Government Affairs Albany Update
July 3, 2002
/ Predatory Lending
The Senate passed a bill which passed in the Assembly
last week (A.11856), which re-defines what constitutes
a high cost loan in New York State. While the bill
increased rate thresholds from a previous Assembly
version, it kept in place a number of troubling
provisions, including an expansive definition of
points and fees, a new private right of action
and severe damages for violation of the new rules.
The Business Council opposed the bill. Separately,
the Senate passed
S.7840, a "Chapter Amendment" to A.11856.
S.7840 provides for more reasonable damages and
other moderations of
A.11856. It is unclear whether the Assembly will
pass the chapter amendment. The Business Council
will urge Governor Pataki to veto A.11856.
The Senate merged a modified version of the Governor's
superfund/brownfield bill with his late-session proposal
on waste tire management, and passed the combined
bill largely on party lines and with minimal debate.
new legislation (S.7686-A/Marcellino @ request of
Governor) incorporated the unmodified bill text from
S.7798, which was last week's "two-way agreement" bill
between the Senate and the second floor.
The Business Council met with the Governor's staff,
DEC staff, and Senate staff, to discuss proposed
amendments to S.7798.
For a copy of our recommended
changes (which only addressed our most significant
concerns), please contact Ken
The good news is that many of the worst
features of the Governor's original proposal (i.e.,
treble damages, state cause of action for natural
resource damage claims and state cost recovery) have
However, the Governor's proposed
$18 million in hazardous waste surcharges, (and combined
$138 million remediation budget), "residential
(giving preference to residential-level cleanups
on certain industrial sites that border residential
property), and restrictions on the use of site-specific
cleanups remain in the bill. We also pointed out
several significant deficiencies in the bill, including
gaps in liability protection for lenders and municipalities
that foreclose on contaminated property, improperly
drafted language regarding project certifications
and others. Despite these problems with S.7798 – and
its provisions that were transferred over to S.7686-A – the
Senate approved the measure without amendments.
are that there is little chance that the Assembly
will pass the bill as is, and any additional negotiations
will again focus on cleanup levels, brownfield program
eligibility, and funding levels.
The Senate passed a bill
(S.7790 Seward / A.11821 Grannis), previously passed
by the Assembly, that would enable insurance companies
to revise the manner in which deferred tax assets
are treated under the Insurance Law by allowing
insurers to count them as admitted assets under certain
circumstances and within certain limitations. The
proposal, modeled after National Association of
Insurance Commissioners recommendations, would
bring New York more in line with other states in
their accounting of certain assets by insurers.
The union organizing bill passed the state Senate
by a 55 to 1 vote. Senator Mary Lou Rath from Western
New York was the sole Senator to vote no. The bill
had already passed the Assembly on June 26, 2002
on a 122 to 24 vote in that house. The Governor
is expected to sign it.
The bill, S.7822 / A.11784-A,
prohibits a recipient of any state funds from using
those funds to encourage or discourage union organizing
and provides a mechanism for the Attorney General
to require three years of financial records from
an employer "sufficient to show" they
did not use state funds in any anti-union efforts.
Business Council opposed this bill and organized
a press conference with other employer trade organizations
to explain to Legislators the downside of this
bill to businesses across the state.
Council also sent a memo
in opposition to the bill to all State Senators
on July 1.
to Forestry" Bill
Senate approved legislation – S.5574-C (Stafford)
/ A.9190-D (Rules @ request of Parment) – designed
to help promote the practice of forestry. The bill – pushed
for the last five sessions by the state's forest
product industry – establishes a process for
DEC review of local forest harvesting ordinances,
which are often seen as having adverse impacts
on the industry. Under the provisions of this bill,
an affected landowner, who is deemed to be conducting
accepted forestry practices, is allowed to petition
the Department of Environmental Conservation for
a review of the town's proposed or existing restrictions,
with the municipality subject to a 45-day waiting
period before enacting or implementing its ordinance.
The Department would then work with the municipality
to provide professional forestry advice and assistance,
but the town would have the discretion to accept
or ignore the DEC's advice.
The bill also requires
towns that develop a comprehensive plan to "facilitate
the practice of forestry." This will assure
that forestry is considered in a towns' planning
and zoning effort similar to agriculture and other
On the enforcement side, the bill increases
civil penalties for theft from public lands and requires
that any permanent or substantial damage to the land
or improvements thereon be repaired. Finally, it
also provides for additional damages payable to the
affected landowner in the case of a successful criminal
prosecution for timber theft.
Publishers/Broadcasters Allocation of Receipts
The Assembly has passed S.6553-A, Padavan - which
had passed the Senate on May 20. S.6553-A amends
New York City's Administrative Code (among other
technical changes) to conform the City's General
Corporation Tax (GCT) and Unincorporated Business
Tax (UBT) allocation provisions for receipts of
broadcasters and publishers - a conformity advocated
by the Committee on Taxation of The Business Council.
rules enacted in 1996 provided that income from
subscriptions, broadcasting and advertising is
sourced according to the number of listeners, viewers
or subscribers. The 1996 provision gave the Commissioner
of Finance authority to apply a different method
if the audience method does not fairly and equitably
reflect the activities of the taxpayer. Because subscription
rates, for cable television for example, may differ
from one location to another, sourcing such receipts
directly according to the location of the subscriber
more accurately reflects the activity of the taxpayer
than would an indirect method based on the number
of subscribers nationwide. These amendments specifically
provide that subscription receipts will be treated
as derived from the location of the subscriber.
S.6553-A's amendments are not expected to have
any revenue impact.
The 1996 amendments to the UBT were intended to conform
the rules for broadcasters and publishers to those
applicable under the GCT. However, the 1996 amendments
apply to more types of activities and more types
of income than the existing GCT rules. These amendments
bring the UBT and GCT rules into full conformity.
These amendments also are not expected to have any
These provisions are effective for
taxable years commencing on or after January 1, 2002;
S.6553-A now awaits transmittal by the Senate to
the Governor's Desk for his expected signature.