Government Affairs Albany UpdateMarch 28, 2003
- New State Smoking Ban Signed Into Law
- Acid Rain Rules Finalized
- Legislature in Talks to Boost Corporate Taxes
- New York Day in Washington
On Wednesday, March 26, 2003, legislation was passed by the Senate & Assembly and then quickly signed into law by the Governor restricting smoking in almost all public places. A summary of the new law is as follows:
The law specifically restricts smoking in the following indoor areas:
- Places of employment (any employer employing one or more persons)
- Food service establishments (except certain outdoor areas - see below)
- Enclosed indoor areas open to the public containing a swimming pool
- Public means of transportation, including subways, underground subway stations, and when occupied by passengers; buses, vans, taxicabs and limousines
- Ticketing, boarding and waiting areas in public transportation terminals
- Youth centers and facilities for detention
- Any facility that provides child care services (provided that such services (in a private home are excluded from this when children enrolled in such day care are not present)
- Child day care centers
- Group homes for children
- Public institutions for children
- Residential treatment facilities for children and youth
- All public and private colleges, universities and other educational and vocational institutions
- General hospitals and residential health care facilities and other health care facilities licensed by the state in which persons reside - provided however, that they shall not prohibit smoking by patients in seperate enclosed rooms of residential health care facilities, adult care facilities, community mental health residents, or facilities where day treatment programs are provided, which are designed as smoking rooms for patients of such facilities or programs
- Commercial establishments used for the purpose of carrying on or exercising any trade, profession, vocation or charitable activity
- Indoor arenas
However, smoking restrictions are inapplicable in the following circumstances:
- Private homes, private residences and private automobiles
- Retail tobacco businesses
- Membership Associations - provided however, that smoking shall not only be allowed in membership associations in which all of the duties with respect to the operation of such association, including, but not limited to, the preparation of food or beverages, the service of food or beverages, reception and secretarial work, and the security services of the membership association are performed by members of such membership association who do not receive compensation of any kind from the membership association or any other entity for the performance of such duties
- Cigar Bars - that in a calendar year generate 10% or more of its total annual gross income from the on-site sale of tobacco products and the rental of on-site humidors, not including any sales from vending machines
- Outdoor dining areas of food service establishments
with no roof or other ceiling enclosure provided, however,
that smoking may be permitted in a contiguous area designated
for smoking so long as such area:
(a) constitutes no more than 25% of the outdoor seating capacity of such food service establishment (b) Is at least three feet away from the outdoor area not designated for smoking.
- Enclosed rooms in food service establishments, bars, catering halls, convention halls, hotel and motel conference rooms, and other such similar facilities during the time such rooms are being used exclusively for functions where the public is invited for the primary purpose of promoting and sampling tobacco products, and the service of food and drink is incidental to such purpose, provided that the sponsor or organizer gives notice in any promotional material or advertisements that smoking will not be restricted, and prominently post notice at the entrance of the facility and has provided notice of such function to the appropriate enforcement officer at least two weeks prior to such function.
This law will take effect on July 24, 2003.
The State Environmental Board has given final approval to Governor Pataki's "acid deposition reduction initiative." This Tuesday, the Board approved two new regulations, 6 NYCRR Parts 237 and 238 which, respectively, address NOx and SO2 emissions from large electric generating stations.
Part 237 applies to generator units with capacity of 25MW or greater that "sells any amount of electricity." Sources whose NOx emissions are capped at 25 tons or less during the ozone season (October 1 through April 30) are generally exempt. Part 238 applies to generator units that are regulated as "affected units" under Title IV of the federal Clean Air Act.
These rules will affect about 70 large, base-line electric power generating facilities that use fossil fuel (i.e., natural gas, oil and coal) as a fuel source. In summary, Part 237 would require that summer-time restrictions on NOx emissions - imposed to combat ozone pollution - be extended year-round; and Part 238 would limit SO2 emissions to one-half of the levels allowed under Title IV of the federal Clean Air Act.
The Business Council, and many businesses directly affected by the proposed rule, believe that these rules will have a significant, adverse impact on the price, reliability and future supply of electric energy in New York State. The Department of Environmental Conservation's own economic impact statement projected capital costs of $430 million, and average increases in the wholesale cost of electric power of 5.4 percent, or $370 million per year, with significantly higher cost increases in Rochester (9 percent) and Long Island (16 percent.) It projects job losses of up to 6,000 positions. Many industry experts believed these impacts were significantly underestimated, since they were based on overly optimistic projections of new generating capacity coming on-line.
Despite significant concern raised by the business community regarding the cost and limited benefits of this program, the final rule was not significantly modified from earlier versions.
Hard copies of the final rule are available upon request
from The Business Council. You can also obtain the complete
rulemaking package from DEC's web site at:
With the Legislature pushing for a mid-April resolution of the state budget impasse, key leaders are seriously considering a proposal that could nearly double the state's corporate income taxes.
The plan is reminiscent of the corporate tax increase adopted by New Jersey last summer, in an (unsuccessful) effort to end that state's budget difficulties. Like the New Jersey plan, it is being spun as an effort to close "loopholes"; but like the New Jersey plan, it would impose a new gross receipts tax and many other new tax burdens on the state's corporations.
The plan was initially drafted by the Fiscal Policy Institute, a union-funded "think tank" that annually recommends higher taxes for New York.
Save the date and book your hotel now! The Chamber Alliance's New York Day in Washington, D.C. is May 14. This is your chance to lobby on Capitol Hill for issues important to your local business community. The event kicks off with a Legislative Reception May 13th on "The Hill" with our New York delegation. Confirmed speakers for our Congressional Breakfast May 14th include Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton. The entire New York delegation of Representatives is also invited to join us. Then you'll hear the latest developments on issues of importance to New York businesses from experts in the field, during our Issues Briefing. Confirmed speakers include Doug Holtz-Eakin, Director of the Congressional Budget Office; John Faso, Governor Pataki's new appointee for transportation issues; and Jim Mazzarella, Governor Pataki's Washington representative. The afternoon provides ample opportunity for your group to meet one-on-one with your own Members of Congress and their legislative staffs.