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Legislative Highlights, 2000

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E-COMMERCE

Passed Both Houses

Telemarketing - S.8132 (Fuschillo) /A.10817A (Klein). Establishes the no telemarketing sales call statewide registry regarding telemarketing solicitations.

Telemarketing - S.8116 (Maziarz) / A.7641B (Clark). Enacts the Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act.

High Tech New York - S.8020 (Alesi) / A.8107A (Sweeney). Authorizes the development of a "high-tech New York" website by the office of science, technology and academic research to promote the development of high tech businesses in New York.

Credit card security - S.7902 (Spano) / A.1511B (Matusow). Provides enhanced security to debit and credit card transactions by prohibiting the printing of the debit or credit card number on transaction forms and other restrictions; affords the same protections to debit cards as exist for credit card transactions.

Other Bills of Interest

Trade Secrets - S.7240 (Alesi) / A.10117 (Schimminger). Enacts the uniform trade secrets act to provide improved trade secret protection to industry; provides statutory rights and remedies to parties who have had trade secrets misappropriated. Supported bill as passed by Senate. Amended in Assembly (A.10117-B) with new Senate companion (S.8217) containing objectionable provisions. Opposed.

LABOR AND HUMAN RESOURCES

Passed Both Houses

Health Care Worker Whistleblower - S.8133 (Spano) / A.11435 (Nolan). This bill would move beyond the current whistleblower protections in the law and provide special protection by prohibiting retaliatory actions by health care employers against health care employees who provide information to a public body concerning alleged violations of the law, rules or regulations by the employer.

Daily Count of Workers - S.6935 (Marcellino) / A.11275 (Nolan). This bill would require contractors to keep daily records that would show the number of workers by trade at a job site during any public works project.

Toxic substance signs - S.492 (Onorato) / A.4779 (Butler, D.). Mandates the contents of signs that must be posted in the workplace where toxic materials are present. Directs the Health Department to develop posters and information sheets for such purposes and provides for civil penalties for violations.

Other Bills of Interest

Minimum Wage - S.4465C (Spano) / A.10080 (Nolan). This bill would increase the state's minimum wage from $5.15/hr. to $6.75/hr. effective January 1, 2001 and automatically trigger future increases to the state's average weekly wage as determined by the Department of Labor. It passed the Assembly on June 7th and remained in the Senate Labor Committee.

Sexual Orientation Discrimination - S.782A (Goodman) / A.811A (Sanders). This bill would amend the human rights law and prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, credit, public accommodations and education while preserving an exception for religious institutions or organizations based on religious principles. It passed the Assembly on June 13th and remained in the Senate Rules Committee.

Workers' Compensation Exemption - S.4124B (Alesi) / A.368B (Robach). This bill would provide exclusion from Workers' Comp. coverage for any injury or occupational disease sustained during the commission of a felony or misdemeanor for which the employee is convicted. This bill passed the Senate on March 21st and remains with the Assembly Labor Committee.

Domestic Violence Court Proceedings - S.6433A (Spano) / A.9867A (Hochberg). This bill would prohibit employers from discriminating against employees who are victims of domestic violence and are absent from work to attend court proceedings related to it. It also requires employers to permit use of available leave time or grant additional time if none is available. This bill passed the Assembly on June 13th and remains in the Senate Rules Committee.

Unpaid Leave for Victims of Domestic Violence - S.7579 (Dollinger) / A.10960 (John). This bill would permit victims of domestic violence to take unpaid leaves to address ongoing domestic violence. This would include the inability to work resulting from domestic violence or a threat of domestic violence, medical attention needed as a result of domestic violence, attendance at counseling sessions, the seeking of legal assistance, including attending court and the seeking of other services needed by the victims of domestic violence. The bill passed the Assembly on June 6th and remains in the Senate Rules Committee.

Group Health Insurance Notification - S.7806 (Seward) / A.10411 (Carrozza). This bill would require employers to provide 30 days written notification prior to canceling group health insurance. No cancellation would be effective until 30 days from the mailing of the written notification. It passed the Assembly on June 14th and remains in the Senate Rules Committee.

