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Government Affairs Albany Update

April 23, 2004

Outsourcing/Offshoring Legislation

Staff Contact: Ken Pokalsky
Two previously announced outsourcing bills were introduced this week, as the Senate ended its period for unlimited introduction of bills. These include:

Pension Fund Investments - The most significant new bill (S.6872/Lavalle) would prohibit investments by the state's $100 billion common retirement fund in the "stocks, securities or other obligations" of any company which outsources jobs, and requires the fund to divest any such investments " in a fiscally prudent manner." The bill was introduced with three co-sponsors: Larkin, Marchi and Velella.

The bill defines outsourcing as "to seek resources outside the United States to save more [sic] and/or to exploit the skills of another entity." Since the meaning of this legislative language is unclear at best, its difficult to say exactly who would be affected by this proposal. However, the sponsor's memo provides a more recognized definition of outsourcing (work done for a company by another company or people other than the original company's employees), and states that the legislative intent is to prohibit investments in businesses that outsource jobs overseas.

Obviously, this bill would have a major impact on the investment options available to the Common Retirement Fund, and would likely affect many Business Council members. For example, one analysis shows that this bill would preclude the state retirement fund from investing in at least 23 of the 30 stocks tracked in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. We have requested a meeting with the Senate sponsor, and also have asked the State Comptroller for comments.

Senate Democrats "Omnibus" Bill - Legislation first announced by Senate Democrats at a March 3 press conference has finally been introduced (S.6935/Paterson). The bill generally tracks the provisions of their earlier press release. Key provisions include the following:

Offshoring Legislation Chart

Staff Contact: Ken Pokalsky
The following chart illustrates the various offshoring/outsourcing bills introduced in the NYS legislature to date, and includes a brief summary, current status and Business Council position.

Offshoring Table

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New York's Brownfield Cleanup Program

Staff Contact: Ken Pokalsky
We were asked to forward this information to our members by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. This provides more complete information on the announcement included in last week's GAC update.

You Are Invited to Public Meetings to Learn About:
New York's Brownfield Cleanup Program

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will conduct public information meetings in cooperation with the Department of Taxation and Finance (TAX) and Department of Health (DOH) during May and June regarding the new Brownfield Cleanup Program (BCP), created by the Superfund/Brownfield Law adopted in 2003. See below for the schedule of the public meetings.

Dates and locations for both public meetings are as follows:

May 12, 2004: Rochester
Monroe Community College, Brighton Campus, 1000 E. Henrietta Road , Campus Center Monroe A&B

May 19, 2004: Albany
Empire State Plaza, Concourse Level, Meeting Room 2

June 8, 2004: NYC
The Graduate Center, CUNY, Recital Hall, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York

A brief overview on how agencies are considering developing soil cleanup objectives will be presented at 9:00 a.m. and repeated at 10:15 a.m. Three topic-focused availability areas, allowing participants to ask agency technical staff additional questions and seek clarification will follow each presentation.

In the afternoon from 12:30 p.m.- 4:30 p.m., DEC will conduct a public information meeting that focuses on all aspects of the Brownfield Cleanup Program. Individuals may be interested in the morning session on soil cleanup objectives, the afternoon Brownfield Cleanup Program Informational meeting, or both.

Please check the DEC web site at: www.dec.state.ny.us/website/der/bfield/index.html#meet
for up-to-date information about these meetings.

Internet Access Tax Legislation Pending

A bill which would allow state and local governments to impose billions of dollars of taxes on Internet access is now pending before the U.S. Senate. The bill, S.2084 (Alexander/Carper), would allow states to tax the Internet "backbone" everything but the last mile to the consumer from the Internet. Because the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will not be able to explicitly pass through the tax to consumers when they purchase high speed transmission, the ISP will be forced to absorb the tax or raise the price charged for Internet access service.

Congress initially enacted the Internet Tax Freedom Act in 1998, and voted to extend it in 2001. This Act prohibited states and localities from imposing taxes on Internet access. Senator Schumer voted for this measure, Senator Clinton voted against it. This moratorium expired at the end of October, 2003.

In September, 2003, the Internet Tax Non-Discrimination Act passed the House with broad bi-partisan support. This legislation would reinstate the federal moratorium against Internet access taxes, as well as "multiple and discriminatory" taxes targeting Internet commerce, and make them permanent and national in scope. The Act would ensure technological neutrality, so that consumers would be protected by the federal moratorium no matter what technology they use to access the Internet. The Senate bill, S.150, has been referred to the Senate with the bi-partisan approval of the Commerce and Finance Committees.

We would urge you to contact Senators Clinton and Schumer to urge them to vote against S.2084 and in favor of S.150. They can be reached via email through the main Senate web site at www.senate.gov.

They can also be reached by phone:
Senator Clinton (202)224-4451
Senator Schumer (202)224-0420.

Governor's Program Bill on Workers' Compensation Introduced

The Governor has introduced his reform package on workers' compensation. The bill (S.6841/A.10975) has been introduced in both the Senate and the Assembly. The Senate version is being sponsored by the Committee on Rules and in the Assembly by the Committee on Rules at the request of Assemblywoman John.

Assemblywoman John introduced this bill in an effort to spur negotiations on this important issue. While she is also carrying the AFL-CIO bill, Assemblywoman John indicated in a meeting with The Business Council earlier this week, that she would like to see something done on this issue this session.

This bill provides a balanced approach by placing durational limits on permanent partial disabilities while at the same time raising the maximum benefits for injured claimants. The bill is expected to save the business community over 15 percent in workers' compensation costs.

Click here to view The Business Council's side by side comparison of the three bills currently in play