Government Affairs Albany UpdateMarch 11, 2005
The federal Veterans Benefits Improvement Act of 2004, signed by President Bush on December 10, 2004, requires employers to provide employees with notice of their rights, benefits and obligations under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).
The U.S. Department of Labor has devised a new poster to meet this obligation. Click here to view the poster in pdf format.
Governor Pataki announced his “Comprehensive Government Reform” package this week, which included amendments to the state's Finance Law, Lobbying Act, Ethics law. Highlights include the following:
Procurement Lobbying Restrictions:
- generally prohibit lobbying related to state procurement contracts. Potential contractors would largely be restricted to contacting designated agency staff with regard to procurement activities. Exemptions would apply to contacts related to the technical aspects of bids and contracts.
- New penalties would include five year debarment from state contracts for intentional violations.
Lobbying Act amendments:
- prohibit the offering of “gifts” to public officials by registered lobbyists and so-called "disqualified sources" (persons/businesses regulated by the state, involved in litigation with the state, etc.)
- expand the Lobbying Act to cover procurement lobbying. Persons engaged in permissible procurement lobbying, and lobbying on Executive Orders and Tribal-State agreements, will be subject to registration, reporting and other requirements of the lobbying. Importantly, the Governor's proposal does not extend to the implementation of state and local regulations, as does the Assembly legislastion (A.9-A) approved earlier this week. The Governor's bill also does not change the $2,000 compensation threshold for Lobby Act applicability.
- preclude contingent retainers for lobbying activities involving local governments.
- subject the Lobbying Commission to the State Administration and Procedure Act and Civil Rights Law provisions related to due process and privacy protection.
Ethics Law amendments:
- allows for enforcement of the Ethics Law against persons who have left state service for violations that occurred during a person's state service.
These bills have not yet been introduced in the state legislature, and are not yet available electronically. However, we have received hard copies from the Governor's office.
The State Education Department recently released the 2004 school report cards. Summary data related to the results for students who entered 9th grade in 2000 is also available, as well as a link to a new web site for parents which is related to commonly asked questions about state assessments and Regents exams. Click here for more information.