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This Week in Government Affairs
December 17, 2012

TOP STORY

Regional Council Awards. On December 19, Governor Cuomo announced $738 million in economic development awards through his Regional Economic Development Council initiative. An overview of the 2012 awards is available here, the report on all awards is available here. In all, 725 projects received assistance in the second round of REDC funding. Staff contact: ken.pokalsky@bcnys.org.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

Assembly Economic Development Hearing.The Business Council urged the legislature to restore unused tax credit capacity under the Excelsior program, assure timely repayment of deferred business tax credits, and adopt broad business cost reduction measures including marginal tax rate reductions, as part of the state’s effort to promote renewed economic growth in New York. These and other recommendations were included in testimony delivered this week to a joint hearing by the Assembly Economic Development, Small Business and Investigations Committees. Staff contact: ken.pokalsky@bcnys.org.

Tax Commission Appointments. Governor Cuomo has named a ten-person commission on tax reform and fairness. This panel, first announced last December, is assigned to make “revenue neutral” recommendations for reforming the state’s personal income, business and sale tax laws. Specifics on the commission’s operations and timing are not yet available. The Business Council, through its Tax Committee, will be monitoring the Commission and providing our reform recommendations. The press release announcing the Commission is available here. Staff contact: ken.pokalsky@bcnys.org.

RechargeNY Allocations. NYPA continues to deploy its RechargeNY economic development power, a program adopted in 2011 with strong support from The Business Council, and announced thirty-four additional awards in its fourth round of approvals this week. These included Business Council members Harden Furniture, LaFarge North America, Kionix and others. RechargeNY is the state’s most significant economic development program directed at supporting re-investment in existing New York State business, especially manufacturing. Importantly, the Council’s advocacy included capital investment, quality of jobs, and regional economic impact be included as award criteria, in addition to current and increased employment, which were the prime criteria for the “Power for Jobs” program that RNY replaced. With these approvals, about 730 MW of a total 910 MW of available RechargeNY power has been allocated. NYPA has on open application process for RechargeNY, and accepts applications through the state’s consolidated funding application system. Details on this round of allocations is available here. The Business Council’s program summary is available here. Staff contact: ken.pokalsky@bcnys.org.

Assembly Brownfields Hearing. New York’s brownfield program has been an economic success, and has redeveloped properties and communities better than any other single program in the state, according to testimony delivered by The Business Council this week to a hearing of the Assembly Standing Committee. The Council added that brownfield projects have resulted in direct capital investments of over $6.80 for every $1 of tax incentive received. The Business Council’s testimony was developed with input from our Brownfield work group, which is preparing for expended legislative proposals in the 2013 session to modify both the eligibility, technical and tax credit provisions of the state’s brownfield law. Our testimony is available on line here. Staff contact: darren.suarez@bcnys.org.   

Albany Common Council. The Business Council joined a number of business interests in testifying in opposition to the Albany Common Council’s a proposed resolution supporting a Albany County-level ban on polystyrene foam disposal food service ware and the required use of biodegradable or compostable food service packaging. The Business Council generally opposes state and municipal level prohibitions on products or materials, and has opposed similar proposals introduced in the New York State legislature. Staff contact: darren.suarez@bcnys.org.

REGULATORY UPDATE

JCOPE “Gift” Regulations. The Joint Commission on Public Ethics has posted new, interim guidance on gift restrictions under the Lobbying Act, and will be posting informal draft regulations for public review in mid-January. JCOPE’s interim guidelines are a restatement of existing statutory provisions and prior commission’s advisory opinions. Importantly, it reiterates conditions of Advisory Opinion 08-01 that applies the Lobbying Act’s gift restrictions to “disqualified sources,” which includes not just registered lobbyists, but all persons that lobby, negotiate with, litigates against, applies to or receives funds from, or enters into contracts with a public official.The Council will be reviewing and commenting on JCOPE’s upcoming draft rule, and will be providing them with comments in advance regarding issues set forth in AO 08-01. Staff contact: ken.pokalsky@bcnys.org.

New York Healthcare Exchange. The New York Healthcare Exchange development continues with ongoing input from The Business Council and our members. As anticipated, on December 14, 2012, New York received conditional approval from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to operate a state-based Exchange. The letter from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to Governor Andrew Cuomo is available on the NY Health Benefit Exchange website. With this approval, New York is on course to not only run its own Exchange but will be ready for open enrollment of individuals and businesses to purchase private health insurance plans in 2014. The Business Council remains committed to working toward an affordable and robust insurance market with ample plan choice both inside and outside the Exchanges. Staff contact: lev.ginsburg@bcnys.org.

New York State Procurement Council. The New York State Procurement Council approved changes to its Appendix A, “Standard Clauses for New York State Contracts,” to reflect changes in State Finance Law Section 112 removing the State Comptroller’s authority to conduct pre-contract reviews for centralized contracts with the state Office of General Services. Please click here to see the approved revised version of Appendix A. The Procurement Council also approved Preferred Source Guidelines, which sets forth the purpose, scope and process of procuring from the Preferred Sources. Please click here to view these revised preferred source guidelines.

Super Storm Sandy Response. The Moreland Commission on Utility Storm Preparation and Response held its second public hearing on December 11, at SUNY College of Old Westbury. The Commission heard from Gil C. Quiniones, president of the New York Power Authority. He testified about the failure of LIPA to deploy its restoration crews. Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and Suffolk County Executive, Steve Bellone, testified about the failure of LIPA to adequately plan, and respond to the storm. The Commission will meet next on December 20th (location and time TBD). The Commission will submit recommendations to Governor Cuomo before the State of the State. Staff contact: darren.suarez@bcnys.org.

BRIEFLY NOTED

State of the State. Persons interested in attending the 2013 State of the State address, to be presented by Governor Cuomo on Wednesday, January 9 at 1:30 p.m. at the Empire State Plaza in Albany, can request tickets on line here. Anyone interested in attending needs to register by Friday, December 28 at 5:00 p.m.

Storm Assistance. Benjamin M. Lawsky, Superintendent of Financial Services, announced this week that representatives of the Department of Financial Services will be at six locations in Nassau County and New York City to offer help to homeowners, renters and business owners with insurance-related issues stemming from damage caused by Storm Sandy. The Department’s representatives will be available to meet with individuals inside agency Mobile Command Centers at the designated locations. The press release and listing of assistance locations can be found here.

Federal Ag Funding. On December 12 Governor Cuomo announced $1 million in federal funding to enhance the competitiveness of New York’s agricultural products, including $200,000 that will be directed to supporting the state’s beer, wine and spirits industry. The funds are thanks to the Specialty Crops Competitiveness Act of 2004 which authorizes the USDA to provide state assistance for specialty crop competitiveness programs including: research, promotion, marketing, “buy local” programs, environmental concerns and others. The announcement comes on the heels of Governor Cuomo’s Beer, Wine and Spirits Summit where many participants were vocal about the need to support agricultural crops for this industry. For more information and to read the press release please click here.

Summer Engineering Internships. The Division of Materials Management of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has a grant from the United States Environmental Protection Agency to place summer interns, specializing in engineering and science disciplines, in New York State businesses and organizations. The grant will reimburse you for their salary and fringe benefits, plus additional costs such as housing associated with the internship. Additional information is available on DEC’s website at http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/58632.html. Interested businesses need to act by January 31, 2013. The DEC contact is Aida M. Potter, P.E., phone 518-402-8628, email ampotter@gw.dec.state.ny.us.

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