County Perspective for February 1, 2019
This week's news for NYS county leaders.
NYSAC UpdateBipartisan Conference of NYS County Leaders Sets Priorities for 2019
Hundreds of county delegates from across the state gathered this week for the New York State Association of Counties' (NYSAC's) 2019 Legislative Conference at the Desmond Hotel in Albany.
Over 600 attendees convened in bipartisan standing committee meetings, training workshops, keynote addresses, and business meetings to develop a series of policy positions on issues that will impact New York State's county governments. County leaders are closely watching and preparing for voting reforms, adult-use marijuana legalization, bail reform, property tax cap permanency, cashless bail, community college funding, and the budget impacts of state-mandated programs.
During the conference, delegates passed a series of 38 policy resolutions in 12 issue areas. These resolutions will become the basis for the NYS Association of Counties (NYSAC's) 2019 advocacy efforts. View the resolutions here: www.nysac.org/resolutions.
"This conference is a great opportunity for all of us to share best practices with each other, engage with state leaders, and stay informed about the significant issues that impact counties," said NYSAC President Charles H. Nesbitt, Orleans County Chief Administrative Officer. "We had several meetings that brought county leaders together from across party lines, from counties rural and urban, from all regions of the state, and we focused on the needs of our communities."
During the event NYSAC members recognized retiring Schenectady County Manager Kathleen Rooney, graduates of the County Government Institute, and the Westchester Board of Legislators - the only county board in New York to have a majority of women legislators.
View a video recap of the conference here.
County Legislative Priorities
NYSAC and county delegates continue to advocate for a series of policies adopted late last year and sent to state lawmakers during the first week of the 2019 Legislative Session.
View the two-page NYSAC Legislative program here.
For in-depth policy analysis, view the NYSAC Policy Platform here.
New NYSAC Whitepapers and Reports
NYSAC's Legislative Staff has published several research reports and fact sheets on the policy considerations impacting counties in 2019. Click on the report title below to view the document.
2019 State of the State and State Budget Release Highlights
Whitepaper: Legalizing Marijuana in New York State [link to newest report]
Whitepaper: Voting Reforms in New York State [link]
2019 Budget Priority Fact Sheets
- Making the Property Tax Cap Permanent
- Marijuana Legalization
- Plastic Bag Ban and Bottle Bill Expansion
- Parental Legal Representation
- County-Wide Shared Services Initiatives
- Internet Tax Conformity and Fairness
- Bail Reform
- ESCO Sales Tax Exemption
- Raising the Age of Criminal Responsibility Update
State UpdateLegislature and Governor Advance Bills, Laws
The New York State Legislature continued advancing legislation through committee and passing legislation quickly. This week, both houses passed a total of 13 same-as bills. These bills have already been or will be delivered to the Governor in the coming days. Of interest to counties, all of the outstanding mortgage recording tax bills which were held up during the end of session last year have passed and are headed to the Governor's office for signature. This has become more frequent in recent times and presents a disturbing trend for local home rule requests. Thankfully the four counties will be able to start collecting their mortgage recording tax again soon.
In addition to these bills, the legislature has also passed a series of gun reform legislation, some of which included a ban on bump stocks, an extension of the background check waiting period, and a red flag law. The legislature also passed the crime victims bill. The crime victims bill allows victims of sexual abuse to file civil lawsuits until they are 55 years old. For adult victims, the legislation includes a look-back window of one year whereby they can file a civil lawsuit as well. On the criminal side, victims would be able to seek felony criminal charges until their 28th birthday and misdemeanor charges until their 25th birthday.
NYSAC will continue watching legislation that impacts counties, with a close eye on items included in the 2019 County Legislative Program.
Federal UpdateWhat's next for the 2020 Census? – NACo Update
A federal district court has held that a question about citizenship may not be included in the 2020 census. The federal government has asked the Supreme Court to rule on this question right away rather than let the Second Circuit weigh in because the census questionnaire must be printed soon. The high court has not yet decided whether to hear this case.
Additional challenges to including this question have been brought but not yet decided.
Judge Jesse Furman summarizes the significance of having an accurate census for state and local governments in his 277-page opinion: “[The census] is used to allocate hundreds of billions of dollars in federal, state and local funds. Even small deviations from an accurate count can have major implications for states, localities, and the people who live in them — indeed, for the country as a whole.”
Census counts are also used for congressional redistricting and for enforcing civil rights laws.
In March 2018, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross issued a memorandum stating he would add the question (for the first time since 1960). He claimed the Department of Justice (DOJ) wanted the data to enforce the Voting Rights Act's prohibition against diluting the voting power of minority groups. A number of state and local governments and nonprofits sued the Secretary claiming that adding this question violates the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The APA prohibits federal agencies from acting in a manner that is arbitrary and capricious or not in accordance with law.
The court found numerous APA violations in the manner in which the question was added to the census. For example, “[Ross] failed to consider several important aspects of the problem; alternately ignored, cherry-picked, or badly misconstrued the evidence in the record before him; acted irrationally both in light of that evidence and his own stated decisional criteria; and failed to justify significant departures from past policies and practices — a veritable smorgasbord of classic, clear-cut APA violations.”
NACo will be hosting several webinars on Federal issues impacting counties. For the full listing, visit https://www.naco.org/resources/programs-and-initiatives/webinars.
Save the Date: 53rd Annual County Finance School
May 1-3, 2019
Sheraton Syracuse University Hotel
Syracuse, New York