Government Affairs Albany UpdateApril 25, 2003
- Business Council Staff Changes
- Legislators To Return Monday; Financing Plan Still Not Public
- Tort Reform Lobby Day - April 29th
- Assembly Brownfield Bill
- Campaign Finance Seminars
- New Thruway Director Appointed
We have several staff changes to report, one permanent and one temporary, as well as several temporary changes in issue assignments among our GAC staff.
As you may already know, Chris Pugliese has left The Business Council to head up northeastern U.S. government affairs efforts for Key Bank. His last day at the Council was Friday, April 18. Chris will be working directly for Key's holding company based in Cleveland, but his offices will be in Albany. Chris can be reached at (518) 257-9820.
Legislators will return to Albany on Monday, April 28 and are expected to begin the process of passing Budget expenditures totaling some $1.9 Billion more than proposed by Governor Pataki.
Other than minor legislation crafted to address the "Toys R Us" corporate ownership of trademarks in a related Delaware-based sibling corporation (and even that legislation has yet to be made public), elements of additional financing matching the increased $1.9B spending have not been disclosed by the legislative leadership. The largest single revenue source that has been the subject of discussion has been a Personal Income Tax surcharge on taxable income exceeding $100,000.
Tort Reform Lobby Day - April 29th
Staff Contact: Ken Pokalsky
The New Yorkers for Civil Justice Reform, a broad-based coalition dedicated to tort reform, has announced that April 29th will be its Tort Reform Lobby Day. The Business Council is a member of the coalition and will participate in this lobbying event. The day will begin at the Crowne Plaza in Albany at 7a.m. with a continental breakfast. At 8 a.m. leaders of the coalition will discuss the topics, issues and needs encompassing tort reform and "how to be a tort reform advocate". Legislative appointments will commence at 9 a.m. and will continue until 3 p.m. This is an important event designed to help the business community lobby the legislature directly on the need for tort reform. The coalition is calling on all affected constituents doctors, home-builders, roofers, small business owners, insurance agents, farmers, architects and the thousands of other industries and individuals that are hamstrung by New York's inability and unwillingness to institute tort reform. With this issue being championed by many in the Legislature this year, including Senate Majority Leader Bruno and Assembly Minority Leader Nesbitt, momentum for reform needs to be continued and strengthened.
For more information on the event, please contact the New Yorkers for Civil Justice Reform at (518) 436-1072.
Assembly Brownfield Bill
Staff Contact: Ken
The Assembly has introduced its long-awaited proposal on brownfields, A.7507 (DiNapoli). We now have three major proposals on the table, with the Governor's comprehensive superfund/brownfield bill included as part of the Executive Budget (S.1409/A.2109), and the Senate having already introduced and passed S.2935 (Marcellino).
Unfortunately, the only significant provisions common to all three proposals are $18 million in new hazardous waste surcharges targeting the state's industrial sector, and an expansion of the state's superfund program to include so-called hazardous substance sites. All three bills also include versions of federal liability protection for "innocent" third parties, but each proposal includes unique provisions and/or qualifiers.
Other key features of the new Assembly proposal:
- the cleanup goal for all brownfield projects is the "complete and permanent cleanup" of the site that would allow unrestricted use, with no long-term institutional (e.g., deed restrictions) or engineering (e.g., containment) controls.
- while the intended use of a site is one of eight factors to be used in assessing proposed remedies, the bill does not authorize use-based cleanups. The bill does include detailed criteria for assessing the appropriateness of the proposed use of a brownfield site, including "environmental justice" considerations and conformance with newly adopted "land re-use" plans.
- there is limited opportunity to do site-specific cleanups that do not achieve "unrestricted use" levels. However, such cleanups are subject to an assessment of remedial alternatives, require achievement of unrestricted soil levels down to three feet, and require groundwater remediation to achieve drinking water standards.
- the state superfund program would be refinanced through bonds issued by the Environmental Facilities Corporation. Debt service would be paid by newly imposed surcharges, existing hazardous waste fees, and general fund resources. While not specified in the bill, the Assembly is targeting up to $200 million in annual superfund expenditures under this approach.
The Business Council is developing a detailed summary of, and response to, the Assembly proposal. Details will be provided in next week's GAC memo.
Campaign Finance Seminars
Staff Contact: Ken
If you are involved with your company's PAC or other campaign finance activities in New York State, you may be interested in the upcoming campaign finance law seminars being offered by the State Board of Elections. The Board will be holding sessions at thirteen sites statewide between May 19 and June 18. While there is no printed agenda available yet, the Board has said that the half-day seminars are intended to cover a wide range of issues, including contribution limits, reporting requirements, penalties, etc. that are applicable to candidates, candidates' committees and PACs.
You can get more information on these sessions, and register online, at: http://www.elections.state.ny.us/plsql_browser/efs_registration_form
If you have any questions about the training sites or dates, please call the NYS Board of Elections at (518) 474-8200.
New York State Thruway Authority Chairman John L. Buono announced on April 11th that Michael R. Fleischer has been nominated to serve as Executive Director of the NYS Thruway Authority and Canal Corporation. He takes over for former Executive Director John Platt. Mr. Fleischer most recently served as First Deputy Commissioner for the NYS Department of Transportation, where he was directly responsible for the development and implementation of the Department's $1.65 billion highway and bridge program, as well as the Department's $4 billion annual budget. Prior to that, Mr. Fleischer served as Assistant Commissioner for the Department's Office of Government and Public Affairs, in which he was responsible for interaction with the media, elected officials and other external customers. As Executive Director, Mr. Fleischer will oversee the administration and operation of the 641-mile Thruway and the 524-mile NYS Canal System, which are among the nation's largest transportation systems. The Authority is also planning on moving forward with its new six-year Capital Plan starting in 2004. Mr. Fleischer started on April 17, and will serve as Acting Executive Director until he is confirmed by the three-member Thruway Board, which is scheduled to gather at its regular monthly meeting April 30.