Government Affairs Albany UpdateJune 13, 2008
- Workers' Comp Treatment Guidelines Implementation
- Senate Brownfield Legislation
- Council Urges Governor and Legislators to “Fix Wicks”
- Governor and State DOT Release Draft Statewide Trucking Regulations
This week, Superintendent of Insurance Eric Dinallo sent the Workers' Compensation Board a proposed set of “Implementation and Process Standards” for its previously proposed medical treatment guidelines. (Last December, the Department provided the board with proposed treatment guidelines for lower back, cervical spine, shoulder and knee injuries.) These Standards are intended to provide the framework for application of treatment guidelines for medical services provided to workers' compensation claimants. The Standards were developed through the Department's Medical Guidelines Advisory Committee, which includes three Business Council representatives, and are intended to enable the benefits from the Guidelines to be realized in practice and to accelerate delivery of quality medical services and reduce disputes and costs.
We have posted the transmission letter and the proposed Standards on our web site; they are available here. It is now up to the Workers' Compensation Board to move forward with the development of regulations to implement the proposed treatment guidelines. No specific schedule for implementation has yet been proposed by the Board.
The Administration and legislature continue to consider proposals to clarify brownfield program eligibility standards, and modify brownfield tax credits, in face of concerns about rising costs of cleanup and redevelopment incentives.
The Senate has introduced a new proposal, S.8480 (Marcellino) that addresses some of The Business Council's most significant concerns regarding eligibility standards, and proposes limited modifications to brownfield tax credits. Key provisions include:
- Amends the definition of a brownfield site to include one whose contamination was caused by “historic fill.”
- Maintains current cleanup program and tax credit eligibility for “participants,” as defined in law (an entity with legal liability for a contaminant, excluding a Class 2 site responsible party, and a party already subject to a order for a site).
- Imposes a limited cap on redevelopment credits, applicable only for projects where 25 percent of the redevelopment expenses are for condominiums. In such cases, the redevelopment tax credit is capped at ten times the site credit.
- Increases the baseline site preparation and tangible property investment credit (under Article 9-A Corporate Franchise Tax) to 14 percent from 12 percent; makes several other minor modifications to tax credit provisions.
- Allows “volunteers” to apply sites that are subject to enforcement action under the state's solid/hazardous waste and petroleum laws (other than state superfund Class 2 sites).
- Allows municipalities to implement local brownfield programs, subject to approval by the Department of Environmental Conservation. Applicants receiving locally issued certificates of completion would be eligible for state liability protection, but not state tax credits. Such applicants would have to request a state certificate to be eligible for tax credits. To be eligible for state tax credits, the DEC will have to find that the cleanup would have met the requirements of the state brownfield program, and that the site is either in an Empire Zone, a brownfield opportunity area, or a federal enterprise zone.
- Imposes responsibility on the state for mitigation of off-site vapor intrusion at sites being remediated by a volunteer.
- Allows tax credit for tangible property put into service prior to issuance of a certificate of completion, if the site is certified safe for occupancy.
- Adopts the “Uniform Environmental Covenant Act” and repeal existing site use covenant language.
- Requires the Department of Taxation and Finance to issue an annual report on credits granted, claimed and earned; requires taxpayers to do additional reporting to Tax and Finance on brownfield tax credits; and requires DEC to issue an annual brownfield program report.
The Administration and both houses of the legislature now each have competing brownfield program “reform” packages. The Business Council continues to push for clearer eligibility standards, broad eligibility for contaminated sites, and maintenance of “as of right” tax credits for most brownfield redevelopment projects.
At an Albany press conference this week, The Business Council, Associated Builders and Contractors, Northeastern Subcontractors Association, NY Statewide Alliance of Minority and Women Business Enterprise and several Chambers of Commerce urged the Governor and Legislators to take action on S.8231/A.11397, which would repeal the onerous Project Labor Agreement (PLA) requirement in the new Wicks Law. (Chapter 57, Laws of 2008)
Business Council President & CEO Kenneth Adams, said, “At a time when everyone is focused on the high cost of government, it is amazing that the State would add new burdens for small contractors and increase costs for taxpayers. We appreciate Senator Winner and Assemblyman Schimminger for recognizing this problem and introducing legislation to correct it.”
Under the guise of reform, the PLA provisions contained in the new Wicks Law will have a devastating impact on the New York State economy by significantly driving up construction costs on taxpayer financed public works projects. Moreover, these provisions will exclude significant employment opportunities for workers in upstate New York and have a discriminatory impact on minority and women owned businesses.
Governor David A. Paterson and New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) Commissioner Astrid C. Glynn have announced a draft statewide regulation aimed at reducing large truck traffic on many state roads across New York. The Business Council and New York Motor Truck Association are vetting the draft regulations to assess the economic impact on the trucking industry, taxpayers and municipalities.
At issue is the definition and regulation of “large trucks” hauling solid waste and other materials on local roads in Central New York and the Finger Lakes. Currently, trucks legally utilize local roadways due to soaring diesel gasoline prices and the recent NYS Thruway toll hike.