2012 Legislative Wrap-up

The 2012 legislative session wrapped up on time and without much fanfare on June 21st, and with it the City Bar saw significant progress on many of the bills its committees proposed or supported. City Bar committees issued 32 new and updated legislative reports over the past six months, in addition to continuing to advocate for prior existing positions. The bills listed below passed both houses of the Legislature and now await action by the Governor:

  • In the wake of the Salander O’Reilly Galleries bankruptcy in 2007, the Art Law Committee proposed legislation to clarify and strengthen the trust provisions that govern the relationship between an artist-consignor and merchant-consignee under Articles 11 and 12 of the New York Arts and Cultural Affairs Law.
  • The Committees on Professional Responsibility, Arbitration and Alternative Dispute Resolution proposed legislation to address a deficiency in Judiciary Law Sections 475 and 475-a, which govern an attorney’s ability to attach a charging lien to a client’s monetary recovery. The legislation affords attorneys the same fee protections in settlements and ADR-resolved cases as are available to attorneys in court-filed cases.
  • The Domestic Violence Committee supported legislation that would address the problem of repeat domestic violence offenders by creating a crime of aggravated family offense. This legislation was passed as part of an omnibus bill aimed at protecting domestic violence victims.
  • The Animal Law Committee supported legislation that would ban the use of a cage or box dryer containing a heating element if the heating element is turned on “for the purpose of drying or aiding in the drying of a companion animal.”
  • The City Bar also supported a number of measures that were enacted into law as part of the Executive Budget, including the All-Crimes DNA bill; the “Close to Home” initiative for New York City’s lower risk youth; and the inclusion of $25 million in the Judiciary Budget for civil legal services.

Our committees are active in opposing and/or suggesting modifications to legislation as well.  Below are a series of bills our committees opposed this session that were ultimately not enacted:

  • Legislation which would provide for vacating of an arbitration award on the ground that the arbitrator was affiliated with a party, or has a financial interest in a party or the outcome. While the Committee on Arbitration found the intent of the bill laudable, it called for a number of changes to the bill. The bill has since been amended.
  • The Civil Court Committee and Consumer Affairs Committee opposed a bill that would, among other things, allow for-profit entities to obtain licenses to operate as debt settlement companies. After much study, the Committees concluded that debt settlement companies do not, as the bill’s Justification suggests, “help consumers regain their financial footing,” but instead cause net financial loss and lasting financial harm to consumers.
  • The Civil Rights and Education Law Committee opposed a measure that would allow for religious meetings and worship services to occur on school sites, due to the overbroad nature of the legislation and the potential for Establishment Clause violations.
  • The Criminal Courts Committee and Corrections and Community Reentry Committee opposed ‘Brittany’s Law,’ which would create a registry for all violent felony offenders in the state, similar to New York’s registry for sex offenders. The bill was modeled almost verbatim on the original version of New York’s Sex Offender Registration Act, which was found unconstitutional in 1998.
  • The Matrimonial Law Committee opposed a bill regarding the notification of certain relatives prior to the placement of children in foster care. The Committee supported the overall justification for the bill, but believed it may lead to a host of unintended and potentially deleterious consequences, including infringing upon a parent’s right to raise his/her child.
  • The Insurance Law Committee provided suggested modifications to a bill that would authorize domestic excess line insurance companies. While the Committee supports the concept of the bill, it believes a number of changes need to be made in order to ensure these companies are properly regulated and function as intended.
  • The Committee on Aging opposed provisions in the Executive Budget that would have eliminated Medicaid spousal refusal rules and expanded the definition of the Medicaid Estate, provisions that were ultimately removed from the Budget.

Turning to the off-session, the City Bar will continue its work on several proposals and legislative agenda items, including: amendments to provide clarity and consistency in the definition and treatment of guide, hearing and service dogs; a long-overdue overhaul of New York’s Uniform Commercial Code; the institution of a statewide program to provide mortgage bridge loans to homeowners under certain circumstances; a measure to seal court records involving cases dismissed at arraignment or earlier; and amendments clarifying that the statutory limitations period governing a contractor’s claim rights does not begin to accrue until such time as a request for payment has been denied in writing. This is just a sampling of our committees’ legislative activity. For more information on the City Bar’s policy positions, please refer to our 2012 Legislative Program. You can also visit our Legislative Affairs webpage and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for updates on our advocacy efforts.