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This Week in Government Affairs
May 1, 2013

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Campaign Finance Reform

Heather Briccetti’s op-ed on campaign finance reform was published yesterday (April 29) in Crain’s New York Business. Last week, we updated you on the fact that many groups are now calling for a taxpayer-financed campaign system similar to New York City.

Read Heather’s full op-ed “Don't waste public money on campaigns."

Many groups have claimed that polls show people support a taxpayer-financed system yet the latest Quinnipiac Poll shows that is not the case with 53% of those surveyed saying they oppose it. Read the full Quinnipiac Poll online.

We continue to update our Campaign Finance Reform page with the latest proposals and information, please continue to check back as we continue to update it with the latest information.

Legislative Update

The Business Council is weighing in on the following legislation this week.

S.2432 (Klein)/A.370 (Dinowitz), Oppose, Eliminates Additional Payment Fees – This legislation prohibits charging consumers additional rates or fees for payments made through different means (mail, electronic transfer, telephone authorization, or other means).

S.2710 (Young)/ A.5936 (Schimminger), Support, Sales Tax Standards – This legislation requires that external economic indices used to determine vendor sales tax payment by The Department of Taxation and Finance reflect local economic factors.
Contact: ken.pokalsky@bcnys.org

S.2932 (Lavalle)/A.2729 (Weisenberg), Oppose, Homeowners Insurance Deductible Triggers – This legislation grants the Superintendent of the Department of Financial Services the authority to establish standards for the operation of hurricane windstorm deductibles.

S.2958 (Addabbo), Oppose, Moratorium on Foreclosures – This bill establishes a one year moratorium on actions to foreclose on a mortgage.

S.3596 (Lanza)/ A.269 (Kavanagh), Oppose, Failure to Report Hazardous Substances – This legislation makes the failure to report hazardous substances is a class A misdemeanor and subsequent violations a class E felony.
Contact: darren.suarez@bcnys.org

S.3642 (Lavalle)/ A.4677 (Thiele), Support, Defines “Permanent Place of Abode” for Tax Purposes – This legislation would amend the tax law to clarify the definition of permanent place of abode for the purposes of personal income tax residency rules.
Contact: ken.pokalsky@bcnys.org

S.4363 (Griffo)/ A.6234 (Robinson), Support, ATM Fee Disclosure - This legislation eliminates provisions requiring an automated teller machine operator to post a sign that a fee is imposed for the use of such machine.

S.4762 (DeFrancisco)/ No Same As, Support, New York Youth Works Tax Credit – This bill amends eligibility provisions of the New York Youth Works Tax Credit, which was recently extended to cover 2014 through 2018.

A.4980 (Silver) / S.4705 (Stewart-Cousins), Oppose, "Martin Act" Surcharges – This bill creates new public campaign funding systems for all state wide and state legislative elections, to be financed in part through surcharges on Martin Act enforcement penalties.
Contact: ken.pokalsky@bcnys.org

A.5067 (Millman)/ S.166 (Squadron), Oppose, LLC Political Contributions – This bill would limit campaign contributions of limited liability companies to $5000 or less.

A.5234 (Wright)/S.1075 (Maziarz), Oppose, Roadway Excavation Quality Assurance Act – This legislation requires utility companies or their contractors to pay prevailing wage on projects where a permit to use or open a street is required.
Contact: Frank Kerbein

Political Update

Fundraisers

With session back in full swing; be sure to check out the latest fundraisers and events.

Regulatory Update

JCOPE Proposed Rules

Contact: ken.pokalsky@bcnys.org

The Joint Commission on Public Ethics today (April 30) unanimously voted to send five regulations to the State Register for public notice and comment prior to adoption. Of particular interest to Business Council members is the proposed rule on “gifts” to public officials, applicable to lobbying clients and lobbyists. JCOPE is also proposing new rules governing public officials’ receipt of gifts, honoraria and travel expenses. JCOPE is also making limited amendments to their existing “source of funding” regulation. However, these amendments do not address concerns raised previously by the Council. All five draft regulations are available as links here.

JCOPE’s proposed gift rules include significant changes based on comments on prior drafts submitted by The Business Council and other interests. Most importantly, they adhere to the statutory definition of regulated gifts, which exclude complementary attendance at widely attended events and other categories of activities. The proposal still contains provisions of concern, however, including a vague standard that multiple “permissible” gifts may constitute Lobby Act violations, with no clear indication of how this determination would be made. It also contains a new proposal to define “nominal value” as “fair market value of ten dollars or less,” with regard to the definition of “gift.”  In its public officer law rulemaking, JCOPE also proposes a new prior approval process for public officials accepting complementary attendance at widely attended events. Under this proposal, approval is required by the top executive of an official’s agency, or their designee, and can only apply to the specific person seeking the approval. The Business Council will be submitting comments on these proposed rules during the official SAPA process. Please feel free to contact us with questions or comments.

Workers' Compensation

Contact: lev.ginsburg@bcnys.org

Pain Guidelines - On April 22 the Workers’ Comp Board released the draft Non-Acute Pain Medical Treatment Guidelines for informal review and comment prior to a formal proposal being issued. The guidelines include new best practices and drug testing requirements for narcotic prescriptions as well as changes to the MTGs for existing neck, back, shoulder, knee and carpal tunnel syndrome for the treatment of pain. The Business Council appointed three of thirteen members of the development committee. We encourage all members to review the new MTGs, available here. The Business Council will be submitting comments, and we appreciate your input.

Minimum Benefit Increases – The state’s 2013 Business Relief Act increased the minimum weekly workers’ compensation benefit to $150. The new minimum weekly benefit applies to workers' compensation claims with dates of accident or disability on or after May 1, 2013. The minimum benefit is subject to the existing limitation that the injured worker's weekly benefit plus any actual earnings (or earning capacity) may not exceed the injured worker's average weekly wage at the time the injury. The maximum workers' compensation weekly benefit is two-thirds of the prior year's New York State Average Weekly Wage (SAWW). The NYS Department of Labor has determined that the 2012 SAWW was $1,204.81, up 1.4% from 2011. As a result, the maximum weekly benefit for claims with a date of accident or disability from July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014, is $803.21

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