Government Affairs Albany Update
April 3, 2009

State Budget Wrap-Up

An overview of what's in and what's out of the State Budget has been posted on the Business Council's Final Budget Overview page. Find analysis on the Empire Zone changes; tax and fee changes; contract procurement; transportation; environmental and financial services budgetary issues of interest to New York's businesses. Government Affairs staff are available to answer any questions you may have.

MTA Bailout Plan: Don't Balance The Books On The Backs of Employers

As the Legislature wrapped up a budget with record tax and fee increases impacting all New Yorkers, it turned its attention to the MTA's fiscal woes. With a key component of the Ravitch Commission plan – tolling the East River bridges -- widely reported as no longer under consideration, The Business Council increased its opposition to balancing the books through a payroll excise tax on all employers in the 12-county MTA region. E-advocacy in March generated over 5,000 messages in opposition to a payroll tax sent to legislators in the 12-county MTA taxing-region. With this renewed focus on finding revenues sources to close the MTA budget gap, The Business Council in concert with chambers of commerce across the 12-county region stepped up efforts to oppose a payroll tax as the solution to the MTA's revenue shortfall. E-advocacy efforts started April 1 have generated an additional 5,000 letters in opposition to the payroll tax. Government Affairs staff will continue to meet with legislators to advocate for a more balanced approach in resolving the MTA's financial woes.

Business Council Submits Comments on Plant Closing/Mass Layoff Rule Proposal

The Business Council has submitted a formal response to the emergency/proposed WARN rulemaking issued by the state DOL in the February 18, 2009 NYS Register. Among the concerns raised by The Business Council were provisions which went beyond the scope of the state statute and federal regulations related to the release of employees' names in a WARN notice and, which the draft regulations indicate is not considered confidential information. Other comments focused on the prohibition on the use of email to meet certain compliance mandates found within the state statute; the use of certain terms; and alignment with the federal regulations. Visit the Labor/Human Resources page to see the state DOL rule proposal, summary and The Business Council's response. In a meeting with NYSDOL Minnick Counsel's Office, staff indicated their desire to issue final regulations within the next four weeks.

State Energy Planning Board Issues Interim Report

On March 31, The Energy Coordinating Working Group (ECWG) of the New York State Energy Planning Board issued an Interim Report, which provides a set of preliminary findings that have emerged from the ECWG's work on the 2009 State Energy Plan to date. The report is intended to provide a context and discussion of the issues that the 2009 State Energy Plan must address to meet the State's future energy needs, and is available at the New York State Energy Plan website. The board is planning to release a draft report in July, followed by six public hearings. The final report will be issued in October. The board will accept public comments on the interim report through May 15th.