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Government Affairs Albany Update

March 14, 2003

New Economic Data Shows NYS Keeping Pace

New employment data for the month of January 2003, released yesterday by the State Department of Labor, show the New York economy performing in line with the nation. Private jobs were down 29,100 or 0.4 percent from January 2002, compared to a nationwide reduction of 0.3 percent.

The state's job performance may have beat the national trend if not for the continuing effects of September 11th on New York City, where private employment declined 37,000 or 1.2 percent. Outside of New York City, the State actually gained 7,900 jobs over this same period, outperforming the national job market. Most of this growth — 7,000 private sector jobs — was in "upstate" New York - i.e., outside of New York City and its suburban counties. Among the upstate regions, strong private job gains were recorded in Utica-Rome, Syracuse, Albany, Dutchess County and the North Country.

These divergent regional trends were confirmed by the January 2003 seasonally adjusted unemployment rate which registered 6.3 percent for the state, down from 6.4 percent in December 2002. The rate in New York City was 8.6 percent in January 2003, up from 8.5 percent in December 2002, while the rate in the rest of the state improved to 4.7 percent in January from 5.0 percent in December. The U.S. rate for January was 5.7 percent.

Senate Brownfield Legislation

The Senate EnCon Committee approved brownfield legislation this week that differs sharply from the modified Governor's program bill passed by the full Senate at the end of last session. This new bill, S.2935 (Marcellino), was forwarded to the Senate Finance Committee. Unlike the Governor's Executive Budget proposal, S.2935 focuses primarily on the creation of a statutory brownfield program, makes limited changes to the state's "superfund" program (ECL Article 27, Title 13) and makes no changes to the oil spill program established under the Navigation Law. The Business Council has endorsed this more limited approach, although we do not support S.2935 in its current form.

On the positive side, the bill authorizes the DEC to adopt brownfield cleanup standards that reflect "historic site use" and other site specific factors, authorizes post-remediation liability releases for brownfield projects, and includes targeted economic development incentives. Likewise, the bill leaves out several provisions of the Governor's proposal that have been opposed by the Business Council (e.g., the "presumption" of residential cleanups at some superfund sites.)

Unfortunately, the bill contains several provisions strongly opposed by The Business Council. These include:

The Business Council is preparing a detailed summary of, and proposed amends to, S.2935, which should be available for next week's GAC memo. For more information, contact Ken Pokalsky at 518-465-7511, ext 205.

New Acid Rain Regulations
Staff Contact: Ken Pokalsky

The Governor's long awaited "acid rain rules," (6NYCRR Parts 237 and 238) first announced in 1999, are scheduled to be finalized by the State Environmental Board at its March 25, 2003 meeting. These rules, which primarily impact large commercial electric generating facilities, are intended to produce significant reductions in the emissions of sulfur dioxide (S02) and nitrogen oxide (NOx). A preliminary review shows that, while some relief was provided on the use of emission allowances for compliance demonstration purposes, few of the industry-proposed amendments were incorporated into the draft final rule.

Consumer Protection Board Proposal to Increase Telemarketing Registry Fee

The New York State Consumer Protection Board is preparing a regulatory proposal to raise the Do Not Call Telemarketing Registry fee from the current cost of $800 per calendar year to $1800 per calendar year for those businesses who have gross sales of over one million dollars. Companies having less than one million dollars in gross sales for the previous tax year would be charged $500 per calendar year. However, these businesses must submit a limited revenue exception application along with supporting documentation such as a copy of their tax return for the previous tax year. We will be submitting comments to the Consumer Protection Board within the next two weeks.

Business Council Co-sponsoring Public Forum Featuring Ross Sandler

The Business Council is joining with the American Legislative Exchange Conference to host a public forum featuring Ross Sandler, Manhattan Institute Scholar and New York Law School Professor. Mr. Sandler will be discussing the book he co-authored entitled: Democracy by Decree: What Happens When Courts Run Government.

NASTO to Meet in New York State

The Northeast Association of State Transportation Officials (NASTO), an organization of federal, state and Canadian government officials that promotes engineering and construction best practices, regional interests, and traffic management and financing, is hosting its 2003 Annual meeting in Saratoga. The conference, which runs from April 26th to 29th, will bring together decision-makers from NASTO's membership, representatives from dozens of government departments (federal, state, local), as well as participants from various transportation, engineering and construction sectors. New York State Commissioner of Transportation Joseph Boardman is the host of the event. The conference will focus on the reauthorization of TEA-21 and its importance to the Northeast. The program will feature five key areas: Reauthorization (all modes); Transportation and the Economy; Transportation and the Environment; Transportation Safety and Security, and best practices in the transportation field. TEA-21 (the most recent federal funding program under the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act or ISTEA) is due for reauthorization this fall. New York's transportation requirements need to be emphasized in Washington as the reauthorization process moves forward.