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Government Affairs Albany Update

January 28, 2000

Another Wage Gap "Crisis"

"The current situation can only be described as a crisis. New York has, by far, the most unequal income distribution in all 50 states, and the situation is getting worse. This report should serve as a wake-up call for state leaders," said Trudi Renwick, an economist with the Fiscal Policy Institute.

So stated the Fiscal Policy Institute's January 18, 2000 press release announcing a new report from Washington's The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) and the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) called Pulling Apart: A State-by-State Analysis of Income Trends.

A week after the release of the report, its author, Liz McNichol, traveled to Albany and was guest speaker at the January 25, 2000 Senate Labor Committee meeting. Ms. McNichol briefly reviewed the report results with the committee members and recommended two "solutions" for legislators to consider. Not surprisingly, the two solutions are increases in the minimum wage and expanded eligibility for unemployment insurance benefits.

Not everyone, however, is buying the report results. Alan Reynolds, director of economic research at the Hudson Institute responded with an Op-Ed piece.

Attorney General Introduces New Privacy Protections

Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has announced his comprehensive plan to improve and expand privacy protections for New Yorkers. His press release, which may be obtained by clicking here: outlines his legislative proposals. His Privacy Agenda Includes: Financial Privacy:

Information Brokers:


Internet Privacy:

Junk E-Mail:

Credit Reporting:

Identity Theft:

The overall theme at this press conference was that the State needs to establish rules to define appropriate boundaries for information dissemination.

Governor's Budget Bill on Taxes Arrives Monday

Governor Pataki has announced that his 30-day amendments to his Budget Bill on taxes will be ready on Monday, January 31 — 17 days ahead of their Constitutional due day. This year's 30-day amendments are particularly important in as much as the unamended bill (S.6295/A.9295) contains details from last year's Budget Bill on energy taxes and is meant only as a "platform" for this year's proposal. S.6295/A/9295 (unamended) is divided into parts A through S; energy taxes are covered in Part A, the Sales and Use Tax proposed exemption for Internet web sites in Part J, and the refundable Investment Tax Credit for biotechnology corporations in Part L.

Electronic Signatures and Records Act Meetings Scheduled

The Office For Technology (OFT) is seeking representatives from the private and public sector to attend upcoming meetings and to volunteer as representatives on work groups to provide input and comment regarding the issues of technology, legal issues and business policies as they relate to the implementation of the Act. Fourteen meetings have been set up around the state at seven locations to gather input from local government (municipal leaders, local government associations) and the private sector (businesses, vendors, industry associations) regarding issues to be addressed by the work groups being formed. These are open meetings and work group members will be determined from the meeting attendees. Each half day meeting will cover:

  1. an overview of the Electronic Signatures and Records Act and OFT's implementation plans a facilitated discussion of issues for the work groups to explore in the areas of Business/Policy, Technology and Legal a sharing of project plans for the use of electronic signature and records and
  2. identifying persons for the work groups. Please be prepared to share both your organization's issues and areas that you feel need to be addressed as we develop regulations and guidelines and examples of projects which your organization is planning or in the process of developing which will utilize electronic signature and/or electronic records under the law.

People that previously submitted names to OFT for participation on steering committees should attend one of these meetings, as the final participants will be selected based upon these meetings. Please feel free to forward this message to others that may be interested in attending. For additional information, please contact Diana A. Ehrlich.

Financing of Education in New York State

The Campaign for Fiscal Equity is a coalition of parent organizations, community school boards, concerned citizens and advocacy groups. Their lawsuit, CFE vs. State of New York contends that children in New York State are denied their constitutional right to a sound basic education because of inequitable distribution of state funds and the differing property wealth of the state's school districts.

Supporting Higher Standards and Regents' Graduation Requirements

It is important for the legislature to know that business in New York State supports the new higher education standards and Regents' graduation Requirements. Peter Bijur, CEO of Texaco, Inc. and chairman of The Business Council's Board of Directors, has sent such a letter to the Senate and Assembly leadership and urges that you send a similar letter to your legislator, to the chairs of the Senate and Assembly Education Committee and the legislative leadership.