Building a Better New York in the Post-COVID World
For more than 100 days, leaders from all levels of government came together and focused on responding to the unprecedented challenges created by the novel coronavirus pandemic. Now, as the worst aspects of the health crisis begin to recede, and New York grapples with a historic economic crisis, we must begin the process of reimaging, rethinking and recalibrating government services.
NYSAC supports a wide swath of bi-partisan legislation aimed at improving service delivery, cutting costs for local property taxpayers and ultimately moving our state forward. We urge the legislature to take action on the following bills:
An Act to Amend S.8091 – Paid Sick Leave
S.8292-A (Rivera) / A.10466-A (Kim)
This legislation would amend Chapter 25 of the Laws of 2020 to provide paid sick leave, family leave, and temporary disability benefits to employees who are subject to precautionary quarantine or isolation upon recommendation of a health care practitioner. It would also require the attending practitioner to notify the local health department in a timely manner.
S.7810 (Kennedy) / A.8251 (Lupardo)
This legislation establishes a program to transfer revenue from two mandatory surcharges (sections 1809-C and 1809-e VTL) for alcohol and other drug-related traffic offenses to county administered STOP-DWI Programs. The $25 surcharge under VTL 1809-c would be directed to counties to be used exclusively for drugged driving training and enforcement.
In 2022, this legislation would transfer the $170 surcharge under VTL 1809-e to the counties to be used for STOP-DWI programs. In 2023, the remainder of the surcharge under VTL 1809-e would be transferred to the counties for STOP-DWI programs.
This legislation is critical to helping improve the integrity of the STOP-DWI program, which has seen its funding significantly reduced, and would result in approximately $6.825 million being redirected from the state general fund to the county STOP-DWI programs—the original purpose of these surcharges.
Sharing DD-214 Form with Counties
S.7051-A (Brooks) / A.8002-A (Jean-Pierre)
This bill was drafted by the association and mandates that the State Division of Veteran Affairs provide a copy of a veteran's DD-214 form upon discharge to the county veteran service agency in the county in which the veteran resides. This legislation will allow county veteran service agencies the ability to coordinate and triage federal and state benefits for the veteran population returning home from service.
Reforming Handicapping Conditions with Disabilities
S.7650 (Mayer) / A.10020 (Benedetto)
This bill was introduced by Senator Mayer and Assemblyman Benedetto following the NYSAC Standing Committee on Children with Special Needs committee meeting at the Legislative Conference in January. This legislation is a priority bill of NYSAC's and the bill provides for changing statute references of “handicapping conditions” to “disabilities.” NYSAC continues to urge the legislature to advance this bill during this legislative session.
Modifying the Retiree Earnings Cap for Public Health Staff During COVID-19 Pandemic
S.8126 (Harckham) / A.10204 (Buchwald)
This legislation is a NYSAC priority and a bill that the association drafted. This legislation removes the public employee retiree earnings cap for public health staff that are brought out of retirement and return to county service to provide vital public health services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
EMS / Vol. Firefighter Property Tax Credits
S.1913 (Gaughran) / A.6712 (Stern)
This legislation amends the real property tax law to allow local governments who have provided a real property tax credit to volunteer firefighters and EMS workers to extend this benefit to volunteer firefighter or ES workers if they provide this service to a neighboring municipality, including school districts. In order to continue to address the lack of volunteer personnel, we encourage the legislature to pass this legislation as one mechanism to help provide incentives for these invaluable services.
EMS/ Vol. Firefighter State Income Tax Credit
S.6802-A (Felder) / A.8817 (Gunther)
This legislation has been championed by the association for decades as a means to help with the recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters and EMS workers. This legislation amends the tax law to increase the volunteer firefighters' and ambulance workers' personal income tax credit from $200 to $500 for eligible individuals and from $400 to $1,000 for eligible married joint filers. Counties have long advocated for legislation that eases the recruitment and retention challenges of our volunteer emergency service organization.
Expansion of EV Rebates for Municipal Fleets
S.5655 (Metzger) / A.7561-A (Woerner)
This legislation will increase the municipal rebate for zero-emission vehicles from a minimum of $750 to $1,500 and a maximum rebate from $5,000 to $7,500. Unfortunately, the current rebate is not large enough to provide for a financial incentive to help municipalities switch their vehicle fleets from gas powered vehicles to eligible vehicles under the zero-emission vehicle rebate program. Furthermore, municipalities are currently ineligible for federal tax incentives for the purchase of zero-emission or hybrid vehicles. Although this increase rebate is nominal, this small change will greatly help municipalities procure electric vehicles for their fleets. Not only will this help municipalities reduce carbon emissions, but this legislation will also help municipalities achieve the overall carbon reduction goals of New York State.
Self-Insured Health Plans
A.310-B (Steck)/S.1408-B (Breslin)
Health insurance costs are among the fastest growing costs for local governments across the state. This legislation would allow counties to bring smaller local governments into their self-insured programs as a way to lower health insurance costs and consolidate a significant back office employee benefits function.
Workers Compensation Group Insurance Plan
A.1952 (Magnarelli) /S.4690 (Biaggi)
This legislation would authorize public entities the option of joining public self-insurance plans (including county self-insurance plans) for their workers' compensation coverage as a way to lower their costs and better manage employee risks. Workers compensation insurance is a significant cost to local governments and property taxpayers. Authorizing county pools to join public group self-insured programs have proven to reduce workers compensation costs and improve risk and claims management for public entities.
Interest Rates on Judgement
This bill requires the New York State's judgement interest rate to be set by the weekly average of the one-year Federal Interest rate. This is an equitable solution that allows parties to appeal matters when justified by legal reasoning and not be forced into settlements based entirely on fiscal pressure. This change would provide mandate relief for local governments and will result in taxpayer savings.
Increase Reimbursement Rates Related to State Arterials
A.5990-A (Rozic)/S.4048-A (Kennedy)
This legislation would increase reimbursement rates paid by the state to cities for the maintenance and repair of highways. This rate has not been increased since 1987. While this proposal does not have a direct impact on counties, we believe that strong cities help make strong counties.
Scaffold Law Reform
A.3737 (McDonald)/S.326 (Akshar)
New York Labor Law §240 and §241, commonly known as the “Scaffold Law” outlines the liability for injuries caused by an employee's fall from a height. New York State is the only state in the country to impose a construction law like the Scaffold Law and is one of a very few laws that imposes strict liability in the State of New York. This legislation would ensure that liability is proportional to fault and greatly reduce burdensome insurance premiums that impact construction projects throughout the state. It would also result in cost savings for counties, as insurance premiums for construction projects would be greatly reduced.
Product Stewardship Program for Primary Batteries
A.4105 (Englebright)/S.2610 (Metzger)
This legislation would authorize New York State to expand its recycling efforts beyond rechargeable batteries to address other types of batteries by requiring battery manufacturers to establish a consumer collection program. According to the Product Stewardship Institute, consumers in the United States purchase over three billion single—use and rechargeable batteries each year—the vast majority of which end up in landfills and waste-to-energy facilities.
Expansion of Article 47
A.513 (Lifton) /S.3622 (Breslin)
Employee health insurance is one of the major cost drivers for local governments across the state. This legislation would expand the types of public organizations that would be allowed to join Article 47 municipal cooperative health insurance plans and lower their taxpayer funded health insurance costs.