Stephen J. Acquario
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Stephen J. Acquario, Executive Director
 
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October 18, 2018
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State and Federal updates, resources for county leaders, and more.
NYSAC

NYSAC Testifies on Family Court Representation
On October 10, the NYS Office Unified Court Commission on Parental Legal Representation held a hearing in Albany to determine the best path forward in the future of Family Court representation. In Family Court, for matters that can impact child custody, NY counties provide parents and guardians with legal representation if they cannot afford counsel. NYSAC was invited to provide testimony in this matter due to the county government playing an integral role in the Family Court system.
 
In the testimony, NYSAC Executive Director Stephen Acquario supported efforts to strengthen the current system but stressed this cannot be achieved fiscally on the backs of county government.  Acquario encouraged the State to follow the model from Hurrell-Harring v. State to strengthen its constitutionally-mandated parental representation system and for the State to provide funding for any required increased costs.
 
 
Save the Date: NYSAC Legislative Conference
January 29-31, 2019
Desmond Hotel & Conference Center, Albany
 
The NYSAC Legislative Conference will bring tools and knowledge designed to help you advocate for your county throughout the 2019 NYS Legislative Session. Learn about the latest public policy considerations impacting counties, gain strategies to effectively advocate for local needs, and connect with county leaders from throughout the state.
 
The Legislative Conference includes standing committee meetings (where NYSAC policy positions and resolutions are discussed and adopted), educational workshops, training for newly elected county officials, opportunities to meet private sector partners, and keynote addresses by experts at the forefront of local government.
 
Interested in exhibiting at or sponsoring the Legislative Conference? Learn how.
View photos from the 2018 Legislative Conference.

Fall Seminar Presentations Online
Last month's Fall Seminar brought NYSAC members several policy updates and issue expertise.
The PowerPoint presentations from conference workshops are now up online, and  can be viewed here .

FEDERAL  UPDATE

NYSAC Analysis: Federal Legislation Addresses the Opioid Epidemic
Counties in New York State are the front-line defense and combat force to respond to this epidemic. Our local health, human services and law enforcement agencies are responding to this crisis every day.
 
At the Federal level, Congress has been exploring ways to assist states and local governments. On October 3, 2018, Congress took action. Both houses resolved differences between H.R. 6 and S. 2680, sending the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, the single largest piece of legislation addressing the opioid and heroin epidemic, to the President for his signature. Language from many bills that had been introduced in the House and Senate to combat this crisis have been included in this legislation.
 
NYSAC has compiled a legislative analysis of the major provisions included in the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act. 


NACo is hosting a webinar on this legislation on Friday, October 19.  Details here. 

See NYSAC's resources on Battling the Opioid Crisis in Our Counties.

STATE UPDATE

Local Sales Tax Collections Remain Strong
For the quarter ending September, county sales tax collections remained strong in nearly every county. Higher general inflation is contributing, led by gasoline prices about 16% higher in 2018 than the same period in 2017.  Another major category of spending experiencing inflationary growth is dining out, with prices 2.6 percent higher than they were 12 months ago.  In addition to higher general inflation, a strong economy, high consumer confidence, low unemployment, stronger wage growth and higher take home pay from federal tax cuts are all accruing to the improved bottom line in local sales tax collections. 

This is a welcome turnaround after many years of very sluggish sales tax growth across much of upstate New York, with New York City and surrounding counties faring better in recent years on that revenue front. For the first nine months of 2018, aggregate county sales tax collections are up 5.3 percent.  This bodes well for cities, towns and villages as most counties share their sales tax with these municipalities to help them provide local services and to keep their property taxes lower. It is expected that counties will  share nearly $2 billion in county sales tax with their local government partners in 2018.  

To Legalize Marijuana or Not? Some Pressing Policy Concerns
Marijuana is the most widely used illegal drug in the United States. Since Governor Andrew Cuomo' office and the State Department of Health are currently hosting regional public hearings on the topic of legalizing marijuana in New York State, we expect that state lawmakers will be debating the legalization issue in the 2019 Legislative Session. To date, nine states have legalized cannabis for adult recreational use. This week, Canada will become the second country in the world to legalize cannabis, after Uruguay.
 
Moving marijuana out of the unregulated black market will impact public health, public safety, criminal justice, the economy, and the environment in New York State's counties.
NYSAC this week published a report that considers the challenges and opportunities counties can expect in the wake of legalization. The report, Making Marijuana Legal In New York State?, is designed to help inform member county leaders about some of the most relevant policy discussions on this topic.
 
State Releases Required Sexual Harassment Prevention Policies
On Monday, October 1, 2018, New York State's Department of Labor ("DOL") in coordination with the Division of Human Rights ("DHR") released final versions of the state's model sexual harassment prevention documents for all employers.

The new policies went into effect on October 9, 2018. With respect to policies and training, the amended law will require all employers (including counties) to: (1) ensure their anti-sexual harassment policies contain new, state-mandated language, (2) maintain a standardized complaint form for employees to report sexual harassment, which may be included in the model policy, and (3) conduct sexual harassment prevention training annually, and ensure that the training meets the state's new standards for sexual harassment prevention.  
The final State Policy documents are available on the state's website here: https://www.ny.gov/combating-sexual-harassment-workplace/employers.

