for an additional, annual savings of $150 million. The tax currently is imposed (on other than low-income earners) at the rate of 0.45%.

Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno announced his support of the measure last week, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Governor George Pataki did likewise on Wednesday this week. City of New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is opposed to the repeal and will bring suit to overturn the new law on the ground that repeal requires City approval. Legislative passage is slated for next week and gubernatorial approval thereafter.

Toxic Release Inventory

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has issued its annual report on "toxic release inventory" data. This reporting program, established by 1986 amendments to the federal "superfund" law, applies to manufacturing firms that make or otherwise use significant amounts of 600 listed chemicals. In 1997, 659 facilities in New York State submitted TRI report forms (Form Rs).

In summary, the DEC report said that 29.9 million pounds of TRI chemicals were released into the environment in 1997. Total releases were 5 percent lower than the previous year, and - using data "normalized" to exclude changes in reporting requirements - 68 percent less than the total reported in 1988,. Additionally, 5.32 million pounds were released to public sewer systems, a reduction of 20 percent from the previous year, and 77 percent below the "normalized" 1988 level.

The 88 page report is available on the DEC's web site. It contains more than 70 pages of charts and tables showing TRI emissions by media, by contaminant and by source. The appendix includes a table identifying releases for all 659 facilities that filed Form Rs last year, and a listing of all 199 substances listed on Form Rs, both in descending order of total releases reported.

To obtain a copy from DEC's web site, click here.

Pollution Prevention Grant Program

The Empire State Development Corporation is launching a new business pollution prevention assistance program. The "Environmental Investment Program," which was enacted by the state Legislature last session, will make grants to private sector entities for projects related to waste reduction, pollution prevention and recycling. Grants for capital acquisitions are capped at $500,000, and grants for research and development efforts are capped at $200,000. Funding proposals must be submitted by September 28, 1999 for the first round of grants. The ESDC is holding a series of seminars across the state this summer to introduce the business community to this new program.