Employee Personnel Files - A.2708 (Tocci). This bill would require all employers to notify employees of the existence of personnel files, permit the employees to review and copy the personnel files and allow employees to request correction of information in the file or submit a written statement refuting information in the file. Would provide civil action by employees for violations. It passed the Assembly on March 20th and was delivered to the Senate.

Use of Sick Time - A.5446 (Nolan). This bill would entitle employees in the public and private sectors to use their sick leave to care for ill or injured children and parents after their personal leave is exhausted. Will not override a contrary collective bargaining agreement in effect prior to the effective date. It passed the Assembly on March 8th and was delivered to the Senate.

Comparable Worth - For the second consecutive year, six bills advancing the comparable worth concept passed the Assembly. Five of them have Senate companion bills which have remained in their respective Senate committees.

Paid Family Leave - Last year, President Clinton directed the U.S. Department of Labor to issue regulations allowing individual states to use their unemployment insurance trust funds to finance paid family leave. The final federal rules have been issued and they are effective on August 14, 2000. The Society for Human Resource Management, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the LPA are filing suit to overturn the new regs.

Currently, in New York State, we have three one-house Assembly bills that would promote the concept of paid leave in New York State.

A.5167 (Nolan), a bill which would authorize the payment of New York State statutory disability benefits to non-disabled employees who qualify for a federal family/medical leave, was proposed in February 1999, referred to both the Assembly Labor and Ways and Means Committees and advanced further to the Rules Committee and on to the Assembly Calendar on June 6, 2000.

A.8994 (Nolan), a bill which would authorize payment of New York State Unemployment Insurance benefits to employees who would otherwise qualify for federal FMLA, or who would qualify except for the firm's size or the employees service, was proposed in July 1999. It also provides for in-person assistance at UI offices. The bill remained in the Assembly Labor Committee during the 2000 session.

A.9056 (Nolan), a bill identical to A.8994 except for the in-person assistance, remained in the Assembly Labor Committee during the 2000 session.

WORKERS' COMPENSATION

Passed Both Houses

SIF Investments / IME's - S.8176 (Rules) / A.11473 (Rules @ the Request of the Governor). Allows the State Insurance Fund to invest up to fifty percent of its surplus or reserve funds in preferred stock, common stock and mutual funds in the same manner as other carriers. This legislation also provides the Workers' Compensation Board with the authority to oversee independent medical examiners.

Officer Salary - S.5212 (Alesi) / A.10133 (Morelle). Permits the actual salary of a corporate officer or sole proprietor to be used to calculate workers' compensation premiums charged and the benefits paid. Support.

Other Bills of Interest

Chiropractor Fees - S.4117B (Spano) / A.2946C (Tocci). This legislation would provide that the level of renumeration for chiropractors be equivalent to that provided to physicians. Additionally, the legislation would provide for the "unbundling of services" and allow chiropractors to charge for each individual diagnosis, treatment, evaluation or procedure administered at each visit. Passed Senate June 14, 2000. Assembly Ways and Means. Opposed.

Payment of claims - S.3495A (Maziarz) / A.4637A (Morelle). This legislation would allow payment of medical expenses of claimants by their health insurance carrier in the event such expenses are normally covered pending determination of claim. Senate Labor Committee. Passed Assembly. Support.

Illegal Acts - S.4124A (Alesi) / A.368B (Schimminger). Workers' Compensation benefits would not be paid for an injury or occupational disease sustained in the perpetration by the employee of a felony or misdemeanor for which the employee is convicted. Passed Senate, Held in Assembly Labor. Support.

Controverted cases - S.6136 (Morahan) / A.5159 (Nolan). Would require workers' compensation insurance carriers and self-insured employers to pay the representation costs of claimants who prevail in controverted cases. Senate Labor Committee, Third Reading Assembly. Opposed.

Sexual offense - S.7607 (Spano) / A.9789B (Stringer). This legislation not only provides that an employee who suffers injuries as the result of sexual offense can collect under the workers' compensation system, but that they may also sue their employer for negligent acts or omissions. Senate Rules, Assembly Rules. Opposed.

