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Legislative Update on Major Issues

June 24, 2005

Following is a update on major issues The Council has worked on during the 2005 session. For questions or further details, contact the appropriate staff person at (518)465-7511.

Health Insurance

Mental health parity - A. 2912 (Tonko) Requires all health insurance policies to provide full coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. Business Council opposes. Passed Assembly, delivered and referred to Senate Rules.

S.1672 (Libous) - Provides for expanded mental health coverage with exemptions for small businesses. Business Council supports. Senate Insurance.

Freedom Health Plans - S.1405 (Seward) / A.2688 (Morelle) - Relates to establishment of Freedom Health Insurance Plans and provides a small business tax credit for the purchase of health insurance. Passed Senate. In Assembly Insurance Committee. Business Council supports.

Mandate Cost/Benefit Commission - S.1372 (Seward) / A.6193 (Crouch) - Creates a health benefit and cost commission to conduct a comprehensive review of all current mandated benefits and an accurate cost analysis of proposed benefits. Bill passed in Senate. In Assembly Insurance Committee. Business Council supports.

Hospital Infection Rates - S.5086-A (Hannon) / A. 8698-A (Rules at the request of Gottfried) Establishes a system requiring the tracking and reporting of hospital infection rates in New York State. S.5855 - Chapter Amendment to make changes to certain provisions relating to hospital acquired infection reporting. Passed both houses.
Business Council supports.

Mail order pharmacy - S.5456-A (Spano) / A.8420-A (Nolan) - Would deny employers a cost-effective option for offering coverage of prescription drugs by preventing them from charging an added co-payment if employees chose the costlier option of getting drugs. Senate Labor. Assembly Rules. Business Council opposes.

Privacy Issues

Breach of security - S.3492 (Fuschillo) / A.4254-A (Brennan) - Establishes a process for when a company needs to notify a consumer about the unauthorized acquisition of personal information; sets penalties for non-compliance. A.8937 / S.5827 Chapter Amendment making changes to certain provisions of the information security breach and notification act. Passed both houses.

Spyware - S.186-B (Balboni) / A.549 (Towns) - Aims to protect the privacy of computer users by banning the dissemination of computer spyware without the authorization of the owner of a computer. Passed Senate. Assembly Codes.

Sale of e-mail addresses - S.2901-A (Rath) / A.227 (Pheffer) Provides that it shall be unlawful to sell or lease any consumer's electronic mail address if the consumer opts out of participation. Senate Rules. Assembly Calendar. Business Council opposes.

Workers' Compensation

Assessments - S.3531 (Winner) / A.6703 (Weprin) Reduces the assessments for the second injury fund from 150% to 110% of previous year's disbursements. Bills in Senate Labor and Assembly Labor. Business Council supports.

S.5612 (Winner) / A.8713 (Farrell) - Changes the methodology, but not total payments, for assessments collected from self-insured trusts. Senate Floor Calendar. Passed Assembly. Business Council supports.

Reforms - S.5064 (Meier) - 500 week schedule for permanent partial disability, objective medical guidelines, integration of social security and pension benefits. Bill in Senate Labor. Business Council supports.

Benefits - A.8764 (John) - Increases benefits in $75 increments to $625; then ties it to the average weekly wage, allows a union to negotiate a different comp carrier, attorney fees for controverted cases, drug/durable medical equipment fee schedule, etc. Bill in Assembly Labor. Business Council opposes.

Article X

S.4961 (Wright), S.5717 (Wright - Governor's Program Bill #66), A.1908 (Nesbitt) - enacts a power plant siting law that provides for a streamlined, one-stop shopping program for the building of power plants. On Senate Calendar (#908), In Senate Rules Committee, In Assembly Energy Committee. Business Council supports.

A.5865 (Tonko) - provides for a power plant siting process that imposes costly regulatory and procedural burdens. Business Council opposes. On Assembly Calendar (#642).

Vicarious Liability

S.1410 (Johnson) / A.2620 (Canestrari) - Provides that the lessee of a motor vehicle for a term of more than one year shall be deemed to be the owner of such vehicle for the purpose of determining civil liability for the damage caused by use of such motor vehicle. The bill was originally on the June 7th Transportation Committee Agenda in the Assembly, but was pulled off by Assemblyman David Gantt moments before the meeting began. On Senate Calendar (#177) / in Assembly Transportation Committee. Business Council supports.

Procurement Reform/Procurement Lobbying (Ken Pokalsky)

The legislature adopted new requirements and restrictions on “procurement lobbying.” Key features of S.5873 (Winner)/A.8964 (Silver) include the following:

The Business Council did not oppose the regulation of "procurement lobbying," but we did oppose the agency contact restrictions included in this legislation. We also supported higher applicability thresholds than the $15,000 included in this bill. Several provisions we opposed, such as the extension of the Lobbying Act to activities related to the "implementation of regulations", were excluded from the final bill.

Economic Development Power Programs (Ken Pokalsky)

The legislature approved a comprehensive bill that extends and modifies several New York Power Authority (NYPA) programs that provide reduced-rate power to eligible employers across the state. This bill (S.5866/Wright-A.8960/Tonko), supported by The Business Council, included the following provisions:

Outsourcing (Ken Pokalsky)

It seems unlikely that a significant "outsourcing" bill will pass both houses. S.5427 (Maziarz) - prohibiting "outsourcing" of labor and services under state contracts, will likely stay on the Senate calendar; The Assembly version, A.8669 (John) is on the Assembly Calendar. Assemblyman Brodsky’s bill (A.1213, which would prohibit certain development incentives to businesses that move jobs out of NYS) is in the Assembly Economic Development Committee, and the Senate version is not moving. Business Council opposes these measures.