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BNP Advocacy Insider – February 2022

Kristine Hilsdorf

February 10, 2022

Feb.22 Advocacy Insider

NYS Ends Mask Mandate 

Governor Kathy Hochul announced an end to the state’s mask mandate, and Erie County Executive Poloncarz followed suit. Masks are still required in certain settings like healthcare facilities. After the BNP pushed for clarity on how this coincides with the NY HERO Act’s mask mandate, the state relaxed the HERO Act’s masking standards to match Hochul’s announcement.  

Learn more on our blog.  

Hochul Releases Executive Budget 

Governor Kathy Hochul released her first Executive Budget proposal, kicking off months of negotiations with the Legislature. The BNP is particularly encouraged by her budget’s focus on workforce issues. However, there are many issues on which the proposal falls short of our region’s needs. The BNP will remain in discussion with our legislative partners on the budget over the next two months. To learn more, visit our “Where We Stand” report.  

SCOTUS Blocks Vax-or-Test Mandate 

In the fall, President Biden released a rule that would have mandated employers with 100 or more employees require vaccination or weekly COVID-19 testing. However, the rule faced numerous lawsuits, which ended up in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court recently issued a temporary stay, meaning the rule will not be enforced. Learn more on our blog.  

Extended Producer Responsibility Act Close to Reality 

Governor Hochul has proposed enacting the Extended Producer Responsibility Act in her Executive Budget. This legislation would force manufacturers to foot the bill for municipal recycling programs, making their operations more expensive and increasing the cost of consumer goods.  

The BNP and a coalition of 35 other organizations sent a letter to the Legislature explaining our concerns. To learn more and join the fight, visit here.  

Good Cause Eviction Proposals Looming 

Upon the expiration of the state’s eviction moratorium, there have been calls to pass New York’s “Good Cause Eviction” legislation. The idea has also gained traction locally, with the Buffalo Common Council passing a resolution in support of the state bill.  

To learn more about this legislation and contact lawmakers about it, click here.  

Single-Payer Proposal Looming in Albany 

The author of the New York Health Act announced his plans to retire at the end of the year, creating new momentum behind the single-payer proposal. The BNP has made clear our concerns with this legislation.  

A coalition of concerned businesses has formed to educate and advocate on this legislation. To get involved and join the coalition, visit their site.  

Hochul Proposal Fails to Address UI Crisis 

Despite widespread calls from the BNP and others in the business community, Gov. Hochul’s Executive Budget did not include any provision to protect employers from Unemployment Insurance rate hikes. New York received historic aid from the federal government and could use it to pay down the UI system’s debt, but leaders have failed to address this issue.  

Tell Gov. Hochul: this year’s budget needs to protect employers from UI rate increases.  

Climate Action Council Releases Scoping Plan, Accepting Comments 

When New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act was signed into law in 2019, it established a mandate for the most ambitious greenhouse gas reductions of any major economy. It also called for the formation of a Climate Action Council to create a scoping plan outlining specific actions the State must take to comply with the law. 

The Draft Scoping Plan was released on Dec. 30, 2021, and its recommendations, if approved and implemented, promise a complete overhaul of the state’s energy economy – with major impacts on transportation, buildings, electricity, industry, agriculture and more – including a near-total ban on the use of natural gas by residents and businesses. 

What would change for NYS residents and businesses? 

  • Near-total ban on natural gas use in homes and businesses:Arguably, the most significant change for state residents and businesses is the proposed elimination of natural gas utility service for heating, cooking, water heating and almost all other longstanding home and business uses. Natural gas appliances and equipment would also be prohibited, beginning in 2030. 
  • An estimated conversion cost of $20,000 – $50,000 per household: According to CAC consultants, the cost to convert a typical home from natural gas to all-electric with necessary efficiency upgrades, is between $20,000 and $50,000. 
  • Elimination of natural gas efficiency incentives, including National Fuel’s Conservation Incentive Program: With the banning of natural gas appliances and equipment, the Draft Plan calls for the elimination of appliance rebate programs despite the fact that they’ve helped achieve significant reduction of emissions while also saving consumers money. 
  • Statewide ban on gasoline-powered vehicles:The Scoping Plan calls for prohibiting the sale of gasoline-powered cars and trucks in New York State by 2035 and imposing a fee on such sales leading up to 2035 to help incentivize the transition. 

Register for weekly updates on the NYS energy transition at fuelingtomorrowtoday.com. 

  • Innovation Legislation Advances 

The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed the America COMPETES Act, its the version of the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act passed earlier by the Senate. This legislation includes many important investments in research, innovation, manufacturing, and higher education.   

Now the real work begins as the House and Senate must come together to hammer out the differences between the two proposals and vote on common language.  One of the most significant differences is the funding of several regional technology hubs designed to establish centers of research and innovation in places around the country not traditionally associated with the tech sector. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer has promised to locate a tech hub in Western New York if this provision is included in the final package.  The BNP sees funding for tech hubs as a significant opportunity for our region. 

As the House and Senate continue to reconcile their differences, we continue to urge our delegation to provide funding for a regional tech hub in Buffalo Niagara.