Approval of medical procedures - A.11431 (Nolan). This legislation would raise the level of special services from $500 to $1500, provided for an administrative resolution procedure which would have done away with the three person panel that currently exists and replaced it with a one person provider. This administrative resolution procedure did not allow the carrier or self-insured the opportunity to comment. The legislation further set up a workers' compensation system penalty fund and an advisory committee. Assembly Labor. Opposed.

ENERGY

Passed Both Houses

Energy efficient appliances - S.7172A (Morahan) / A. 5302-A (Colman). Requires the state to purchase energy efficient appliances and provides a phase-in schedule. Opposed.

Indian Point 2 - A.10096 (Silver) / S.7094 (Velella). Con Ed recovery bill in conjunction with Indian Point 2 nuclear power plant. Opposed.

Safety Training - S.7511B / A.11357 (Rules). Underground facilities safety training account and training programs, funded by penalties for violations.

Other Bills of Interest

PILOT - S.7897A (Wright). Provides for PILOT agreements for nuclear power plants. Passed Senate and referred to Assembly. No Assembly companion. Support.

Retail Divorcement - S.5110 (Nozzolio) / A.6340 (Abbate). Oil producers / refiners retail divorcement act. Passed Assembly. Died in Senate on third reading. Opposed.

Clean Energy Fund - Four bills were introduced establishing AClean Energy Funds@:

S.7323B (Marcellino). Establishes a "Clean Energy Fund" supported by a surcharge on electricity bills and NYPA contributions. Also, mandates certain amounts of "clean energy technologies" and limits utility fees in some instances. Senate Energy Committee. Opposed.

A.8506C (Englebright). Not a same as S.7323B but very similar. Establishes "Clean Energy Fund" and mandates levels of clean energy technologies by utilities/generation. Funding through mandated surcharge on all electricity bills and NYPA contributions. Assembly Energy Committee. Opposed.

A.6099C (Tonko). Similar to the above referenced bills. Establishes a "Clean energy initiative" and "Clean Energy Fund Balance" through an expanded Systems Benefits Charge and contributions by NYPA. Limits utility fees, mandates levels of clean energy. Emphasizes switch to alternative energy sources (e.g. solar, wind). Passed Assembly. Opposed.

A.11165 (Brodsky). Another bill which mandates an energy fund through NYPA contributions ($1 billion over ten years). Limits utility fees levied in order to maintain electric reliability, establishes electric plant emission levels, mandates levels of "clean energy technologies". En Con Committee - referred to Codes. Opposed.

ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION

Passed Both Houses

Pesticide Legislation B The legislature adopted a bill allowing New York City and other counties to require 48-hour notice to neighbors prior to certain outdoor pesticide applications (see S.8223/Marcellino and A.1461-A/DiNapoli). This new notice requirements affects the Acommercial lawn applications,@ as that term is defined in the bill. It excludes the application of general use pesticides on property owned or leased by the applicator; nor does it apply to utilities, agricultural applications or golf courses. Notice would have to be given to occupants of residential buildings B and owners of other properties B if they abut the property on which pesticides will be applied, and their abutting boundary is within 150 feet of the point of application. The bill contains a number of also exemptions from the 48 hour notice provision, including one for Aemergency applications,@ and one for the use of Areduced risk pesticides@ registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This bill also requires perimeter signs in most instances where general use lawn pesticides are being applied to an area greater than 100 square feet; and requires the posting of consumer awareness information in most retail stores that sell general use lawn pesticides.

Other Bills of Interest

Superfund/Brownfields B The Governor reintroduced his program bill from last year (see S.8018/Marcellino). Similar language was included in the Executive Budget proposal, but it was not acted on by the legislature. The Business Council opposed S.8108, but has offered amendments to the Administration. No superfund/brownfield legislation passed either house during the last week of session.

Vehicle Refueling B The DEC proposed legislation late in session (see S.8113/Marcellino and A.11437/Glick) that would ban the refueling of motor vehicles from mobile tanks over 55 gallons, with limited exceptions. The Business Council opposed this bill, and it did not pass in either house. A more limited bill (S.8237) that would have created an advisory committee on the issue, and given the DEC general regulatory authority on Amobile fueling,@ passed the Senate only.

