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Government Affairs Albany Update - June 27, 2003

Toxic Substances Record Keeping Bill Passes Both Houses

S.2452 (Onorato) / A.8014 (Nolan) passed both houses in the closing days of session. This legislation would require that employers keep a record of all employees that handle toxic substances. The Business Council is vehemently opposed to this legislation because it is not only unduly burdensome to employers, but because it is pre-empted by Federal Occupational Safety and Health Regulations. Section 1902.1(a) of the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Regulations pre-empts state legislation except where there is a state plan. New York is not a state plan state. A state plan state is one where the state has applied, been subject to strict review, and approved by the federal government as a state plan state.

This legislation if enacted would require that every employee that handles toxic and hazardous substances that appear in 1910.1000 Tables Z1, Z2, and Z3 be recorded. Under the provisions of this bill every person, for example that handles a toner cartridge for their copiers would have to be recorded and kept for forty years.

Due to the fact that this legislation is pre-empted by federal OSHA regulations, New York does not have the authority to implement this legislation. The Business Council is working to ensure that this bill is vetoed by Governor Pataki. Our memo in opposition.

Divisible Load and Trucking Permits

Divisible load permits: The Assembly adjourned without passing a bill, S.2974A (Kuhl) / A.677-A (Gantt), that would have increased, from 17,000 to 25,000, the number of special permits available for trucks carrying weight in excess of what is normally allowed on state highways. The Senate had passed the bill but the Assembly adjourned with the bill still pending in its Codes Committee. The bill, which The Council supports, is needed for the construction, logging, agriculture, and other shipping industries that rely on the trucking of heavy loads.

Oversize and Special Hauling Permits: On June 19th representatives from the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT), the Governor's Office of Regulatory Reform (GORR), the New York State Motor Truck Association, The Business Council and dozens of industry and trucking companies met in Albany to discuss the issue of permits. The meeting lasted about 3 hours. The participants discussed the need for uniformity in the issuance of permits, more communication between the DOT and permit seekers, a better understanding of the upcoming switch to computerization and the need for a faster process. More follow up is needed and The Business Council will continue to work with DOT, GORR and the trucking industry to seek common ground.

Vicarious Liability Not Passed

Vicarious liability forces companies that lease cars to assume liability for unlimited monetary damages if the cars are in accidents, even if the company is in no way at fault. This session a series of bill were introduced that would have addressed the issue of vicarious liability in car leasing. The Business Council and its car manufacturing/leasing members favor repeal of the state's unique "vicarious liability" law or a compromise that would ease leasing companies' liability burden. The Senate has voted to repeal vicarious liability under S.397-A (Johnson) but the Assembly same as version (A.1042 by Canestrari) was not passed. Another bill that would have addressed rental cars (A.5419 / S.2477) was not passed by either house. In the Senate, S.5642 (Johnson), was introduced in that last week of session. The bill contained the same language passed by the State of Connecticut providing for certain insurance liability limits. It was not passed and it also lacked an Assembly companion.