Legislative Wrap-Up: Week Of May 3: Protecting Construction Workers, A Permanent "Power For Jobs" And Charter School Reforms

May 06, 2010

The State Senate Democratic Majority passed bills this week which ensures payment to capital construction workers in order to protect jobs, makes ‘Power for Jobs’ – a program supporting more than 250,000 jobs – permanent, increases the cap on charter schools while also enacting new accountability and oversight standards, and raises the standard for transparency within SUNY, CUNY, and state boards.
Protecting Construction Workers
S7686 (Dilan) / A10926 (Lopez): Clarifies the definition of the term liabilities with respect to the period for which an appropriation remains in full force and effect. The purpose of this legislation is to authorize the continued payment for contracts that have already been entered into by the state. It is imperative that this legislation be adopted in order to ensure that payment for critical infrastructure work will continue this year and in future years - even if a budget is not adopted by the April 1st deadline.
Passed 59-0

Making ‘Power for Jobs’ Permanent                                                          S7573A (Aubertine): Creates a permanent “Economic Benefit Power Program” to streamline and build on the success of ‘Power for Jobs’ and other successful low cost power for economic development programs. The program protects more than 250,000 jobs statewide. As part of this program, qualifying businesses around the state will be offered seven-year agreements for low-cost energy providing them the financial stability to attract and maintain long-term employment commitments. Passed 58-3 (See also our "Powering New York's Future" initiative.)

