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Government Affairs Albany Update
September 25, 2009

Economic Development Power Hearing

The Business Council urged the legislature to adopt a long term replacement program for Power for Jobs, Economic Development Power, and their related energy discount programs, in testimony given this week to a joint hearing of the Senate and Assembly Energy, Economic Development and Corporations Committees, held in Niagara Falls. The Council supports an allocation-based incentive program that redeploys NYPA “rural and domestic” hydropower to economic development purposes.

The legislature has also scheduled a business roundtable discussion for Thursday, October 15 in Syracuse, and a second hearing November 18 in Albany.

Adoption of a long term PfJ/EDP replacement program will be one of our economic development priorities for 2010.

Final Workplace Safety & Loss Prevention Regulations Issued

The New York State Department of Labor has issued final regulations implementing the process by which employers can access credits on their workers' compensation premiums for specific workplace safety and return to work programs. The 2007 legislative reform package authorized this incentive program for certain categories of employers; the final regulations provide the minimum program requirements employers must meet to be eligible to receive the credit on their premiums. The Insurance Department is authorized to set the credit thresholds relative to these safety and loss programs; those credit thresholds were proposed earlier this year, and are expected to be finalized shortly.

New Federal GHG Reporting Mandate

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has adopted a national greenhouse gas emissions reporting system, that will take effect January 1, 2010.

Under this rule, fossil fuel suppliers; manufacturers of industrial greenhouse gases; manufacturers of vehicles and engines; and facilities that emit 25,000 metric tons or more per year of GHGs are required to submit annual reports to EPA. The gases covered by the proposed rule are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFC), perfluorocarbons (PFC), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), and other fluorinated gases including nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) and hydrofluorinated ethers (HFE).

This new program will cover approximately 85 percent of the nation's GHG emissions and apply to about 10,000 facilities nationwide. The first annual reports for the largest emitting facilities, covering calendar year 2010, will be submitted to EPA in 2011. Vehicle and engine manufacturers outside of the light-duty sector will begin phasing in GHG reporting with model year 2011. Some source categories included in the proposed rule are still under review.

EEOC Issues Draft ADA Regulation Changes

The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has issued draft regulations to implement the equal employment provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as amended. These regulations are open for public comment through November 23, 2009. Among the proposed changes include provisions to define that “disability” be interpreted broadly; expansion of the definition of “major life activities”; provisions to include that an impairment that is episodic or in remission is a disability if it would substantially limit a major life activity when active; and that actions based on an impairment include actions based on symptoms of an impairment. The Business Council will be submitting comments on this proposal, and is seeking input from member companies.

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