Governor Urges Legislature to Return to Capitol
On Wednesday, November 29, Governor Cuomo's Office released a statement address the possibility of a Special Session to close out 2016. According to the statement the Special Session, along with a pay raise for legislators, may include:
- Breaking the Senate and Assembly logjam on the $2 billion housing memo and at least release much-needed funds to combat homelessness.
- Provide new funding to operate the Governor's Hate Crimes Task Force run by the State Police and DHR to battle recent acts of illegal discrimination.
- Procurement reforms, including providing Inspectors General for SUNY and CUNY with subpoena power for their foundations.
- Sweeping new ethics reforms to change the very structure of state government and puts the major questions before the people for Constitutional Amendments, including:
- o A constitutional amendment to limit outside income and create a fulltime legislature with a full-time salary that will be put before voters.
- o A second constitutional amendment to create 4-year legislative terms and put into place 8-year term limits for new members and term limits for statewide officials, which will be put before voters.
- o Reducing campaign contribution limits. · Limiting donations from those seeking state contracts during and after the RFP process.
- o Expanding disclosure requirements for local elected officials.
- o Extending the life of the Pay Commission until post Constitutional Amendments determinations.
- o Empowering the Office of Court Administration to ensure all legislators' outside income - as well as the Executive's Commissioners - are free of conflicts and in compliance with the Public Officer's Law.
At this time, it is unsure if the Senate and Assembly will agree to call back their members for a Special Session. The Assembly Democrats are due back in Albany on Monday, December 5th to discuss matter within their own House.
Governor Cuomo Acts on Several Legislative Measures
On November 28, the Governor signed or vetoed 130 bills. Among those bills the following are worth mentioning:
Rededication of unused funds in the New York state local government records management improvement fund to such fund (S6708-A Ritchie/A 10527-Fahy)
This bill would have prohibited the Division of Budget from transferring funds from the New York State Local Government Records Management Improvement Fund (LGRMIF) to the State's General Fund, and instead re-dedicate those funds for local government records management needs. (Vetoed by Governor, Veto Message 280)
Providing county correction officers with a special optional twenty-year retirement plan (S4001-B Ortt/A6612-B Abbate) This bill would have allowed county correction officers and deputy sheriffs who are engaged in correction officer duties to become covered by the provisions of a special 20-year retirement plan, which will provide a benefit of one-half of final average salary upon retirement, if the employing county elects to provide such benefits. (Vetoed by Governor, Veto Message 271)
Directs the office of children and family services to study and report on the availability of child day care for working parents (S1422 Carlucci/A1083 Paulin) This bill would have had the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) examine, evaluate and make recommendations concerning the availability of day care for children in this State. (Vetoed by Governor, Veto Message 263)
Repeals the definition of "transportation purpose" for the purposes of the metropolitan transportation authority (A10421 Brennan/S8037 Martins Public Authorities Law) The bill would have repealed a provision included in the SFY 2016-17 Enacted Budget which defines "transportation purpose" to include any actions: (i) that directly or indirectly support any mission or purpose of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) or its subsidiaries; and (ii) taken to produce revenue needed to support MTA transportation facilities. (Vetoed by Governor, Veto Message 259)
Relates to comprehensive emergency management provisions for homecare and hospice in counties and in cities with a population of over million (S6692-B Lanza/A9381-B Cusick) This bill would have required counties to revise their comprehensive emergency management plans to include provisions for home health care and hospice personnel during local declared emergencies. (Vetoed by Governor, Veto Message 279)
Relates to off-hours arraignment parts in counties outside the city of New York (S7209-A Bonacic/A10360 Lentol). See below for more information. (Signed by Governor, Chapter 492 of the Laws of 2016)
Includes the examination of tinted or shaded windows in the periodic inspection of motor vehicles (A4106 DenDekker/S6034-A DeFrancisco) This bill would include an examination of window tint in the yearly state inspection of a vehicle. (Signed by Governor, Chapter 444 of the Laws of 2016)
Governor Signs Bill Allowing for Consolidation of Arraignment Services
This new state law, Chapter 492 of the Laws of 2016, will allow the Office of Court Administration, using data provided by counties and local attorneys to set up a system whereby fewer courts could be assigned with arraignment duties, making the service more regional as opposed to town by town. Consolidating the number of courts available for first arraignment services should result in cost savings to counties and taxpayers counties by reducing the number of District Attorney Office and Public Defender employees needed to cover first arraignments.
