Albany Update on the Legislative Session
With only four weeks left of the 2016 Legislative Session the remaining weeks will be a busy time in Albany. NYSAC continues to advocate for counties to ensure new programs place no additional financial burdens on county property taxpayers.
During these remaining scheduled legislative days, NYSAC's key priorities continue to be:
9-1-1 Funding Gets National Attention
- Chapter Amendment for District Attorney Salaries
- Increase funding for 9-1-1 Emergency Communications
- Indigent Defense Funding
The lack of necessary funding to maintain and upgrade 9-1-1 emergency communication centers and services received national attention this week, when the Last Week Tonight with John Oliver show covered 9-1-1 services. The clip from the show can be found on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-XlyB_QQYs
Recently, Assemblyman John McDonald, who represents parts of Albany, Saratoga, and Rensselaer counties introduced legislation A10178, which relates to a public safety communications surcharges on prepaid wireless telecommunications services and to wireless surcharges in certain counties. This bill would reduce the surcharge of $1.20 per month on 9-1-1 Public Safety on contracted cell phones and apply a lower $1.00 per month surcharge on all devices capable of connecting to 9-1-1 as well as giving all counties the authority to apply a local surcharge dedicated solely to 9-1-1 emergency communication centers.
Under current law, the State imposes a $1.20 Public Safety Surcharge on all contracted wireless cell phones in order to fund 9-1-1 operations. Under Section 186-F of the Tax Law, $.50 goes into the State's General Fund and the remaining $.70 goes to a variety of public safety programs. In 2015, the state collected $185 million and provided only $75 million in grants to selected counties for 9-1-1 equipment.
NYSAC encourages county officials to call your State Senator(s) and Assemblymember(s) to express your support of this proposal of strengthening our emergency communication network Statewide.
Legislative Measures Would Reimburse Counties for DA Salary Increases
The NYS Commission on Legislative, Judicial and Executive Compensation voted to recommend an increase in state salaries in 2016 and 2018. These recommendations became law on April 1, 2016.
State law links District Attorney salaries to judicial salaries. Historically, when the State has adjusted the judicial salaries, it has reimbursed counties for the increase in DA salaries through the State Budget. This year, that did not happen.
NYSAC and the District Attorneys Association have requested the State Legislature pass legislation to reimburse counties for the increases associated with the recent state judicial salary increase.
Bills have been introduced (S7408A, Young; A10152-A Gunther) would provide for state reimbursement for the DA salary increase.
Recognizing that the DA salary increase is a new state mandated cost to counties, NYSAC urges you to contact your state representative to support an agreed upon bill that gets passed and sent tothe Governor to be enacted into law.
Indigent Defense Services Poised for Expansion
On April 4, 2016 the NYS Office of Indigent Legal Services (OILS) issued new guidelines that will significantly expand eligibility for public provided defense attorneys in both criminal and family court.The new guidelines would double the take home income eligibility from 125% to 250% of the federal poverty level, or nearly $30,000 for individuals and $62,000 for defendants with a family of four. These guidelines stem from the state's settlement of the Hurrell v. Herring lawsuit settlement between the NYS ACLU and five counties and the State of New York.
County leaders are concerned that these changes will significantly increase the cost of this state mandated expense, and have asked (OILS) to:
1) Delay implementation until April 1, 2017 in order for this action to be in line with the State budget cycle;
2) Use the delayed implementation time to get a more accurate account of how this change will impact community payers and providers, and discuss this change in the context of greater reform efforts.
In the meantime, two separate pieces of legislation (S. 6341A, DeFrancisco and A.6202C, Fahy) would provide for a phased in takeover of the costs of county indigent legal defense services. These bill will have to be negotiated in both houses and agreed upon before it can be sent to the Governor for his enactment.
NYS DEC Emergency Adoption to Classify PFOA as a Hazardous Substance
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) filed a Notice of Emergency Adoption and Proposed Rule Making with the New York State Department of State on April 25, 2016 to classify perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA-acid), ammonium perfluorooctanoate (PFOA-salt), perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS-acid), and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS-salt) as hazardous substances at the request of the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH).
This rule making also provides time for facilities storing fire-fighting foam containing one or more of these newly listed hazardous substances to properly dispose of it and provides time for firefighting operations to find replacement foams. This proposal also corrects the tables of hazardous substances by providing units for reportable quantities.
The emergency adoption is temporary and the proposed rule provides for the amendments to become permanent upon adoption. DEC will receive written comments on the amendments to through July 8, 2016.
There are upcoming legislative public hearings to receive public comment on the proposed amendments. Prior to each hearing, a public availability session will also be held from 1:00 PM - 1:45 PM at the same location.
Monday, June 27, 2016 at 2:00 PM
Empire State Plaza, Meeting Room 6, Albany, NY 12242
Tuesday, June 28, 2016 at 2:00 PM
RIT Inn and Conference Center, 5257 W. Henrietta Road, Henrietta, NY 14467
Thursday, June 30, 2016 at 2:00 PM
Nassau Community College, One Education Drive, Garden City, NY 11530
All documents and related information pertaining to this rule making are available here on DEC's website. This includes how to submit written comments.