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Government Affairs Albany Update

January 14, 2005

Assembly Majority and Minority Announce Committee Appointments

The Assembly Majority (Democrats) and Assembly Minority (Republicans) have announced their Committee assignments for 2005.

Assembly Empire Zone Proposal

The Assembly has re-introduced their '04 Empire Zone reform package as A.6 (Silver et al). This bill is basically the same as A.9021 from last session. Key "reforms" include: limiting each Empire Zone to no more than three distinct contiguous areas; changing the basic zone eligibility criteria to a county-wide job growth rate at least 2 percent below the state rate, measured over a three year period; naming the Governor, Majority Leader and Speaker to a new Empire Zone Control Board whose unanimous vote would be required to designate zones and approve zone boundaries; establish new procedures that woudl mandate decertification QEZE businesses if they fail to meet zone employment tests in any given year; and new QEZE criteria that, among other things, would require businesses to operate "in the spirit of the empire zone program." The Business Council continues to oppose this counterproductive proposal, and we expect to see other zone reform bills introduced in the Assembly in the coming weeks.

First Procurement Lobbying Proposal of 2005

The Assembly has also re-introduced last year's broad public authority reform bill – A.3 (Brodsky et al) – which is a re-make of A.9010 from last session. Among its provisions is the regulation of procurement lobbying as it applies to public authorities. Generally, it would subject authority-related procurement lobbying to the state Lobbying Act, requiring such clients and lobbyists to register with the state, and file periodic reports. Similar registrations would also have to be filed with any authority that would be subject to the client's and/or lobbyist's efforts. All bids would have to identify the individuals authorized to "lobby" on behalf of that bidder. The bill would also prohibit contingency contracts for authority-related procurement lobbying.

Operation SPUR

Governor Pataki has announced additional details of his upstate redevelopment initiative first announced in the State of the State message. Dubbed "Operation Spur" (Strategic Partnerships for Upstate Resurgence), it includes a mixture of targeted and statewide initiatives. Several of the reform proposals – including use of "single sales factor" apportionment for corporate tax allocation purposes, exemption from the alternative minimum tax, wage tax credits for new job creation, and workers' compensation cost-reduction assistances, and capital projects grants – would be tied to job growth or investments within designated SPUR communities. The program also includes a new refundable tax credit for businesses that are affiliated with the state's Centers for Excellence, and an expansion of the Empire Zone program to include new "agribusiness opportunity zones." While specific criteria for such communities was not provided, the Governor said that these would be areas with "underperforming" population and job growth, and/or areas that have traditionally relied on farming and agribusiness sectors. In addition, the proposal includes statewide proposals for a five year extension of the Empire Zones program and a one year extension of the Power for Jobs program.