School Purchasing - This bill (S.3617-B/Marcellino and A.5178-A/Englebright ) directs the Office of General Services to develop Aguidelines@ to be used by schools in the purchase of Aenvironmentally sensitive goods and services,@ including construction materials, Athat minimize adverse impacts on children and the environment.@ No other criteria was included in the bill. The original version of the bill passed the Assembly, but was recalled. Neither house passed the final version.

Sustainable Development B The Business Council supported legislation creating a "sustainable development task force" to help better coordinate environmental and economic development goals (S.7847/Balboni and A.8490-A/Grannis). The bill passed the Assembly only.

HEALTH

Passed Both Houses

Physician Profiling / Hospital Report Cards B S.8127 (Hannon). Establishes a physician profiling system in New York State. The bill requires the Department of Health to post on its Web site information about the practice histories of physicians. Included would be information about a doctors' education, hospital affiliations, professional awards, malpractice history and hospital dismissals that stemmed from harm to patients. The bill also requires the state to develop other quality assurance measures, including hospital report cards and data about outcomes of various medical procedures. The bill did not include anything on office-based surgery. The Business Council supports.

Prostate cancer screening B S.976 (Skelos) / A.5037 (DiNapoli). Requires health insurance policies to include coverage for prostate cancer screening. The bill applies to men fifty and over who are asymptomatic and forty and over for men with a family history of prostate cancer.

Lawyer contingency fees in medical malpractice cases B S.554 (Defrancisco) / A.8762 (Rules). Lifts the cap on the amount of contingency fee a trial lawyer can receive in a medical malpractice case. A sliding scale fee system was established previously as a medical malpractice system reform. The Business Council opposes; wrote memo in opposition.

Other Bills of Interest

Moratorium on health insurance mandates B S.6275-A (Seward) / A.9615 (Grannis). Provides that new health insurance mandates shall not apply to business until they have been tested on the state workforce, after which time a review and analysis could be done on the costs of the mandate. Modeled after a Kansas law. Support.

Small business health insurance tax credit B S.7507 (Seward). Provides a twenty percent tax credit for employers with fifty or less employees, who provide health insurance to their employees. Some restrictions apply. Support.

Allow all small business access to the HCRA Small Business Program B S.7556 (Hannon) / A.10208 (Morelle). Support.

Collective bargaining for physicians B S.7541-A (Hannon) / A.9484-A (Canestrari). Allows individual physicians to band together and collectively bargain with health maintenance organizations. Oppose.

Definition of medical necessity B S.5161-D (Stafford) / A.7440-D (Colman). Would dramatically change the terms and conditions of the health-care system by putting in statute very broad and vague definition of medical necessity. Strongly oppose; wrote memo in opposition.

Infertility mandate B S.3131-B (LaValle) and A.7303 (Silver). Would mandate that group health insurance policies cover the costs of infertility treatment. Oppose; wrote memo in opposition. Note: the bills do not match. The separate versions passed in their respective houses.

Prescription drug price controls B S.6068-B (Marchi) / A.9786 (Lafayette). Would impose strict government price controls on the price of prescription drugs. Oppose; wrote letter of opposition to Senator Bruno / Speaker Silver. Neither bill passed.

Dispute resolution of bills between hospitals and HMO's B S.6745-A (Seward) and A.11235 (Gottfried). Sets up guidelines for the payment of hospital bills by HMO's. Note: the bills do not match. The Business Council supported the Senate bill and opposed the Assembly bill.

Conversion of non-profit health organization to for-profit. S.7836 (Seward) and A.8846 (Grannis). Establishes ground rules for the conversion of a non-profit health organization to for-profit. Support; wrote letter urging action to Senator Bruno / Speaker Silver.

INSURANCE

Passed Both Houses

Distributing Dividends by Domestic Life Companies - S.6730-A (Seward) / A.10029-A (Grannis) B Permits domestic stock life insurers to distribute dividends to shareholders in a new manner.

Bank/Insurance Parity - S.8090 (Farley) / A.11375-A (Greene) - Imposes additional restrictions on the insurance activities of banking organizations consistent with the Gramm-Leach-Biliey Act also extends for 3 years provisions of certain banking laws relating to the sale of insurance by banks.

