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Government Affairs Albany Update

February 16, 2001

Mercury Legislation

The Assembly has introduced legislation (A.4209/Brodsky) that would phase out the use of mercury in most products manufactured or sold in New York State. It would also require manufacturers to establish product "take-back" programs for mercury-containing products. This legislation would affect a wide range of manufacturers, including those in the electronics, lighting, auto, medical device, film and other industries. The Assembly bill is partly modeled on legislation drafted by the Northeast Waste Management Official Association, but goes well beyond the NEWMOA model legislation in several key areas. For example, the Assembly bill would prohibit the introduction of any level of mercury during the manufacturing process, unless a state waiver has been issued, while NEWMOA bill sets allowable de minimis levels for mercury. The Assembly bill would also impose new restrictions on the discharge of mercury from municipal sewage treatment plants and on the disposal of sewage sludge and incinerator ash containing trace amounts of mercury, and would require the replacement of mercury-containing equipment currently in use in the business and medical sectors – provisions not found in the NEWMOA proposal.While this legislation does not yet appear to be a high priority in the state legislature, there is a growing interest nationwide in restricting the use of mercury in consumer and industrial products, and in limiting the amount of mercury being released to the environment through the disposal of these products. And the Administration has asked us to review and comment on the NEWMOA bill.Therefore, if this legislation would affect your business activities, it would be appreciated if you could review the proposals and provide us with comments. The Business Council contact is Ken Pokalsky. ken.pokalsky@bcnys.org

Hazardous Waste Fee Increases

The only significant business fee increase included in the Executive Budget would affect facilities generating more than 15 tons per year of hazardous wastes or hazardous wastewater. About 1,000 facilities statewide would be affected. The Executive Budget (see S.1148/A.2000) would impose about $18 million in hazardous waste program fee surcharges, with the revenues used to help refinance the state's "superfund" program. These new "surcharges" would adversely impact both large and small manufacturers, as well as commercial hazardous waste management facilities and some municipalities. At the top end, facilities would be subject to $360,000 in new fees. At the lower end, facilities that generate just over 25 tons per year would be subject to an effective fee increase of $400 per ton! If this proposal adversely impacts your business, we urge you to contact your state legislators ASAP. The Business Council is working to get these fees taken out of the budget legislation, and your input to the legislature would be greatly appreciated.
Staff Contact: Ken Pokalsky.

Assistant DOT Commissioner to address Transportation Committee

The Transportation Committee will meet on February 26, 2001 at 1pm at The Business Council's Insurance Offices, 12 Corporate Woods Boulevard. The meeting will be held in the 4th floor conference room. We will have a guest speaker at the meeting; Mr. Frederick Hiffa, First Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Transportation. Mr. Hiffa will give a talk on transportation issues in New York State.

Also, we have invited Mr. John Casellini of CSX to give us an update on rail issues and taxation. The meeting promises to be very informative and we encourage any members interested to attend.