Government Affairs Albany Update
September 9, 2011
- Recharge NY Briefings
- Marcellus Shale Update
- Emergency Contracting Authority in Place for Certain Hurricane Repairs
- Federal Update
The New York Power Authority has announce its schedule of regional briefings on implementation of Recharge New York (RNY), the new economic development power program adopted during the 2011 legislative session. The schedule of briefings is available here. Briefings will be held at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. at each site. All interested businesses and non-profits are encouraged to attend.
Our overview of the RNY program is available here. Based on our discussions with NYPA, the planned RNY implementation schedule is for electronic applications to be available by October 1st, with applications for the initial allocation cycle due back by December 1st. Applications will be “scored,” and applicants will be notified of NYPA’s proposed allocation. The Economic Development Power Allocation Board will review these and make formal recommendations to the NYPA board, which will make final decisions in January.
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On Wednesday September 7, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released its “Economic Assessment Report for the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement on New York State’s Oil, Gas, and Solution Mining Regulatory Program,” which projects a significant positive economic impact from Marcellus shale development. The DEC also commenced its formal 90-day public comment period on its previously released draft SGEIS, as well as its intentions to release draft implementation regulations for public comment in October (affecting 6 NYCRR Parts 550-554 and 750-1). The comment period on the regulatory package will run concurrently with the SGEIS public comment period. DEC plans to hold four public hearings during the comment period for the SGEIS and regulations in November. The hearings will be held in counties within the Marcellus Shale region, as well as New York City. Exact dates and locations will be released in early October. For more information on the economic assessment and SGEIS, please go to our most recent Environment Committee Alert.
The Business Council has also scheduled a meeting of its Marcellus Shale Working Group on Wednesday, September 14 at 10 a.m., at the Corporate Woods Boulevard offices in Albany to discuss the amendments contained in the updated SGEIS, proposed regulation, the DEC advisory panel, DEC staffing levels, fees and severance tax, and comptroller’s spill fund.
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Pursuant to Executive Order 19 issued by Governor Cuomo on September 1st, the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) is authorized to suspend many state contracting and procurement requirements for contracts to repair infrastructure damaged as a result of Hurricanes Irene and Lee. This will permit combination of design and construction, where deemed appropriate by DOT and others. The NYSDOT will be soliciting proposals for various contracts including construction contracts, engineering consultant contracts, other professional consultant contracts and/or contracts for commodities and services. The suspension of contracting requirements also includes the suspension of standard requirement for advertisements in the New York State Contract Reporter. Businesses interested in providing these services should frequently monitor the NYSDOT website where contract opportunities and related information will be posted.
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President Lays Out “American Jobs Act”
President Obama laid out his jobs plan on Thursday proposing to invest $447 billion into the economy in the form of $253 billion in tax cuts and $194 billion in spending. His speech did not identify the funding sources for the various proposals; although he noted his bill would be fully paid for when sent to Congress next week, and he hinted at potential “loophole” closings and tax credit reductions which were on his list. A summary of key provisions is provided below; the White House Fact Sheet on the proposal is available here.
Tax Cuts: $253 billion (est.)
- Employer payroll taxes cut by $65 billion: This is designed to cut payroll taxes in half for 98 percent of businesses.
- Employee payroll taxes cut by $175 billion: By extending the current tax holiday set to expire in December, the president’s plan would eliminate payroll taxes for firms that increase their payroll by adding new workers or increasing the wages of their current workers (up to $50 million in wage increases).
- A new tax credit for employing long-term unemployed, worth $8 billion: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those out of work for more than 27 months make up the bulk of the current unemployment rolls.
Spending: $194 billion (est.)
- A new Infrastructure bank of $10 billion, which appears to echo the bipartisan proposition brought by Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas.
- Increase spending on transportation improvements by $50 billion.
- $49 billion to extend payments to the unemployed, which would extend benefits for 6 million people who would see the end of benefits this December. The reform would allow unemployment insurance to be given to workers whose hours are reduced but not necessarily laid off. The money would work as a bridge for workers to keep gaining experience before they receive a full time job.
- $30 billion to modernize schools, with funds be split between federal and state programs to refurbish at least 35,000 public schools. The plan would also protect teachers at risk of losing their jobs.
- $5 billion increase in funding of programs for low-income students, as part of the federal “pathway to work” fund.
- $15 billion in spending on rehabilitation and repurposing of vacant property.
Patent Reform Bill Goes to the President
The US Senate gave final approval on Thursday to the first major overhaul of the United States patent system in nearly 60 years, voting 89-9 to send the America Invents Act to President Obama. The bill changes the system by altering the Patent and Trademark Office’s fee system and creating a “first-to-file” system, under which patents would be awarded to the first person to file an application. It also creates new systems for challenging patents. The bill will provide the Patent and Trademark Office with the tools to expedite application processing, drive down the backlog of unexamined patent applications, and issue higher-quality patents that are less likely to be subject to a court challenge.
Although bills to reform the patent system have languished for years, the economic downturn provided the impetus needed to action as many businesses and elected officials have supported reform as a tool to spark innovation and stimulate the economy.
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