NYSAC is planning a webinar that will provide more updates and details, and we will notify county officials as soon as that presentation is scheduled. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact NYSAC Counsel Patrick Cummings at pcummings@nysac.org.

State to Set Maximum Contaminate Levels for Drinking Water
The NYS Drinking Water Quality Council met on Wednesday in Albany and New York City to discuss setting maximum contaminate levels (MCLs) for PFOA, PFOS, and 1,4 dioxane. NYSAC supports setting MCLs to preserve and protect the water quality in our state. Read the NYSAC press release.

The Drinking Water Quality Council will announce a MCL at their next meeting, scheduled to take place before the end of the year.

State Comptroller Releases New York's Federal Balance of Payments Report
New York State Comptroller DiNapoli released the state's Balance of Payments report with the federal government for federal fiscal year 2017. The report analyzes how much federal tax New Yorkers send to Washington DC versus how much the state receives back in all forms of federal spending. For 2017, according to the report, New York contributed over $24 billion more to Washington then it received back in federal payments.  Any negative balance with the federal government is viewed as a drag on a state's GDP. New York is one of eleven states that has a negative balance with the federal government.

New York's per capita federal return for 2017 was in the negative, at ($1,216).  For all 50 states combined the average per capita federal balance of payments was +$1,873. The surplus funds New York and other "donor" states generate for the federal government are redistributed to the remaining states, where the excess federal funds boosts their respective states' GDP. New York has a long history of contributing more to the federal government than what it gets back in federal payments, and 2017 was no exception. It will be important to see how this federal balance of payments changes for 2018 when the impact of recent federal tax cuts are part of the equation. To view the Comptrollers report please visit: https://www.osc.state.ny.us/reports/budget/2018/federal-budget-fiscal-year-2017.pdf

State Legislation Signed Into Law
The Governor has signed several bills that passed both houses during this past legislative session. NYSAC did not take a position on any of these bills, but more information on these measures can be found in our NYSAC State Legislative Update here.

The bills that were signed into law include measure that:
 
AFFILIATE FOCUS

NYS Association of County Directors of Real Property Tax Services Hold Fall Conference
 
From October 15-17 County Real Property Tax Directors (RPTD) from throughout the state met in Schuyler County for training and education purposes. This successful RPTD Association conference was organized by their outgoing president Thomas Bloodgood, the Schuyler Country RPTD. Education classes included Laura Ayers, Esq. presenting on property law, "paper streets" and adverse possession, as well as a workshop on tax enforcement taught by Joseph Maciejewski, the Erie Country RPTD & James Caflisch, the Chautauqua County RPTD.
 
The conference also included the swearing in of James Kirsch, the Wyoming County Real Property Tax Director. Congratulation to Mr. Kirsch on becoming his new role and congratulations to all the county RPTD's on a successful conference.  
 
Upcoming Intercounty Meetings
NYSAC staff will be attending Intercounty Association meetings around the state. Western Intercounty meets this Friday in Cattaraugus County and Adirondack Intercounty meets next Thursday in Saratoga County. We look forward to seeing many of you there.
TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES

DEC Announces $300,000 for Municipalities for Zero-Emission Vehicles Purchase or Lease
$300,000 is available from the State's Environmental Protection Fund in the form of rebates to municipalities for the purchase or lease of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs). The EV rebate program will be administered by DEC through the New York State Grants Gateway. DEC will accept applications from municipalities for rebates, beginning Wednesday, October 17, 2018 through July 26, 2019. Costs incurred by a municipality, on or after May 1, 2018, to purchase or lease, for at least 36 months, a new ZEV for its fleet are eligible for a rebate of $2,500 for vehicles with a 10- to 50-mile electric range, and $5,000 for vehicles with an electric range of more than 50 miles. Battery electric, plug-in hybrid, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are all eligible.

Department of State Hosting Upcoming Local Government Innovation Event
The Depart of State's Division of Local Government Services will hold its 4th Annual Local Government Innovation Conference on Friday, November 16th in Albany. The DOS program is designed to help enhance local leaders' appreciation for the power of data (both large and small) to impact long-term management.  They will also highlight DOS funding programs, including the Local Government Efficiency Grant and the Municipal Restructuring Fund, that are available to communities across the state.
 
Columbia, South Caroline Mayor Steve Benjamin will present the keynote address. Mayor Benjamin is the President of the US Conference of Mayors.
 
There will be a plenary session that will bring together executives from three upstate cities that will discuss data management and performance, and ways to incorporate data into the management and decision-making processes.
 
For more information, and to register, click here.
 
NYSAC Videos & Podcasts
Our library of videos and podcasts on the issues impacting counties provides an easy way for county leaders to stay up to date on policy and program innovations.

NYSAC PROGRAMS & SERVICES

The County Marketplace
The County Marketplace features our Excelsior and Associate Partners. These companies offer private sector solutions to the governing, management and information challenges facing New York's counties.

To become an Associate Partner, 
click here
To become an Excelsior Partner, 
click here
 
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