Budget Extenders
Budget Extender 5: This emergency appropriation bill provides an All Funds appropriation in the amount of $2.304 billion to various state departments and agencies. Of this amount, $622.92 million is from the General Fund. This bill continues the pre-existing appropriation authority established pursuant to the first four emergency spending bills for ARRA projects and Federal transportation projects that have no State share.
Passed 39-21
Article VII Emergency Appropriations: This legislation would allow a school board to authorize the withdrawal of excess funds, as determined by the school district’s legal or fiscal officer, from the Employee Benefit Accrued Liability Reserve Fund. The amount of this withdrawal would be limited to the lesser of the total excess available or the Gap Elimination Adjustment as proposed in the 2010 Executive Budget. These funds may only be withdrawn for the purposes of maintaining educational programming for the 2010-2011 School Year.
Increasing and Opening Charter Schools
S7678 (Rules) /  A10928 (Camara): Provides amendments to the powers and duties of boards of cooperative educational services, to the operation and management of and enrollment at charter schools, and increases the cap on the total number of charter schools in the state to four hundred sixty. The purpose of this legislation is to increase both the number of charter schools and the transparency and accountability of all charter schools in the state, and also to give school districts the authority to contract with education management companies.
Passed 45-15
Expanding Transparency Reforms to State Boards
S5585C (Stavisky) / A9844A (Glick): Requires the board of trustees of SUNY, CUNY and HESC to make publicly available agendas and subsequent meeting records on their websites. This bill would increase the transparency for the Boards of Trustees of our higher educational institutions in New York State. Since members of these boards are not elected by the general public and do not serve a constituency, their meetings should be open and available at all times
so that all New Yorkers have the ability to understand the decision making process that goes into life altering decisions such as tuition increases.
Passed 58-1
S7369 (C. Johnson) / A10052 (Paulin): Requires the secretary of state to compile, make public and keep current certain information about state boards. No complete public inventory of state commissions, boards, councils, task forces, or similar bodies exists in New York.  As a result, it is difficult, if not impossible, for New Yorkers to have an understanding of existing boards, their composition, purpose or legal responsibilities. This legislation would bring New York in line with the majority of states which already provide this information to their citizens.
Passed 59-0
Other Legislation
S2613A (Klein) / A2374A (Lancman): Enacts the "jury pool fair representation act", which establishes a system that collects demographic data for jurors. This bill would require the recording of demographic data on jury pools to determine whether jury pools in this state represent a fair cross-section of the community.
Passed 44-16
S7129B (Stewart-Cousins) / A10272B (Brodsky): Authorizes Greenburgh North Castle Union free school district to lease certain real property and establishes that the Greenburgh North Castle Union Free School District 12 and St. Christopher's Inc. are "private not-for-profit schools". The purpose of this legislation is to allow the Greenburgh North Castle Free School District and St. Christopher’s Inc. to provide instruction to students who were enrolled in the McQuade Kaplan School, which was closed in December 2009.
Passed 60-0
S7053 (Onorato) / A10921 (Latimer): Provides that certain information shall be kept confidential and redacted or withheld from referees' hearings records or referees' decisions. This bill would protect from disclosure certain confidential financial, medical, and personal information contained in the decisions and records of the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board (UIAB).
Passed 60-0
S5838A (Adams) / A8313A (Destito): Provides that standards for plans established by the disaster preparedness commission will not override regulations adopted by any state agency. This bill would relate to disaster preparedness plans for nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
Passed 60-0
S4801 (Savino) / A7173 (Abbate): Grants those assigned or employed as investigators and senior investigators in the Bureau of Criminal Investigation or as a station commander, zone commander, zone sergeant, first sergeant, captain or major within the division of state police protection from removal or other disciplinary action, except for removal or other disciplinary action which is founded on the incompetency or misconduct of such employee. The purpose of this legislation is to grant longevity in title to BCI investigators within the Division of State Police, and also to provide that investigators within the Division of State Police who completed three continuous years or more shall not be demoted without a hearing.
Passed 60-0
S4920 (Thompson) / A5655 (Rosenthal): Amends state lighting efficiency standards for existing public buildings by eliminating wasteful artificial night lighting of public buildings. This legislation requires the inclusion of ways of eliminating wasteful lighting in the state lighting efficiency standards and will therefore help the state reduce energy consumption and the pollution resulting from its unnecessary use.
Passed 60-0
S6868A (Oppenheimer) / A9966A (Paulin): Authorizes the city of White Plains to impose an additional one-quarter of one percent sales and compensating use tax. Given the sharp, unexpected downturn in the local economy, sales tax revenues have declined substantially since the last one-quarter of one percent rate of sales tax increase was enacted in 2008. Since then, the city has depleted almost all of its fund balance. Under the proposed legislation, the city will be required to pay the proceeds of the rate increase into a contingency and tax stabilization reserve fund, under section 6-e of the general municipal law, which will assist the city in replenishing its depleted fund balance.
Passed 32-29
S3601C (Parker) / A3065C (Benjamin): Requires certain day care centers to provide twelve months notice before the close of a facility. This legislation will give parents sufficient time to find a new location for their children when the current center they utilize announces its impending closure. Parents need the time to evaluate different centers in their neighborhood to determine the most suitable location for their children. This bill will also give employees of a
closing center adequate time to look for future employment and allow time for efforts to reorganize the troubled center.
Passed 41-20
S5288A (Squadron) / A657A (Kavanagh): Amends the selection of the composition of boards of elections. Without affecting the bipartisan parity requirement, this proposed constitutional change would allow the legislature to enact legislation specifying qualifications for members and officers of boards of elections that the legislature deems appropriate for the boards to carry out their duties in administering elections.
Passed 32-29
S7366 (C. Johnson) / A10835 (Weisenberg): Allows certain special assessing units other than cities to adjust their current base proportions and to adjusted base proportions in the county of Nassau. This bill gives special and approved assessing units in Nassau County the authority to tailor their "cap" to local conditions each year, thereby removing the annual uncertainty and freeing them to do what is best for their local property taxpayers.
Passed 61-0
S3593C (Krueger) / A6813C (Kavanagh): Provides for the recycling of rechargeable batteries and prohibits disposal as solid waste, includes definitions and civil sanctions. The purpose of this legislation is to require New York State residents to recycle rechargeable batteries instead of disposing of them as solid waste. This law requires rechargeable battery manufacturers to work in partnership with New York retailers to set up a free, easily accessible recycling network for residents.
Passed 59-0
S5445 (Sampson) / A4300 (Canestrari): Provides that actions by the Attorney General for unlawful practice of law will be construed to include both civil and criminal actions. The bill is designed to encourage the Attorney General and the various district attorneys to coordinate their efforts and share responsibility for the enforcement of the Judiciary Law as it pertains to the unlawful practice of law. In this way, the public would realize a greater degree of protection from unlicensed practitioners and more uniform statewide enforcement of UPL laws would be accomplished.
Passed 59-0
S3538A (Addabbo) / A7079A (Towns): Requires negotiations with the certified employee organization that represents certain employees (peace officers and special officers in New York City) during the collective bargaining processes. The purpose of this legislation is to provide peace officers and special officers the same rights as police, firefighters, other Fire Department employees, and NYC correction officers to bargain directly with the City of New York over all matters, including but not limited to, overtime and time and leave matters.
Passed 58-1