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Government Affairs Albany Update

June 13, 2008

Workers' Comp Treatment Guidelines Implementation

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.

Senate Brownfield Legislation

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:

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.

Council Urges Governor and Legislators to “Fix Wicks”

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 and State DOT Release Draft Statewide Trucking Regulations

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.

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