Legislative Wrap-Up March 11, 2010: Senate Bills Protect Disabled, Provide Cost Savings For Libraries

March 12, 2010

The New York State Senate passed legislation this week which protects New York’s disabled community, grows our state’s agriculture industries and markets, protects consumers from telemarketing frauds, and provides for new cost-saving measures for libraries, among other initiatives.

Ensuring Safety for the Disabled

S6728 (Huntley): Establishes felony offenses relating to endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person; defines "incompetent or physically disabled person" to mean an individual who is unable to care for himself or herself because of a physical disability, mental disease or defect. The purpose of this legislation is to criminalize endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person.

Anti-Spoofing Bill Protects Consumers from Telemarketing Fraud

S2753-A (C. Johnson): Provides that a person may not alter his or her caller identification with the intent to defraud, harass or harm the recipient of the call. This legislation would ban "spoofing" within the state. Spoofing is the transmission of misleading or inaccurate caller identification information with the intent to defraud, harass, mislead or cause harm to any person.

Cost Savings for New York’s Libraries

S3903A (Oppenheimer): Relates to cooperative bidding by libraries and library systems. This legislation would amend education law to permit public libraries and library systems to engage in cooperative competitive bidding.

Boosting Agriculture Industries and Markets

S6317A (Aubertine): Expands the definition of "agricultural commodity" to include maple sap and maple products produced therefrom. The purpose of this legislation is to amend the definition of agricultural commodity to include not only maple syrup, but also "pure" maple products produced from such syrup. This measure will make the maple tapping industry in New York State more economically viable, and help set the stage for future expansion.

S6443A (Aubertine): Includes the production of maple sap and pure maple products within the definition of agricultural tourism. The purpose of this bill is to amend the definition of agricultural tourism to ensure that the production ;f maple sap and the pure maple products made therefrom are recognized as activities that can be enjoyed as agricultural tourism. This amendment will also ensure that the production of maple sap and pure maple products made therefrom are included in definition of agricultural tourism for the purposes of determining activities that are recognized as sound agricultural practices.

S6780 (Valesky): Adulterates frozen desserts made with wine bearing or containing more than one-half of one percent, but not more than five percent of alcohol by volume. This bill would permit the manufacture and sale of frozen desserts made with wine. There's no doubt that the passage of this bill would help to expand the grape and wine industry in the state by allowing such a delicious to treat be sold.

S4837 (Aubertine): Permits small seasonal farmers to place signs on state highways. This bill allows farmers to advertise their seasonal crops and products by placing signage along state highways beyond the current limit, so that they may continue to notify consumers of their availability and promote agri-tourism.

Standing Up for Northern New York Energy Consumers

S2813B (Aubertine): Establishes the North Country power authority and provides for its powers and duties. The purpose of this bill is to create a public benefit corporation, a political subdivision of the state, to provide electric power services to designated municipalities in St. Lawrence and Franklin Counties.

Other Important Legislation Passed This Week

S4260A (Krueger): Requires one member of the state board of real property services to be a current resident of New York city who is knowledgeable in real property tax procedures and practices of New York city and is familiar with the operational procedures of New York city's department of finance. The purpose of this bill is to provide for the appointment of an individual from New York City to the State Board of Real Property Services.

S2831A (Valesky): Relates to travel by firefighters and ambulance workers; provides emergency service permits for interchanges and barriers while emergency operation is taking place. This legislation is intended to provide ambulances and fire trucks with fast and free Thruway access, while at the same time preserving the regulatory flexibility of the Thruway Authority.

S5577A (Squadron): Relates to making the provisions governing liquor licenses consistent with respect to public interest factors. This bill would make consistent the factors that shall be considered by the state Liquor Authority (SLA) when determining whether pubic convenience and advantage, and the public interest will be promoted by the granting of any of the on-premises liquor licenses provided for in Article 5 of the Alcoholic Beverage control (ABC) Law.

S6602: Makes appropriations for the legal requirements of state debt service and lease purchase payments and other special contractual obligations.

S5726 (Klein): Relates to reacquisition of a lot, plot, or part thereof owned by a burial society or by a cemetery corporation; definition of a burial society. This bill authorizes a cemetery corporation, under certain circumstances, upon application to and approval by the cemetery board, to reacquire, resubdivide and resell lots, plots or parts thereof owned by defunct burial societies and associations.

S4714 (Leibell): Requires reporting to the New York state police of a suspected or perceived threat concerning biological, chemical or radiological agents. The purpose of the reporting requirement provided in this bill is not to enable the State Police to take over such cases, but to merely create a centralized database. It is critical for New York State to capture information regarding these types of incidents statewide for many reasons, including: Identification of trends or patterns; Enhanced perspective of future response needs; Connection of related incidents that may cross jurisdictional/investigative agency boundaries; and Statistical compilation for additional federal funding justification for New York State.

S5182A (Farley): Adds a certain parcel of land to the list of premises which generally restrict manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers from sharing an interest in a liquor license. This bill seeks to assist the economic revitalization of the City of Schenectady by enabling the reopening of the Van Dyck, which has operated as a restaurant, jazz club and brewery in the historic Stockade neighborhood of Schenectady.

S6753 (Espada): Extends effectiveness of provisions establishing rents in respect of certain loans to owners of multiple dwellings. This bill extends the existing authority of the local housing agency in the city of New York to restructure rents in residential buildings that have received low-interest, municipally-financed rehabilitation loans. Currently, the ability to restructure rents expires on June 30, 2010.  This extender would be effective for loans closed on or before June 30, 2014.

S3038A (Volker): Includes Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority and its police officers and aircraft rescue firefighters in the provisions of the civil service law providing for the resolution of impasses in collective bargaining negotiations by the public employment relations board. The NFTA Transit Police are engaged in criminal law enforcement activities, and the NFTA Aircraft Rescue Firefighters are engaged in rescue and fire fighting activities in connection with the NFTA.  These can be dangerous and high risk activities. The need to ensure labor harmony and prevent unlawful work stoppages due to a breakdown in the collective bargaining process demands that binding arbitration be made available to this agency.