Other Bills of Interest

Commercial Insurance Deregulation - S.6120-A (Seward), S.5525-A (Seward) / A.7686 (Grannis) - Allows commercial insurers to participate in a deregulated marketplace under certain conditions. Also, makes changes to RBC standards, investment standards, and penalty levels. Support.

Civil Authority Insurance - S.7576-A (Seward) / A.11134 (Grannis) - Permits insurers to provide coverage for economic lose due to property damage to also cover economic loss due to acts of civil authority. Support.

Wrongful Death - A.8013 (Weinstein) / S.5487 (Lack) - Would expand New York's wrongful death statue by authorizing compensation for grief and emotional loss. Opposed.

Prejudgement Interest - A.566 (Kaufman) - Would require prejudgement interest in personal injury actions or that would provide for non-economic damages in wrongful death cases. Opposed.

BUSINESS LAW/GENERAL COUNSELS

Passed Both Houses

Stock Options - S.6780 (Skelos) / A.11208 (Rules). Requires the issuance of stock options and rights to corporate directors, officers and employees to be performed pursuant to the policies of all the stock exchanges and automated quotation systems on which the corporation's stocks are listed or authorized. Support.

Other Bills of Interest

Trade Secrets B S.7240 (Alesi) / A.10117 (Schimminger). Enacts the uniform trade secrets act to provide improved trade secret protection to industry; provides statutory rights and remedies to parties who have had trade secrets misappropriated. Supported bill as passed by Senate. Amended in Assembly (A.10117-B) with new Senate companion (S.8217) containing objectionable provisions. Opposed.

S.2277 (Volker) / A.4509 (Morelle). Enacts comprehensive civil justice reform. Support.

TAXATION

Passed Both Houses

Hotel Tax - A.11451 (Rules) / S.8173 (Rules). Increases the Nassau County Hotel Tax from 0.75% to 3%, increases the Nassau County entertainment ticket surcharge, imposes a $10 fee for Nassau County Police accident reports, and imposes a surcharge on Nassau County Traffic and Parking Violations Agency-issued parking tickets in Nassau County. Oppose.

Other Bills of Interest

Railroad Taxes - S.8032A (Stafford) in Senate Rules / A.11450 (Rules, request of Tokasz) in Assembly Ways & Means. Amends Real Property Tax Law to expand the current exemption for railroad transportation properties by adding a ten-year exemption for all newly constructed and rehabilitated capital assets built to improve freight or passenger service with the approval of the Department of Transportation. Support.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS

Passed Both Houses

45 Day Notice Provisions - S.6777-B (Skelos) / A.9995-C (Morelle) - Provides that the PSC shall be deemed to grant the authority for the issuance of stocks, bonds and other forms of indebtedness within 45 days of the submission of an application therefor by a telegraph or telephone corporation.

Other Bills of Interest

Service Quality Standards - S.6222 (Volker) / A.8964-A (Tonko) - Maker provisions establishing services quality standards, credits, reporting requirements and penalties for telephone companies providing local exchange service.

Building Access - S.7059 (Wright) / A.10054 (Tonko) - Defines telephone service for the purpose of section 102 of the public service law, provides that landlords shall not interfere with the installation of facilities necessary to provide telephone service upon his or her premises.

SMALL BUSINESS

Passed Both Houses

Filing Liens - S.2375C (Stafford) / A.4241C (Morelle). Clarifies the application of provisions relating to filing of liens on single family residences.

Other Bills of Interest

Minimum Wage - S.4465C (Spano)/A.10080 (Nolan). Increases the state minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.75 as of 1/1/2001; and provides that on or before 1/1/2002 and annually thereafter, such statutory wage shall be increased to reflect the increase in state average weekly wage for covered employment as calculated by the Labor Department. Passed the Assembly. Oppose.

CONSUMER

Passed Both Houses

Liquor Tasting - S.1932 (Stafford) / A.8437A (Lentol). Permits distilled spirits to be tasted in off-premise licensed establishments. Support.

Restaurant Inspection - S.7636A (Velella) / A.10335A (Klein). Requires retail food establishments to post a copy of the date and results of its most recent sanitary inspection; directs the department of agriculture and markets to train inspectors as "retail food specialists" to aid retail food stores in complying with sanitary requirements; sets frequency of required inspections, with inspections to be more frequent in the event of failure; provides for cessation of retail operation or suspension or revocation of food processing license in the event of failure of three consecutive inspections.

