Government Affairs Albany UpdateMay 16, 2008
- NYC Council Overrides Mayor's Veto of E-Waste Bill
- Council Lobbies Against Custom Fabrication/Prevailing Wage Bill
- Governor Signs LICONY Priority Legislation
- Scaffold Law Strikes Again!
- Governor Paterson Signs Executive Order on State Green Procurement
- Washington Update
The New York City Council this week overrode the Mayor's veto of a bill that would require electronic manufacturers to meet certain benchmarks in recycling their discarded electronics products. The bill-introductory number 729- would require electronics manufacturers to recycle a set amount of their New York City waste or face fines. If the law takes effect, starting in 2012 the manufacturers would have to recycle 25% of their products sold in the city or pay $50,000 for every percentage point they miss the target. The administration has argued that this bill would unfairly penalize businesses if they're customers don't recycle
In March the council and the mayor agreed on a bill-Introductory number 728-to establish a recycling program for old televisions and computers.
The State Assembly and State Senate are currently negotiating a statewide E-waste bill.
The Business Council supports an approach that would create a partnership between manufacturers, municipalities, and for-profit and not-for-profit organizations to handle collection and transportation of electronic equipment. The burden of E-waste collection should not be placed solely on the manufacturers.
The Business Council and representatives of the General Building Contractors, Associated General Contractors of America , NYS Association of Town Superintendents of Highways, NY Roadway Improvement Coalition, Peckham Industries and other groups are lobbying against legislation that would mandate prevailing wages for public works projects utilizing off-site custom fabrication.
With a faltering economy, declining tax base, and soaring energy prices the legislation (S.6797 Marcellino/A.6598 John) would have dire consequences for taxpayers by significantly increasing the cost of public works projects. We also see the legislation as counter productive to Governor Paterson's efforts to curtail excessive government spending.
The Business Council and the construction industry representatives voiced opposition to Senators Marcellino, Libous, Robach and Little. Additional meetings are scheduled with the other Senate sponsors of the bill.
Governor Paterson signed into law two bills strongly supported by The Business Council and Life Insurance Council of New York. Chapter 60 increases the aggregate amount of foreign investments for New York life insurers from nine percent to 16 percent. Chapter 72 makes permanent limitations on accumulation of surplus by certain domestic life insurance companies. In support letters sent to the Governor, Council President Kenneth Adams urged approval to help New York retain its status as the financial capital of the world.
To view the letters, click on these links:
Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York says that a recent State Court of Appeals decision against a building owner illustrates the need for immediate reform of New York 's notorious Scaffold Law.
In Santass v. Consolidated Investing Company , a building tenant, without the knowledge or consent of the building owner, hired a contractor to install an air conditioning unit. The contractor was nearly killed when the inadequate equipment he was using failed and caused the air conditioner to plummet to the ground. A key fact in this case is that the lease required the tenant to obtain the landlord's consent, which the tenant failed to do.
The Court of Appeals, in a 5-2 split decision, concluded "that a property owner is liable for a violation of Labor Law § 240 (1) that proximately caused injury to a worker even though a tenant of the building contracted for the work without the owner's knowledge." The Court also said that "we determined that it was for the Legislature, not this Court, to carve out exceptions to the broad reach of owner liability under section 240 (1)."
- The Court of Appeals Decision is available at www.nylawsuitreform.org/
- The link for NYTRN web site is here.
Gov. David Paterson signed an Executive Order establishing a New York State "Green Procurement and Agency Sustainability Program," to promote policies within state agencies and authorities that reduces the consumption of materials and energy and reduces potential impacts on public health and the environment. State agencies will be required to purchase environmentally friendly commodities, services and technology and develop sustainability and stewardship programs. The Executive Order is available here.
The Executive Order will achieve its goals through three primary initiatives:
- An interagency committee to ensure that state agencies have direction in carrying out appropriate purchasing, planning in contracting;
- Environmentally-friendly agency programs and policies that promote recycling reduction of toxic waste, and increasing energy efficiency; and
- Training State employees to pursue their duties in a manner which is mindful of their impact on the environment.
The Business Council will seek to work with the Governor's office to facilitate a green procurement program that is beneficial to state agencies and local businesses.
- EPA: "Cap And Trade" Still On
US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) testified earlier this week before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that it has no intention of backing off its cap-and-trade plan for limiting emissions from coal power plants, despite a federal appeals court decision in February rejecting it as a violation of the Clean Air Act. Agency officials will keep pushing for a rehearing of the case because they disagree with the ruling and remain convinced of the program's validity. It would allow utilities to buy and sell emission credits and is designed to cut mercury released by 70 percent.
- Tax Extenders Bill Marked-Up in House
House Ways & Means Committee marked up a package of tax break extensions this week, including energy incentives for wind, solar, geothermal, and other alternative sources. The "Energy and Tax Extenders Act of 2008" is anticipated to be brought to the floor next week. The Senate Finance Committee has not scheduled a markup of their tax extender legislation because they have not yet settled on the necessary offsets for at least the non- alternative minimum tax portion of the bill.