Government Affairs Albany UpdateMarch 4, 2005
At the 2005 session's first Senate Labor Committee meeting on February 15th, Dennis Hughes, President of the NYS AFL-CIO reviewed his organization's priorities with the members of the committee. After workers' comp benefit increase, number two on his list was paid family leave "...using the existing system of disability insurance..." He also argued that this would be a "...low cost benefit..."
AFL sponsored family leave legislation has been introduced in both houses. S.1501 (Morahan)/A.1301 (Nolan) were both introduced in January and referred to their respective Labor Committees.
The Business Council has filed comments with the Public Service Commission (PSC) in the matter of the System Benefits Charge III (SBC) proceeding. In 1998 the SBC was implemented to provide funding for energy efficiency programs and to spur the development of renewable energy sources. The program is currently funded in the amount of $150 million annually through a surcharge on customer's electricity bills. The program sunsets in June, 2006. The PSC solicited comments as to the continuation and/or expansion of the program. The Business Council's comments are summarized as follows:
- We strongly oppose any increase in the program's funding, and ideally would like to see the program eliminated.
- TBC recommends that the state consider subsidizing energy efficiency programs thru tax credits, rather than surcharges.
- If the PSC insists on keeping the program in some form, we would like to see the surcharge reduced for all customers, and eliminated entirely for NYPA customers and those receiving flex rates from utilities (unless they choose to opt into the program voluntarily).
- We urge the Commission to dismiss outright any suggestions to broaden the SBC in its applicability (i.e., expanding the surcharge to natural gas).
Click Here to view the filing notice.
The first major "procurement lobbying" proposal of the year is on the Assembly Calendar for next week. In part, A.9-C (Silver) would extend the state Lobbying Act to cover lobbying activities related to state and local procurement activities; and largely prohibit "lobbying" contacts during the period between the issuance of a request for proposal or bids and the tentative award of the contract. It contains several specific exemptions for post-award discussions between bidders and agencies. It would also extend the Lobbying Act to cover activities related to the "implementation of regulations" at the state and local level, governmental decisions related to tribal-state compacts, and local rate-making activities. Importantly, the amended version of the bill includes an exemption for activities directly related to permit applications. It also includes the Lobbying Act's applicability threshold to $5,000 of compensation for lobbying activities. The Business Council has significant concerns regarding this proposal. Specifically, we believe the procurement lobbying provisions and the provisions related to rule "implementation" are excessively broad in scope.
We would appreciate any additional comments on this legislation from GAC members.