Government Affairs Albany Update
August 13, 2009
The Draft 2009 State Energy Plan is now available for public review and comment. This package also includes additional energy sector-specific assessments, and issue briefs on topics such as energy costs/economic development and environmental justice. The State will be holding nine public hearings, starting on August 18 in Canton, and will have a 60 day public comment period beginning on that date. The hearing schedule is included with the Energy Plan material cited above.
The plan's emphasis is on promoting energy efficiency and GHG emission reductions (including the Governor's recently announced “80 by 50” Executive Order), developing a “clean energy economy,” and promoting energy independence through further development of in-state sources including renewables and other distributed generation, Marcellus Shale and additional nuclear capacity.
While it recognizes energy costs as a significant economic issue, the plan's most significant cost reduction component is the reliance on increased efficiency to produce customer-specific and system-wide cost benefits. On the other hand, it recommends that customer financed programs such as EESP and RPS be expanded and/or extended.
The plan touches on a wide range of issues of interest to Business Council members, including adoption of a new siting law, carbon capture/sequestration legislation, extension of economic development power programs, expanded transmission capacity, deployment of “smart grid” technology and others.
The Business Council will be submitting testimony, and participating in the September 15 hearing.
We are seeking member input, and look forward to receiving your comments.
The New York State Commission on Public Integrity is holding a hearing on its proposed amendments to the state Lobbying Act. They will be holding a public hearing in Albany on Tuesday, September 8, 2009, at the Legislative Office Building, Meeting Room B, beginning at 1 p.m. Their legislative proposals, and details on the public hearing, are available here.
- Proposal 1 would change the definition of “lobbying” to be “any attempt to influence any act or decision made by a public official.” According to the Commission proposal, this would extend the Act to cover activities such as pension fund investments, discussions on draft legislation and additional procurements (under $15,000). However, it would retain the seventeen specific categories of exempt activities in current law. It would also repeal the so-called “restricted period” limiting contacts with public offices regarding government procurement.
- Proposal 2 expands the definition of reportable lobby expenses to include all campaign contributions by registered clients and lobbyists.
- Proposal 3 eliminates most current exemptions from the prohibition on gifts from lobbyists and clients to public officials, including complementary attendance at “widely attended and officially related” events and “food and beverages of nominal value.”
- Proposal 4 establishes civil penalties of up to $10,000 for lobbyists and clients that fail to cooperate with Commission requests for random audits.
- Proposal 5 expands the prohibition on contingent contracts to reflect the proposed broadening of the definition of “lobbying,” and establishes civil penalties of up to the greater of $50,000 or five times the value of the contract.
- Proposal 6 requires the Commission and registered clients and lobbyists to retain records for “three biennial filing periods.”
- Proposal 7 changes the compensation threshold for registration to $10,000 in annual combined reportable lobbying compensation and expenses.
The Business Council will be submitting comments on these proposals, and will be testifying at the September 8 hearing. Please contact us for information or to provide input on these proposals.
Last Friday, Governor Paterson issued Executive Order 25 which creates a Governor's regulatory review committee, and a review process to evaluate existing state regulation in order to “reduce unnecessary burdens, costs and inefficiencies” and to help improve the state's economic climate. This effort will initially focus on the Departments of Agriculture & Markets; Environmental Conservation; Health; Labor; State and Tax & Finance, with additional agencies added within six months. These participating agencies are directed to invite public comment on unnecessary, duplicative and/or burdensome regulations, and provide a 60 day period for public input. Agencies are to issue a report on recommended changes for between two and ten especially problematic rules.
This process will be overseen by a five person review committee comprised of the Secretary and Counsel to the Governor (Larry Schwartz and Peter Kiernan, respectively); the Director of State Operations (currently Dennis Whalen); the Director of the Governor's Office of Regulatory Reform (Amelia Stern, acting director); and the Director of the Division of Budget (Robert Megna).