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Government Affairs Albany Update

May 21, 2004

There are three proposals currently before the state legislature related to benefits increases and reform measures. The legislative session is scheduled to end in June and we expect that workers' compensation may be a post budget issue. We would like to educate you of the three different proposals that are being considered. A detailed side by side comparison of the three bills.

The Occupational Safety and Health section of the meeting will provide an update on licensing of safety and health professionals, mold, safety and training legislation. Code rules 56 (Asbestos) and 59 (Workplace Safety and Loss Prevention Program) will also be addressed, along with a component on what is taking place regarding safety and health at the state and federal levels.

Budget Reform Package

The legislature introduced comprehensive budget reform legislation this week. First announced on March 31, this package includes:

Although jointly announced by Majority Leader Bruno and Speaker Silver, it is unclear whether both measures will be acted upon this session. However, the legislature is likely to pass S.7317/A.11231 this session, since it would require approval by two successive legislatures before its constitutional changes can be presented to the voters.

Real Property Transfer Taxes

The Business Council is opposing legislation, now under consideration by the full Senate, that would allow towns to adopt real property transfer taxes to fund local open space projects. These taxes could be up to 2%, and would apply to residential, commercial and industrial properties. The bill establishes an exemption equal to the median residential property value in the town, which would provide limited relief for commercial and industrial property transfers. We see this bill as having a particularly onerous impact downstate, where the high cost of housing is already making it difficult (and more expensive) for businesses to recruit new skilled employees. In addition, it would add to existing state, county and city-level real property transfer taxes already imposed on residential, commerical and industrial properties. The bill is S.6949-A (Marcellino)/A.10053 (DiNapoli). It was moved to the Senate Calendar this week, the Assembly has not yet moved it out of its Environmental Conservation committee. Our memo in opposition S.6949-A.