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Government Affairs Albany Update
August 18, 2010

Lobby Act Gift Ban Regulation Proposed

The NYS Commission on Public Integrity has formally proposed regulations related to the Lobbying Act gift ban amendments adopted in 2007. That legislation, Chapter 14 of the laws of 2007, redefined the term “gift” as anything of more than a “nominal value,” and prohibits lobbyists and clients from giving any gifts to any public official. The legislation also provides exemptions from the gift ban for activities such as political and charitable events; complementary attendance at widely attended, officially related events; awards and promotional materials; and several other categories.

In part, the regulations recite statutory provisions. However, they also add additional provisions and criteria not included in statute. They also present definitions and criteria that are inconsistent with recent Commission compliance guidelines.

The State Register notice, the proposed lobbyist gift ban regulation, and the proposed regulation implementing similar restrictions on public officials receiving gifts, are available on our web site here.

Comments on these proposals are due September 25, 2010. The Business Council is developing formal comments on these proposed regulations. If you would like to contribute to or participate in this effort, please contact us at your earliest convenience.

Staff contact: ken.pokalsky@bcnys.org

PfJ Extender Approved

One of the final acts of the legislature this month was final approval of a one year extender of the Power for Jobs program, until May 15, 2011. This legislation, A.11523, was given final passage by the Senate earlier this month, and approved by Governor Paterson on August 4. In his approval message, Governor Paterson said he was signing the bill “reluctantly,” and based on the urging of current program participants, but citing significant limitations inherent in another one year extender of the current program, as well as several “technical” deficiencies in the legislation.

NYPA has told the Council that they are in the process of contacting all current participants, will send all current participants a “one page” reapplication for, and expedite re-establishment of benefits. NYPA’s position is that all participants would be “made whole” on PfJ and/or ECSB benefits effective back to the program expiration date of June 2, 2010.

Final bill text and the Governor’s approval message is available on our Energy Committee web page.

Staff contact: ken.pokalsky@bcnys.org

Workers’ Comp Medical Treatment Guidelines

The Business Council has submitted comments on the formal proposal to implement first time medical treatment guidelines for the state’s workers’ compensation system. These guidelines were committed to as part of the 2007 legislative reform package, and were initially drafted by a joint state-business-labor work group. Once finalized later this year, the guidelines will establish a formal code of practice for injury categories that are major cost drivers in the comp system, including neck, back, shoulder and knee. Our comments are available here; the proposed WCB medical treatment guidelines are available here.

While the Council participated in the medical work group that drafted the treatment guidelines, we have identified significant concerns in this proposed rulemaking related to the implementation of the guidelines – provisions that were developed by the Board without direct involvement of the workgroup. Most significant, these address a proposal to deem virtually all treatment modalities consistent with the guidelines to be “pre-authorized,” despite the statutory pre-authorization threshold of $1,000. We also raise concerns with the regulation’s vague definition of “maximum medical improvement,” a key definition for the purpose of moving permanent partial claims to classification.

Comments were developed with input from members of our Workers’ Compensation Committee. The most recent committee update is available here.

Staff contact: lev.ginsburg@bcnys.org

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