By Kelly Hendricken, Albany Government Law Review
Recently, Governor Andrew Cuomo called for a Moreland Act Commission to investigate the response of New York’s power utility companies to Superstorm Sandy. This now established Moreland Commission on Utility and Storm Preparation came after a firestorm of complaints in the wake of the weeks it took for many residents in the Long Island and New York City areas to regain power after the tragedy and devastation of Superstorm Sandy. The Commission has already made some recommendations, which are sure to create much change after this particular public outcry for better regulation and more sanctions for the power companies in charge of restoring power after the widespread damage caused by Superstorm Sandy that left hundreds of thousands of people in New York without power. It is important to understand both the authority the Commission has and the power of its recommendations because of the widespread change this will impose on New Yorkers in the future. The legislative recommendations that are about to be made will change the utilities regulation in New York State, hopefully for the better.
By Heath Hardman, Albany Government Law Review
The fields of social science and psychology continue to make advances in human understanding, and courts sometimes make use of this information. But how can attorneys broaden their access to this information when representing victims of domestic violence? One way is by requesting that a court take judicial notice of certain legislative facts concerning domestic violence. While an attorney can support this request by citing scholarly sources, the court, in its discretion, need not grant the request. Citing legislative materials, such as sponsor’s memos, letters and statements of support, and bill jackets may increase an attorney’s chances of moving a court to take judicial notice of a legislative fact. After all, if the legislature cites the fact as part of its justification in enacting a law, and the court is required to enforce the law, surely the fact is compelling. Indeed, some courts have in fact cited the legislature’s reliance on certain facts when taking judicial notice of legislative facts or relying on them for decision making.
By Ed Delauter, Albany Government Law Review
We need a government that performs better and costs less . . . . [this] means enacting mandate relief. By next year, pension costs for schools and state and local governments will have increased one hundred percent since 2009. We need to reform the pension system and create a Tier VI. The joint Legislature and Executive Mandate relief Council we created last year will begin its work this month. I will request that Council hold public hearings. We need a robust discussion on the pros and cons of the mandates.
Amidst the backdrop of a national recession and record federal and state budget deficits across the nation—including New York—Governor Cuomo stood before the crowd gathered at Empire State Plaza on January 4, 2012 and delivered the 2012 State of the State address. The Governor emphasized the need to reduce the amount of retiree benefits received by public workers, specifically public pensions. To achieve this reduction the Governor announced his plans to include a Tier VI pension plan into his budget proposal. The proposal for a Tier VI pension system was unsurprising considering the Governor’s efforts to get the legislature to pass the Tier VI pension system the previous year as a stand-alone bill, and the skyrocketing cost of retiree benefits in conjunction with a tail spinning economy.
By Courtney Elliott, Albany Government Law Review
In recent years, courts have had to examine wiretap statutes in relation to recording law enforcement officers during the performance of their job duties. Most Americans now carry at least one mobile device capable of recording audio and video with the simple click of a button. Several commentators have observed that it is now common for citizens to use video cameras to document daily life, as well as police activity. On November 26, 2012, the United States Supreme Court denied certiorari in the case of Alvarez v. ACLU of Illinois, leaving in place a federal appeals court’s injunction against an Illinois anti-eavesdropping law which criminalizes audio recording of part or all of a conversation unless all parties involved agree to the recording.