NYALL2021-02-01T12:52:47-05:00

Report From The Hill

Commentary

RESIGNATION

Governor Cuomo has resigned his office effective August 24th to be replaced by Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul, a lawyer­ and former congresswoman from upstate, regarded as a moderate, who has announced she will seek a full term as governor, reform the ethics profile of government, foreswear the hostile atmosphere of her predecessor and place the state on a path to renewal.

Her obstacles to election are formidable: how she gets on with Senate President Pro Tempore, Andrea-Stewart Cousins, and Speaker Carl Heastie; can she win a primary challenge in June 2022; can she stand up to the state’s formidable public unions; will she alienate upstate voters when she starts moving left to enhance her chances downstate; and perhaps least, can she govern in a veto proof legislature filled with progressives whose policies may rankle upstate voters?

In filing for his retirement at $50,000 per year, any pending or future charges against him may be dropped either by a politically self-interested cabal who’d rather govern without reminding voters of the sexual harassment accusations that forced him from office or because existing law may provide escape hatches that allow resignation to vitiate any punishment.

New York’s political climate – messy and sordid – may distract the public from the significant effect of climate change driven policies that align NY with the goals of the Paris Climate Accord and alarmist characterizations of the recent United Nations report.

Legislation passed in 2019- Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act and the proposed Climate and Community Investment Act (S.4372/A.1168) – a carbon tax with significant financial impacts on all fuels – seek targets for achieving carbon reductions by unrealistic deadlines, which may either be modified or result in fines for non-attainment.  These appears to be an amalgam of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, and carbon tax proposals typically invoked to mitigate the social cost of negative externalities.

The New York State Energy and Research Administration and the department of environmental conservation and other sympathetic organizations (just two private sector parties, National Fuel Gas and the Independent Power Producers of NY (IPPNY)) have formed the Climate Action Council to determine implementation without first completing the benefit/cost analysis required by law and has deflected calls for the study.  Such studies of public expenditures usually can rely on a accurate cost assessment with benefits more elusive – roads and other infrastructure, an exception – but determining the benefit of slowing climate change would require a conclusion that would withstand scrutiny by nonpartisan, disinterested analysts and unlikely to produce the consensus  needed to justify the staggering costs of these proposals,

Even the sponsor acknowledged in floor debate the tentative dates for achieving the carbon reduction goals adding most of those present wouldn’t be alive to see if the program worked and therefore not face any consequences from the electorate.

August 21, 2021|

Latest Report from the Hill

Several bills of interest were amended or referred to committees for review.

A-1451 – A – The sponsor has replaced the flat version – A-1451 – with one of the earlier prints introduced over the last four year, retaining many of the confusing language and none of the partial improvements from the senate version introduced 3 years ago by Sen. Tedisco.  The measure effectively allows a propane consumer to solely determine if an emergency exists and a dealer, not the owner of the tank, to supply fuel.  The bill suffers from the same deficiencies as the original hurriedly past in 2017 despite its garbled language and logic.

s- 2522 – Increases the top income tax rate to capture additional revenue on low-taxed investment income.  This may be one of the tax increases to close the state’s budget gap regardless of the amount of any federal allocation to NY. It references the IRS code.

S- 2833 – An additional tax on business income by off-setting the federal undertaxation [sic] of corporate profits and pass-through business income as a result of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.  NY’s tax code is coupled to parts of the IRS code; this looks like a decouple.

Bills introduced this week.

S – 2746, S – 2747, S – 2748, S – 2752, S – 2753.  These implement separate items from a report of the Office of Court Administration to protect consumers from contract terms that may favor the stronger party by limiting prerogatives of companies and expanding remedies of delinquent customers.  These measures have been around for many years and passage would certainly clog the court dockets.  The “report” predicts “unclog.”

The New York Attorney General, Lititia James has dropped a political bomb on the 2nd floor (a synecdoche for the governor’s office) in a report on the number of Covid deaths among the elderly at hospitals and nursing homes, in excess of what had been reported by the NYS Department of Public Health.  This discrepancy was widely known but not quantified because the department would not respond to FOIL requests submitted by several groups with some threatening legal action in the courts.

The AG’s report places considerable responsibility on the nursing homes themselves who have maintained the governor applied pressure to force the return of hospitalized patients with Covid- 19 to crowded and ill-equipped facilities.  Families of the deceased have been extremely distressed and now have the data and information to pursue legal action placing the governor in political jeopardy.  The tort bar has a clear path to sue nursing homes who have insurance but sought and failed to get indemnified in federal legislation.  The AG’s office has been a stop on the way to the governor office: Andrew Cuomo, Eliot Spitzer in recent years, and garnered enough political profile to attract funds to mount a race like former AG Robert Abrams.

 

January 29, 2021|
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