Government Affairs Albany UpdateMarch 31, 2000
The next meeting of the full Government Affairs Council is set for Tuesday, March 21st. Assemblyman Tom DiNapoli, Chairman of the Assembly Local Governments Committee is the featured speaker. Business Council staff will provide updates on a range of topics, including tax cuts, power for jobs, and privacy legislation. No advance registration is needed.
On Thursday, Assemblyman Robin Schimminger (D-Erie County), chair of the Assembly Committee on Economic Development, announced a bill that would phase-out the gross receipts tax on energy over a two year period.
Governor Pataki and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno have already urged repeal of the energy GRT. Their proposals would phase out the tax over five years and three years, respectively.
"With New York businesses and families paying among the highest energy rates in the nation, it's critical that we reduce those costs in order to become competitive," Schimminger said. "The high cost of energy is a key reason why upstate New York's economy continues to lag behind the national and downstate pace of job growth."
The Schimminger legislation would also phase out the "gas import privilege tax," a tax imposed on the out-of-state purchase of natural gas. Further, it contains a fully refundable GRT credit, effective January 1, 2000, for manufacturing businesses that would cover the full amount of the GRT that is passed on to them in their energy bills. The Business Council applauded this proposal, which advances our goal of eliminating this anti-competitive tax as soon as possible. As of today, no bill number has been assigned to this legislation. We will get that information to you next week.
We strongly encourage you to contact your Assembly representatives to urge them to co-sponsor and endorse this proposal.
The Senate Majority Task Force on Privacy Invasion has released their report and recommendations which establishes new privacy protections in New York State. The 76 page Task Force Report includes more than 50 recommendations. I have highlighted a few below.
- Advance identity theft legislation to make it a crime to knowingly obtain one's personal information with the intent to use that information to obtain goods or services in another's name;
- Provide for an "expedited" process whereby identity theft victims can petition a court or administrative body to make a finding and issue an order in cases where evidence of identity theft can be clearly demonstrated, to facilitate efforts to restore the victim's credit history;
- Increase civil penalties for credit reporting agencies' willful noncompliance with the resolution of identity theft matters; and
- Prohibit inmates from accessing personal information either through mail or via computerized databases when working on State contracts.
- Provide individuals with the right to "opt-out" of having their personal information sold or shared by data dealers;
- Require financial institutions and businesses to notify customers that their personal information may be used for marketing purposes;
- Provide customers the ability to opt-out of having their personal information sold or leased for marketing purposes;
- Require Credit Reporting Agencies (CRAs) to annually provide one free copy of a consumer's credit report, upon request;
- Require CRAs to include a list of each third party that has requested information on the consumer, during the preceding 12 months, for any purpose;
- Create a state "do-not-call" list;
- Require telemarketers to be bonded and registered with the Department of State;
- Advance legislation to prohibit insurers, pharmacies, hospitals, public and private health clinics, health care providers, health care practitioners, and health care facilities from sharing or selling personally identifying medical/health information for any purpose not directly related to the patient's/client's treatment or account maintenance without his or her consent unless otherwise required by federal or state statute.
- The Task Force was created by Senator Bruno in February of 1999. Public hearings were held in Albany, Mineola and Rochester. Testimony was received from almost three dozen individuals and organizations representing State and local governments, the private sector including financial services and the retail industry, as well as experts on privacy issues.