Government Affairs Albany Update
December 3, 2010
The State Senate is due back in Albany next Tuesday, December 7, and will likely consider legislation appropriating additional federal education funding, among other issues.
- The Business Council is opposing new “on-bill financing” legislation (A.42013), which the Assembly just passed, and the Senate may take up next week. This bill would mandate that public utilities act as a bill collector for NYSERDA, and include charges for repayment of NYSERDA energy efficiency loans in their customer’s utility bills. This legislation places the utilities in the position of cutting off utility services for customers that fail to repay NYSERDA loans, and allows NYSERDA to place “mechanics liens” on real property, which would impair any property sales. Implementation costs may ultimately be born by utility ratepayers.
- Wage Enforcement. The Business Council is calling for a gubernatorial veto of legislation (S.8380/A.11726) approved by the Assembly this week and previously approved by the Senate, that would significantly increase penalties for failure to pay required wages, and impose significant new wage notice requirements on most employers.
- Hydrofracking Moratorium. The Assembly also completed passage of legislation placing a moratorium on the issuance of new state permits for oil or gas wells using hydraulic fracturing (aka “hydrofracking”) until May 15, 2011. While intended to delay any development of the Marcellus shale formation in New York, this bill will prohibit application of this widely used technology anywhere within the state, and would impede approval of up to 100 gas drilling permits. The Council is calling for a veto of this measure as well.
No Final Action on Deficit Bills. The Paterson Administration proposed several measures to reduce a projected $315 billion deficit in the current state fiscal year, including:
- Program bill #331 (A.42008-A and S.68008) that authorizes spending of $607 million in additional federal education funding, with that spending offset by $300 million reduction in state-provided aid), which passed the Assembly this week.
- Program bill #334, which would save $55 million through reductions in medical provider reimbursements, which has yet to be introduced.
- Program bill #326 (S.68002/A.42002), which would cut $30 million in various education and higher education funding programs. This bill has not passed either house.
DEC Environmental Assessment Forms. The Department of Environmental Conservation is proposing amendments to its Environmental Assessment Forms, which are used in determining potential environmental significance under the state’s environmental quality review act (SEQRA), to require consideration of factors such as environmental justices, energy efficiency/climate change, “smart growth,” pollution prevention and other “emerging environmental issues.” The Business Council’s Environment Committee will be reviewing and commenting on this proposal. Comments on the Full and Short EAF and supporting documents will be accepted by NYS DEC until close of business, February 18, 2011.