Food Labeling - S.6463 (Johnson) / A.9464 (Magee). Repeal of a standard identity for baked beans.

Agriculture Development - S.6465 (McGee) / A.9460 (Destitio). Establishes the food and agriculture industry development program within the department of agriculture and markets to provide matching grants to projects involving new product development, alternative production, processing, distribution and marketing technologies, introduction of high technologies, or organizational methods that further development of the food and agriculture in New York.

Other Bills of Interest

Batteries - S.143B (Spano) / A.6315B (Abatte). Requires all battery operated ionization-type fire or smoke alarms sold in the state after January 1, 2001 to use long life batteries. Passed Senate. Opposed.

CONTRACT PROCUREMENT

Passed Both Houses

State Procurement - S.8226 (Goodman) / A.11523 (John). Relates to the prioritizing the purchasing of re-manufactured commodities through the state procurement process; makes related provisions permitting libraries and such library systems to make purchases through the office of general services centralized contracts. Support.

Energy Efficiency Standards - S.7172A (Morahan) / A.5302 (Colman). Allows the President of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority with the Commissioner of OGS to promulgate minimum energy efficiency standards for appliances and energy using products purchased by the state. Oppose.

Other Bills of Interest

Re-manufactured Goods - A.6984D (Morelle) / S.3857D (Balboni). Would prioritize the purchasing of re-manufactured commodities through the state procurement system. Passed the Assembly.

State Procurement - S.8008 (Goodman). Extends the Procurement Stewardship Act for five years. Passed Senate.

TRANSPORTATION

RR Tax Bill - see Taxation section.

Passed Both Houses

Southern Tier Rail Authority - S. 2895B (Magee) / A.2492C (Parment). Passed both Houses. Authorization to acquire and repair 146 miles of track in southern tier. On June 13th S.2895B (Magee) / A.2492C (Parment) which creates a Southern Tier Rail Road Authority in Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Livingson, and Steuben Counties, was passed by both Houses of the Legislature. The Authority will be given the authorization to acquire and improve 146 miles of railroad in the southern tier counties included in the authority. The new authority will also be eligible for as much as $1.1 million in multi-modal funding. The Business Council has recently established a Rail Freight Sub-committee under the Transportation Committee and will be reaching out to its railroad and transportation members to investigate rail freight in New York State. The sub-committee will be charged with researching and compiling information on rail topics such as this new proposal.

Transportation of Cigarettes - S.8177 (Fuschillo) / A.11455 (Rules) at the request of the Governor. Relates to penalties for the transportation of cigarettes. Opposed.

Motor Carrier Permits - A.11168 (Gantt) / S.7641 (Stafford). Extends provisions relating to motor carrier eligibility for divisible load permits. Support.

CONSTRUCTION

Other Bills of Interest

NYC Housing - S.4988 (Goodman) / A.4508 (Sanders). Regulates Major Capital Improvements (MCI) in NYC housing. Passed Assembly. Senate Rules. Opposed.

Bidder Registry - S.6798 (Spano) / A.11083A (Nolan). Establishes a bidder registry for public works contractors. Passed Assembly. Died in Senate Rules. Opposed.

FINANCIAL SERVICES

Passed Both Houses

Bank/Insurance Parity - S.8090 (Farley) / A.11375-A (Greene). Imposes additional restrictions on the insurance activities of banking organizations consistent with the Gramm-Leach-Biliey Act also extends for 3 years provisions of certain banking laws relating to the sale of insurance by banks.

Credit Union Expansion - S.8061-A (Farley) / A.7701-C (Greene). Removes the limitation on credit unions which prohibit the issuance of shares of a credit union to another credit union where such sale would result in the aggregate amount of its shares held by other credit unions exceeding 30% of its capital.

Pre-Paid Burial Accounts - S.4744 (Fuschillo) / A.7248 (Pheffer). Provides that monies paid in advance for funeral merchandise or services may be deposited and held in trust in a credit union, in addition to other banking institutions.