Category Archives: Municipal Law

An Examination of Governor Cuomo’s Moreland Commission: The Progress So Far

By Kelly Hendricken, Albany Government Law Review

Introduction  

            Recently, Governor Andrew Cuomo called for a Moreland Act Commission to investigate the response of New York’s power utility companies to Superstorm Sandy.[1]  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.[2]  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.[3]  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.

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Filed under Civil Service Law, Energy Law, Executive Law, Government Reform, Municipal Law, Public Budgets

Moratorium on Progress: How New York’s “Moratorium” Statute Has Helped Halt Public Sector Teacher Pension Reform

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.[1]

Amidst the backdrop of a national recession and record federal and state budget deficits across the nation—including New York[2]—Governor Cuomo stood before the crowd gathered at Empire State Plaza on January 4, 2012 and delivered the 2012 State of the State address.[3]  The Governor emphasized the need to reduce the amount of retiree benefits received by public workers, specifically public pensions.[4]  To achieve this reduction the Governor announced his plans to include a Tier VI pension plan into his budget proposal.[5]  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,[6] and the skyrocketing cost of retiree benefits in conjunction with a tail spinning economy.[7]

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Filed under Civil Service Law, Government Reform, Labor Law, Municipal Law, Public Budgets, Retirement Income

Purpose for Taylor Law’s Strike Provision: Redefining “Strike” in New York Public Sector and Employment Law

By Joanna Pericone, Albany Government Law Review

Introduction  

In 1977 a fire damaged the building of the New York State Unemployment Insurance Department.[1]  The employees were moved to a temporary building that posed several dangerous and uncomfortable working conditions.[2]  The building was essentially unheated, electrical cords blew fuses and posed a walking hazard because they were strewn across the floor.[3]  One of the two toilets in the building was backed up and there were only two exits in the building, one of which was blocked and the other was hard to open.[4]  After the employees took their work and reported to another temporary building, their supervisor ordered them to go back to the deplorable building, but the employees refused to return.[5]  The New York Court of Appeals held that the workers had engaged in an unlawful strike, in violation of New York’s Civil Service Law, and that they were subsequently liable for sanctions imposed by their employer.[6]  Although the conditions of the workplace created a “fire trap” and the strike was prompted out of concerns for safety, the Court found this to be irrelevant; under New York’s Public Employee’s Fair Employment Act, commonly known as the Taylor Law, the reason for a public employee participating in any kind of a work stoppage is not pertinent when determining whether an unlawful strike has occurred. [7]

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Filed under Civil Service Law, Employment Law, Labor Law, Municipal Law

Marcellus Shale and Municipal Empowerment in New York

By Zachary Kansler, Albany Government Law Review

Introduction

Natural gas deposits in the Marcellus Shale geologic formations have been a polarizing issue in New York State, spanning areas of concern including public health, environmental welfare, and municipal authority, among others.  For some, