Government Affairs Albany UpdateJanuary 28, 2008
- Executive Budget Overview
- Overtime Restriction Bill Reported
- Successful HSC Conference to Build from Canadian-US Border Theme
- Taking Your Business Global: Mark Your June Calendars!
- Chamber Executives Conclude Annual Albany Session with “I Live NY” Focus
- Washington Update
- Energy Package
- Patent Legislation Debate
- House Subcommittee Moves Chemical Plant Security Bill
- Congressman Walsh to Retire
Governor Spitzer's Executive Budget proposal included significant new spending and nearly $2 billion in new revenues, in addition to numerous other proposed statutory and program changes that will impact the state's private sector.
Click here for an overview of key business-related legislative and program changes included in the Fiscal 2009 Executive Budget. These proposals are generally included in the so-called Article VII bills. Most Executive Budget information is available on the Division of Budget's home page; including budget summaries and presentations, appropriation bills, and Article VII bill memos.
Each issue indicates the appropriate Business Council staff member that you may contact for further information.
A.1898-B (Gunther), a bill that would restrict healthcare employers from assigning overtime work to Registered and Licensed Practical Nurses, was reported to the Assembly Codes Committee from the Assembly Labor Committee earlier last week. S.6342 (Morahan) is the companion bill in the Senate.
The bill would only allow overtime assignments beyond the nurse's regular work schedule or beyond eight hours in a day or forty hours in a week if the employee agrees. The restriction would not apply in cases of natural or other disaster.
The Business Council opposes this legislation that has restrictions on an employer's right to assign overtime to employees based on business operational needs.
As new border crossing rules go into effect in less than two weeks on the northern boarder, the Homeland Security Council concluded its annual Conference with multiple sessions focused on the critical importance of the US-Canadian border to economic growth and investment. Over 140 individuals had the opportunity to hear from federal, state and Canadian business and government officials on policy and procurement opportunities and gaps relevant to the Homeland Security sector. The Homeland Security Steering Committee has commenced planning for the Congressional exchange in Washington, DC set for June 18-19.
Peter Cunningham, the Director of Empire State Development's Office of International Development, told The Business Council's Homeland Security Council that ESD's entire international team will be doing a New York “road show” the first week of June to meet with qualified New York firms interested in expanding internationally in Canada, the UK, Mexico, Israel, South Africa, Brazil, Chile, Japan & China. There will be no charge for these partnership matching services from ESD overseas representative, if the New York firm is qualified for export readiness./p>
Chamber executives from the Chamber Alliance of New York State (CANYS) had the opportunity to hear from Silda Wall Spitzer during their annual Winter Leadership Conference. Mrs. Spitzer is chairing the “I Live NY” Task force which is focused on fostering economic growth through the development of strategies which seek to reverse the exodus of young people from New York State. Kenneth Adams, Business Council president & CEO, is a member of the Task Force and is serving on two subcommittees: Marketing of the State's Regions and School to Career Strategies. Mrs. Spitzer spoke of the important role chambers can play in fostering regional cooperation, communication and innovation. More on her remarks can be found here.
Democrats are considering reviving an energy tax package as well as a limited highway infrastructure aid as part of a possible second economic stimulus bill. Given the “short term relief” parameters guiding the economic stimulus bill, it is thought that support for extension of renewable energy production and investment tax credits and highway infrastructure investments are among longer term proposals which could generate bipartisan support. Senate Democrats are also looking at renewing and expanding the expired Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program in any second round stimulus package. Senate Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer said that TAA should be included in a larger bill, along with modernization of unemployment insurance, tax incentives for alternative fuels, infrastructure spending, aid to states and a housing reform bill. Stay tuned
Patent Legislation Debate
Senate leaders are looking to bring to the floor next month a bill that would make sweeping changes to the US patent system, according to industry stakeholders and congressional aides. An amended version of the legislation introduced by Senator Leahy might get a Senate vote followed by a quick House vote on an identical bill, a tactic which would bypass the need for a conference committee. The Coalition for Patent Fairness is quoted as saying the bill will “stimulate American innovation, growth and competitiveness by restoring balance to our patent system.” The measure faces pushback from the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors.
House Subcommittee Moves Chemical Plant Security Bill
A chemical plant security package was approved by a House subcommittee that would expand and make permanent anti-terrorism regulations that Congress authorized last year. Due to expire in 2009, the interim chemical-plant rules require facilities deemed to be high risk to submit vulnerability assessments and site security plans to the Department of Homeland Security for approval. Although crafted as a compromise, the bill has drawn criticism from both environmental groups and the chemical industry.
Congressman Walsh to Retire
Congressman Jim Walsh (R-Syracuse) announced on Thursday he will not seek another term in Congress, concluding a twenty year run. Walsh is a senior member powerful House Appropriations Committee -- and his retirement means the loss of the sole Upstate NY voice on the committee. Four other members of the Appropriations Committee hail from NY: Nita Lowey, Jose Serrano, Maurice Hinchey and Steve Israel.