City Bar 2013 State Legislative Roundup

The City Bar has wrapped up an active State legislative session, during which our committees issued or reissued 85 reports proposing new legislation and commenting on pending legislation or proposed agency rules. We’ve responded to tragedies and controversies, supporting measures to strengthen New York’s gun laws and calling on the legislature to bring about necessary campaign finance reforms. We provided comments on a number of provisions of the 2013-2014 NYS Budget, which included a $15 million increase in funding for civil legal services. Once again, we opposed the enactment of measures which would harm New York consumers by expanding the ability of dubious debt settlement agencies and payday lenders to operate in the state.  And we supported the Women’s Equality Act, a 10-point plan aimed at providing women the opportunity to participate fully and equally in society, including by codifying the protections of Roe v. Wade and strengthening anti-trafficking and pay equity laws.

We are pleased to report that, as of this writing, 15 bills supported by the City Bar passed both houses of the legislature.  Some of these bills have been enacted, while others still await signature by the Governor:

  • The Legal Problems of the Aging Committee supported the Uniform Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act, which will provide a mechanism for resolving multi-state jurisdictional disputes as they relate to adult guardianships cases.
  • The Sex and Law Committee supported legislation which will require local services districts to notify the Office of Children and Family Services and family services providers where there is a change in eligibility level so that families can better plan their child care needs.
  • The State Courts of Superior Jurisdiction Committee supported a bill proposed by the Office of Court Administration which will help prevent abuse during the discovery process by permitting non-parties who are not actually served with a subpoena, but whose records are nevertheless sought by the subpoena, to seek a protective order. (Enacted)
  • The Construction Law Committee supported a bill which will ensure that contractors on NYC School Construction Authority jobs do not unknowingly waive their claim rights.
  • The Corrections and Community Reentry Committee and Criminal Courts Committee supported a bill to give judges greater discretion in ordering probationary sentences and eliminate the requirement of pre-sentence investigations in limited circumstances.
  • The Housing and Urban Development Committee supported a measure that will grant greater eligibility for admission to certain limited profit housing company housing accommodations.
  • The Animal Law Committee had another productive year, authoring reports in support of three bills that were passed by the legislature, which will (1) allow municipalities to better regulate pet dealers; (2) ban shark fins for sale or possession (enacted); and (3) increase penalties for harming a police animal (enacted).
  • The Trusts, Estates and Surrogate’s Courts Committee issued reports on four bills passed by the legislature, which will (1) deal with the tax treatment of trusts created for surviving spouses who are not U.S. citizens; (2) clarify the application of the anti-lapse statute to multi-generational gifts (enacted); (3) clarify the law in relation to partial tax abatements for certain residential real property held in trust (enacted); and (4) allow a resigning fiduciary to file an informal judicial accounting under certain circumstances.
  • The Non-Profit Organizations Committee voiced its support for the Non-Profit Revitalization Act, which remedies many of the weaknesses in the current nonprofit law and strengthens New York law to enhance governance and accountability by setting forth clearer expectations of board duties.  A number of the Committee’s drafting recommendations were included in the measure that passed the legislature.

We also are pleased to report that two legislative proposals drafted by our committees were introduced in the legislature this year.  The first, developed by the Banking Law Committee, would create a statewide program to provide temporary and repayable mortgage bridge loans to homeowners facing a sudden loss of income.  The second is an overhaul of the state’s Uniform Commercial Code, on which the Commercial Law and Uniform State Laws Committee is working with the New York State Uniform Laws Commission.

It is worth noting that our committees’ state level work was matched by an equally productive year on the city and federal levels.  Notably, 27 of our committees contributed to an extensive report of policy recommendations for New York City’s next mayor, which was complimented by a public forum featuring the mayoral candidates that was held in June.  At the federal level, the City Bar once again participated in the ABA’s annual lobby day in Washington, DC where we voiced our opposition to reducing funding for the Legal Services Corporation and our support for reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.  Our Immigration and Nationality Law Committee has provided timely and extensive comments on federal immigration reform proposals, addressing and proposing amendments for various versions of the bills.

To learn more about these or any other legislative activities at the City Bar, please follow us on Twitter and Facebook and visit our Legislative Affairs webpage.