Government Affairs Albany Update
July 2, 2010

Budget/End of Session Update

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has declared the Assembly’s work on the FY 2011 budget complete, with yesterday’s passage of the legislative revenue bill, A.9710-D/S.6610-C. The Assembly projects that this bill will increase state revenue by $869 million in the current fiscal year, and nearly $1.8 billion next year. It includes several provisions opposed by The Business Council, most notably a three year deferral of most business tax credits. The Assembly recessed yesterday, with the Speaker saying they were unlikely to return to Albany this summer.

The revenue bill – with most of its provisions also supported by the Governor – has yet to pass the Senate, with the lack of SUNY “empowerment” provisions as one of the major stumbling blocks. The Senate recessed yesterday with no clear timetable for returning to Albany.

Governor Paterson has pledged to veto literally thousands of provisions of the legislature-approved budget, and has urged the legislature to approve contingency measures in the event that a hoped-for extension of federal stimulus funds does not materialize.

Note that summary information on all of the budget bills that have passed to date is available on the Governor’s web site here.

Along with the budget drama, the legislature engaged in its end-of-session rush, considering numerous bills of concern to the state’s business community. Our update on key end of session legislation is available here.

Tax Credit Deferral Still on the Table

This week the legislature issued new an amended revenue bill to support the Fiscal 2011 state budget that included a modified version of the Governor’s proposal to defer most business tax credits. The new proposal (S.6610-C/A.9710-D, Part Y) excludes $2 million in credits per taxpayer, and then defers all credits above that limit for tax years 2010, 2011 and 2012. The Assembly passed their version of the bill, but the Senate recessed without taking action on this legislation.

The Business Council has renewed our opposition to these tax credit deferrals, and has reached out again to legislative leaders and staff.

Corporate Advocacy Restrictions

The Business Council has been leading the opposition to legislation - S.8405 (Sampson)/A.11588 (Silver) - that would significantly restrict corporate participation in political advocacy.

These provisions are included in a broader campaign finance/ethics reform bill. Among other things, it would require shareholder approval of any expenditure for a “political issue communication” — which is defined as any communication made to a general public audience and intended to encourage the public to contact a government official, candidate for public office, or party position or a political party regarding pending legislation, public policy or a government rule or regulation. Additionally, there are reporting requirements to both shareholders and the secretary of state and the secretary of state is directed to publish them on a website.

The Business Council has strongly opposed this legislation and it is our opinion that it blatantly violates the first amendment of the constitution. The requirements, which would generally not apply to unions since unions make most of these types of expenditures through political action committees, would place burdensome new requirements on businesses that are incorporated, and LLCs, in order to participate in the political process, or even advocate on behalf of their own interests.

We will continue to oppose this legislation and strongly encourage all of our members to contact your local legislator to state your opposition. Our memo in opposition is available here.

Martin Act Bill Moves to Senate Calendar

The Business Council and a number of member companies actively lobbied Senators in opposition to a bill that would subject publicly traded companies to the provisions of New York’s Martin Act (S.5768-Schneiderman/A.8646-Brodsk.) This legislation would significantly increase the legal exposure of the business community by authorizing a public retirement system, mutual fund, or other institutional investor to bring actions for damages sustained due to alleged violations of the Martin Act – enforcement action currently limited to the Attorney General. Joining the Business Council’s lobby efforts were the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and American Tort Reform Association. Currently, the bill is on the Senate Calendar and in the Assembly Corporations Committee.