County Perspective for January 10, 2019
This week's state and federal news for NY's county officials.
Connect at the 2019 Legislative Conference
With an aggressive agenda being waged by State Lawmakers in Albany this year, we encourage you attend the NYSAC Legislative Conference and make your county's voice heard.
to register today.
Hotel Registration Deadline: January 17!
Conference Registration Deadline: January 22.
Conference Preview: Open Meetings Law
Bob Freeman, Executive Director for the Committee on Open Government, recently joined Patrick Cummings, NYSAC Counsel, on the NYSAC Podcast to preview the upcoming Legislative Conference workshop, New York's Open Meetings Laws: Bringing Sunlight to the Often-Misunderstood Practice
Listen to the podcast here.
Be there for this and all the other cutting-edge conference workshops!
NYSAC Releases Legislative Priorities
Decisions made in the State Capitol this year, will have a direct impact on the ability of local governments to provide and pay for essential public services in our communities.
As such, NYSAC's 2019 Legislative Program represents not only the needs of our counties, but also the concerns of property taxpayers across this state.
NYSAC's key county priority continues to be reducing the high property tax burden on New Yorkers through mandate relief.
Within that top concern, NYSAC's 2019 Legislative Program and Platform include priorities within 19 policy areas. Our state advocacy platform is broad because of our wide-ranging mandated responsibilities.
View the two-page NYSAC Legislative program here.
For in-depth policy analysis, view the NYSAC Policy Platform here.
New NYSAC Whitepapers
Governor's State of the State and Budget Release Scheduled for January 15th
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo today announced that he will deliver his annual State of the State address and unveil his budget proposal next Tuesday in Albany. While he has indicated several federal-level agenda items, a number of State level priorities will have an impact on counties, including legalizing marijuana, changing voting laws, Internet sales taxes, sports gaming, and making the tax cap permanent. NYSAC will join county leaders on January 15th
and we will provide updates to county leaders as more detail becomes available.
2019 NYS Legislative Session is Underway
State lawmakers were in Albany yesterday for swearing-in ceremonies and the first official day of the 2019 Legislative Session. Lawmakers will be back in Albany on Monday and Tuesday.
Election Reform Package
State lawmakers are expected to take up an election reform package when they return to Albany on Monday to begin considering legislation for this year's session. We have reason to believe that legislators are expected to act on an election reform package. The details of this legislation are still unknown at this time. NYSAC's position, which has been included in our 2019 Legislative Platform, is included below. In addition to this statement, please find an early voting whitepaper and fact sheet on our website at https://www.nysac.org/intergovernment
Any election reform package must include:
Making the Tax Cap Permanent
- “No Excuse” Absentee Ballot Solution. Counties believe that the most cost-effective alternative to this proposal is to implement a new “no excuse” absentee ballot application, so that registered voters who are unable to vote on election day, for any reason, can vote by absentee ballot. Counties support this constitutional amendment.
- Combine the State and Federal Primaries. This is an unfunded mandate. Counties support returning the federal and state primaries back to the same day.
- Early Voting Reform. Any efforts to institute early voting reforms must be coupled with full funding from New York State for counties to implement this law.
This week, the Governor and Senate Majority Leader renewed their call to make the property tax cap permanent, and county leaders across the state need to ask their representatives: “Where's the mandate relief?”
When the State Legislature voted for the property tax cap in 2011, they stood on the floor and pledged to pass mandate relief. Eight years later and there is not one state mandate that costs less than it did in 2011. In fact, the cost of state mandates keep rising, and state lawmakers keep enacting more mandates.
NYSAC delegates attending the 2019 Legislative Conference will be taking up a resolution asking State Leaders to reduce the cost of state mandates and ban the enactment of future before they take a vote to make the tax cap permanent.
The following hearings relevant to county government are scheduled over the coming months:
Recycling (NYSAC to present testimony)
January 23rd, 11am
Roosevelt Hearing Room C, Legislative Office Building, 2nd Floor, Albany, New York
Shared Services (NYSAC to submit testimony)
Arbitration Ruling Requires Seneca Nation to Continue Gaming-Related Payments to the State
On January 8, a three-member arbitration panel ruled in favor of New York State, requiring that the Seneca Nation continue making annual payments to the State for a share of their gaming revenue as per the gaming compact between the Nation and the State.
These payments have not been made since April 2017, and counties have not been receiving a share of these revenues from the State, as per State Law. Since this time, more than $50 million per year has not been allocated to 16 Western New York counties.
NYSAC anticipates that this decision will result in restoration of this revenue stream to these counties. NYSAC has been informed that there will be retroactive payments, but we do not yet know when they may be released. We will keep our members updated when the specific arbitration decision is publicly released.
The Federal Budget Shutdown & Food Assistance
There has been significant concern raised by many regarding the impact of a prolonged government shutdown on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and funding, as well as other nutrition assistance programs.
As of this reporting, states have been notified by the USDA that additional resources have been identified to fully fund SNAP benefits through February. The USDA will be reaching out to states to implement this strategy, which includes having states seek an early issuance of SNAP benefits for February by seeking federal funding authorization by January 20, 2019. In addition, other child nutrition programs including WIC and school lunches have funding authorized through February.
No federal plans have been released regarding what happens if the shutdown extends past February. Counties will continue to monitor the situation and work with state and federal officials to ensure benefits are provided and sufficient administrative and financial support is provided to counties to facilitate the continuation of these programs.
Correspondence to states from the USDA can be found at: https://www.fns.usda.gov/pressrelease/2019/000319
and USDA memo to SNAP state agencies: https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/be6423_2388dfcdda844430b30ae6f88bbd2507.pdf
Shark Tank for County Government
Suffolk County is inviting businesses that work with counties to attend a February 4th
“shark tank” type forum designed to attract ideas to improve the delivery of services, reduce costs, and make the county more efficient. For more information click here. [link to PDF.]