Sustainable Development and Collaborative Governance Conference
On Tuesday, November 29, Governor Cuomo hosted one of his eight regional sustainability conference. The conference is part of a statewide effort to boost awareness of resources available to local governments and nonprofit organizations to help create sustainable communities across New York.
The keynote speaker was the United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro. Secretary Castro highlighted the importance of collaborating with community development experts, local elected officials and business leaders to share successful economic growth strategies. The Secretary stated, "New York has all the ingredients for success: a productive workforce, strong state and local leadership, and a public ready to face new challenges. Today's sustainability conference is a new step toward building neighborhoods of opportunity that promote prosperity for all in the region."
The conference hosted various break out session that included: Downtown Revitalization as a Regional Catalyst; Local Tools for Sustainable Best Practices and Adaptive Re-Use; Linking Infrastructure and Community Development; and Sustainable Food, Water and Energy in the Capital Region. These sessions were comprised of speakers and panel discussions that examined case studies, shared best practices and discussed examples of how New York State will continue to serve as a partner in creating sustainable, integrated communities and boosting bottom-up economic development efforts.
Organics: Reduce, Donate and Recycle
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is developing a comprehensive program to reduce the quantity of food scrapes that are disposed of in landfills. The program aims to achieve this goal by increasing the amount of edible food donated to those in need and by promoting composting, anaerobic digestion (AD) and other organics management facilities, to spur green jobs and renewable energy and to reduce harmful methane gas emissions.
Over the summer the DEC held regional food scrap legislation stakeholder meetings to solicit comments and feedback on this proposal as well as an early draft of potential legislation. NYSAC participated in these meetings.
The legislation would require large food waste generators to donate edible food when possible and to divert food waste for recycling or energy recovery if located within 50 miles of a digester or composting facility.
Although well intentioned, NYSAC is concerned that this proposal may negatively impact counties and raise costs for solid waste management. NYSAC will continue to track this draft legislation, advocate for count
25 Bills Not Yet Sent to Governor Cuomo
There are currently 25 bills that are waiting to be acted on by the Governor. Among those measures include
- a state fiscal takeover of county indigent defense costs
- S.8114 (DeFrancisco) / A.10706 (Fahy);
- increase vendor fees to the facilities located within forty miles of a Native American class III gaming facility S4237-A Gallivan/A10510 Peoples-Stokes;
- supplemental Medicaid reimbursement rate for certain high Medicaid utilization hospitals, including county hospitals S.6948-A (Hannon) / A.9476-A (Gottfried);
- provisions on timely notices in public works contracts (S.6906 Ranzenhofer /A.10136 Cusick); and
- Several extensions for county hotel occupancy tax or mortgage recording taxes.
Home Stability Support (HSS) Proposal Would Benefit County Budgets
To address more than 150,000 homeless children and another 80,000 families on the brink of homelessness statewide, Home Stability Support (HSS) is an innovative new proposal designed to reduce counties' public assistance costs while keeping more families in their homes.
The HSS proposal would create a new statewide rental supplement for public assistance-eligible families and individuals facing eviction, homelessness, or loss of housing due to domestic violence or hazardous living conditions. This supplement would bridge the gap between the current shelter allowance and the 85% of fair market value as determined by HUD.
Under the state's current programs, we pay three times the proposed cost of HSS, all the while seeing homelessness rates continue to grow. Ever since the 2011-2012 State Budget lowered the State's share of public assistance costs, this burden has fallen largely on our counties and property taxpayers. HSS would help to change this, and that's why we invite you to join our growing coalition and urge the state to include HSS in the next budget.