Government Affairs Albany Update
October 29, 2010

Pro-Jobs Agenda - Voters' Guide 2009-2010

Council Finalizes Legislative Endorsements

Considering the importance of the 2010 state legislative elections, The Business Council significantly increased its political efforts this year with the release of our Voters’ Guide ranking of legislative voting records, increased PAC contributions, and first-time endorsements in state legislative races.  Our endorsements are based on current legislators’ voting records on Business Council priority issues, on issue questionnaires submitted by challengers, and by candidates’ support of our five point fiscal reform agenda.

Council endorsements of Senate challengers and/or candidates for open seats include:

Senate incumbents receiving the Council’s endorsement include Senators Thomas Libous, Owen Johnson, Steven Saland, Hugh Farley, James Seward, Michael Nozzolio, James Alesi, Michael Ranzenhofer, John Defrancisco, Joseph Griffo, Andrew Lanza, John Bonacic and Cathy Young.

Council endorsements of Assembly challengers and/or candidates for open seats include:

Assembly incumbents receiving the Council’s endorsement include Assembly members Brian Kolb, Dean Murray, Nancy Calhoun, Marcus Molinaro, Marc Butler, Jane Corwin, Gary Finch, Michael Fitzpatrick, Steve Hawley, Jim Hayes, Tony Jordon, Peter Lopez and Bob Oaks.

These endorsement come through the Business Council’s Political Action Committee. Additional information on our 2010 endorsements are available here.

Autism Coverage Mandate Vetoed

Citing up to $70 million in increased state and local costs, and stating that he “cannot sign a bill that would impose costs that the legislature does not fund,” Governor Paterson has vetoed a bill that would mandate health insurance coverage for the screening, diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder (see S.7000-B (Breslin)/A.10372-A (Morelle) and veto message #6832). The Business Council had opposed passage of this new coverage mandate by the legislature and had recommended a gubernatorial veto, saying that it would expand health insurance coverage beyond that which is medically necessary, the common standard for which medical treatment is compensable under health insurance plans, and would have rate impacts of up to 2 percent. Governor Paterson’s veto message also cited the likely impact on private sector health coverage and the expectation that the bill would increase costs and lead to the loss of coverage for some private sector employees.   

Workers Comp Update

This week’s State Register included the Workers’ Compensation Board long-delayed proposed rulemaking on qualifications for group self-insured trusts and the parameters within which they may operate, based on 2008 self-insurance reform legislation. A 45 day comment period is now underway. We will be reviewing and commenting on the regulations and welcome any thoughts Business Council members may have on the content of the regulations. In part, the regulations were delayed pending legislation proposed by the Paterson administration last June that would phase out all remaining self insured trusts by the end of this calendar year – legislation that received no legislative action during the 2010 session.

In addition to this rulemaking, the Board is moving forward with efforts to implement impairment guidelines for use in classifying permanent partial claims, has issued a number of new forms related to its new medical treatment guidelines and is convening a panel to review attorney’s fees - in addition to several other initiatives in an apparent effort to complete projects in advance of the new administration taking over in January.

Briefly Noted

Acting DEC Commissioner Named. Governor Paterson has named Peter M. Iwanowicz, the administration’s Deputy Secretary for the Environment, as Acting Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation, saying that Iwanowicz will continue to serve in both positions. Previously, Mr. Iwanowicz served as Assistant Secretary for the Environment and was the first Director of the New York State Office of Climate Change. Before joining State government in 2007, Mr. Iwanowicz served as Vice President for the American Lung Association of New York State, and also worked for Albany-based Environmental Advocates of New York.  

“New York First” Website. The state has initiated its “New York First” website, described as “a business-focused portal to the wealth of incentives, programs and resources available to companies – large and small – within New York State and those that choose to relocate here.”  It provides access to information on state business incentive programs, state permit requirements and permitting assistance, public and private sector economic development organizations, economic data and related information.

Funeral leave for same sex partners. Legislation approved by Governor Paterson, S.6177-A (Montgomery)/A.2563-A (Glick), requires employers to apply their current funeral leave programs for individuals to committed same sex partners as if they are spouses, to take effect October 30. However, its does not require employers to have or create a funeral leave policy.

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