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Government Affairs Albany Update

January 11, 2008

Healthcare Budget Presentation at Next Business Council Healthcare & Health Insurance Committee Meeting

Dennis Whalen, Governor Spitzer's Deputy Secretary for Health and Human Services, will make a presentation on the 2008-2009 Executive Budget at the next meeting of The Business Council's Healthcare & Health Insurance Committee. The meeting is scheduled for Thursday, February 7th from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon at The Business Council in Albany. The Executive Budget will be released on January 22nd. All Business Council members are welcome to attend.

Looking Back at 2007: Governor Spitzer's Report to the People of NYS

Simultaneous with his delivery of the State of the State, Governor Spitzer issued his first public agency accountability report, noting that “the leaders appointed to our state agencies regularly report to me on what they are doing. That is the very basic level on which I judge their work and on which the public can judge mine.” Beyond the headlines and accomplishments referenced in his State of the State, the 266 page document highlights, agency by agency, self-reported accomplishments. Documented are a number of pro-business actions taken by various public agencies such as efforts to streamline the procurement process and increased availability and use of electronic filing for a variety of purposes. Other accomplishments cited by agencies include aggressive and increased enforcement activities as well as efforts regulated to regulatory reform. The entire document can be found at: http://www.ny.gov/governor/press/2007ReportToThePeople.pdf.

Council President Kenneth Adams to Participate at State Commission to Modernize the Regulation of Financial Services Meeting

Business Council President Kenneth Adams will participate at the first meeting of The New York State Commission to Modernize the Regulation of Financial Services on Friday, January 18th.

The Commission agenda includes a welcome by Governor Eliot Spitzer; review of the work plan by Executive Director Scott Rothstein; comments by Hector Sants, CEO of the United Kingdom Financial Services Authority; discussion by Insurance Superintendent Eric Dinallo about principals-based regulation; and an open forum for commission members.

Mr. Sants will provide an overview of the FSA's role in rule-making; investigatory and enforcement powers; and principles of good regulation. The FSA has three strategic goals: promoting efficient, orderly and fair markets; helping retail consumers achieve a fair deal; and improving business capability and effectiveness.

In the months leading to the Commission's interim and final reports, The Business Council will have stakeholder meetings to discuss the shift towards principles-based regulation and input for the Commission.

Washington Update

Trade issues have emerged as a key policy priority for the Consumer Electronics Association as they seek to reduce tariffs on electronic and information technology products. Trade Representative Schwab appeared by teleconference on Monday in conjunction with the annual CEA electronics show in Las Vegas. The Consumer Electronics Association has allied with the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America to urge Congress to approve pending trade deals pending with Columbia, South Korea and Panama. BCNYS President Kenneth Adams added BCNYS support for passage of the Korea FTA in a December 5, 2007, letter to key members of the NY Congressional delegation.

The US Chamber of Commerce outlined its legislative goals for 2008 signaling that some business-related issues – such as cracking down on intellectual property theft and FAA reauthorization – are doable even in an election year. While some issues have little resonance with a Democratic-controlled Congress (lower corporate taxes, fewer business regulations), the group indicated they could find common ground with Democrats on issues such as scaled-down immigration bills, reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, and health-technology issues.

Lawmakers will begin mapping out the next surface transportation reauthorization bill scheduled for 2009. The future of the gas tax is expected to be discussed next week when a 12 member public-private panel led by Transportation Secretary Peters will release recommendations on how to revamp transportation financing and infrastructure over the next three decades. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is holding a January 17th hearing on the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission's recommendations, which will be released January 15th. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee are expected to follow suit with a hearing on the recommendations the following week.

Finally, the US Chamber of Commerce convened a nationwide conference call with over 300 participants on its “Let's Rebuild America” initiative. The initiative, which was developed with the support of many national stakeholders, seeks to establish “infrastructure” as a core economic growth and vitality issue and to create a climate within which leaders will commit to an “infrastructure” program. The “Let's Rebuild America” initiative includes infrastructure policy and investments within transportation, telecommunications/broadband and energy (transmission corridors, refineries and pipelines). The US Chamber will be following up their conference call with events in all regions of the country to get business and leaders energized around infrastructure priorities.