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This Week in Government Affairs
January 8, 2013

TOP STORY

Tuesday, January 22nd will be a big day in Albany, with the release of Governor Cuomo’s Executive Budget Proposal, the initial meeting of our Government Affairs Council for 2013 (invited speakers include Robert Mujica, Secretary to the Senate Majority Leader, and Jim Malatras, Governor Cuomo’s Director of Programs and Policy), as well as our Annual Legislative Reception that evening. We will also be holding meetings of our Taxation, Environment, Energy and Financial Services committee meetings that day. All events are at the Hotel Albany (former Crowne Plaza), just down the hill from the Capitol. Staff contact: ken.pokalsky@bcnys.org.

The next day, Wednesday, January 23rd, John Traylor, Chief Procurement Officer from the Office of General Services and Ron Greenberg, First Deputy Director of the Division of the Budget will be the guest speakers at our first in a series of six information technology forums. They will be addressing “State Contract Procurement: The Changing Landscape for Technology Companies.” The event will be 11:30 a.m. and to 1:00 p.m., including lunch, at the Albany Hotel (former Crowne Plaza) and is open for all Business Council members.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

Campaign Finance Reform. Campaign finance reform will be a major issue in the 2013 session, with Governor Cuomo likely to announce his initiative in his state of the state message this week. The Business Council will be evaluating all reform proposals with an eye toward assuring that legislation does not disadvantage the private sector’s role in supporting pro-growth candidates. A number of proposals of concern have already been introduced, including:

We will be tracking and reviewing all campaign and election reform proposals, which will be available online.

REGULATORY UPDATE

New Political Spending Disclosures. The Attorney General has proposed a new regulation that would require registered charities (except 501(c)(3) organizations) and charitable trusts that expend more than $10,000 in “election related expenditures” (defined as including express election advocacy and election-related issue advocacy expenditures) to include in their annual reports an itemized disclosure of such expenditures as well as an itemized list of every donations over $100 “that is available to be used for an election-related expenditure.” This new disclosure mandate also requires identification of the donor and their employer. The regulation would exempt information already disclosed to, and made public by, another state agency, such as JCOPE. The underlying charity registration requirement applies to “any benevolent, philanthropic, patriotic, or eleemosynary person or one purporting to be such or law enforcement support organization entities” that “solicit contributions” in New York State, as well as charitable trusts regulated under Article 8 of the Estate Law. The proposed regulation and impact statement is available here; go to page 29. Our initial review indicates that this proposal will not apply to most organizations subject to the recent JCOPE “source of funding” disclosure rule, as most trade associations do not solicit “charitable” contributions. We are evaluating the proposal, and are seeking impac from interested members. Three public hearings are scheduled (January 15 in New York City, January 29 in Albany, February 20 in Buffalo and February 27 in Mineola.) Comments are due March 6, 2013. Staff contact: ken.pokalsky@bcnys.org.

Workers Comp Regulatory Agenda. On January 2, 2013 the Workers’ Compensation Board published their statutorily mandated 2013 proposed regulatory agenda. The proposed list had few substantial changes from 2012, but it does include the Board’s intention to modify forms for the purpose of electronic filings. The entire list can be found here. Staff contact: lev.ginsburg@bcnys.org.

Surface Coating and Sulfur Content Restrictions. The Business Council has submitted comments, based on input from Environment Committee members, on Department of Environmental Conservation regulations that would impose tighter restrictions on the VOC content of surface coatings, and on the sulfur content of home heating oil. Our comments are available on line here, and focused on concerns that commercial, or industrial, members that fire number two heating oil on or after July 1, 2012 are limited to the firing of number two heating oil with 0.0015 percent sulfur by weight or less, and the current law ECL Section 19-0325 states that after July 1, 2012, number two heating oil sold for use shall not have a sulfur content greater than fifteen parts per million. Due to fuel protocols it may reasonably take some facilities up to six years of refilling with low sulfur heating oil before the heating oil they fire would comply with the proposal. Additionally, The Business Council opposed the proposed deletion of a regulatory exemption for contact bond adhesives supplied by manufacturers in smaller, commercial-sized containers, a proposal that will have a substantive effect on New York State manufactures, while providing very little in VOC emission reductions. Both proposals are part of the DEC’s regular update of their “state implementation plans.” For additional information, contact: darren.suarez@bcnys.org.

FEDERAL ISSUES

Obamacare Rule. On December 28, 2012, the Treasury Department and the IRS issued proposed regulations intended to clarify that the massive $2,000-per-full-time-employee penalty for uninsured employees of large employers (defined as 50 employees or more), mandated by the Federal Affordable Care Act, will not apply so long as employers offer coverage to at least 95 percent of their full-time employees and their dependents up to age 26. This new “margin of error” rule applies whether or not the failure to offer coverage to 100 percent of full-time employees is inadvertent. The proposed regulation can be found here. Staff contact: lev.ginsburg@bcnys.org.

BRIEFLY NOTED

Education Reform Commission. Governor Cuomo has released the preliminary recommendations of his New NY Education Reform Commission.

The commission, chaired by Richard Parsons, presented following proposals aimed at boost student achievement:

A complete list of recommendations is listed in Putting Students First./p>

The Business Council expressed its commitment to working with the Governor and the Legislature to ensure that students have all the skills necessary to be successful in the post-high school world. As example, one of the Commission’s proposals urged New York to build on the success of early college high schools. Last month, The Business Council, IBM and the New York State Education Department hosted a conference on how to close the growing skills gap in the U.S., by offering alternative pathways in education that incorporate a traditional academic curriculum and technical education. Information on this event is available here.

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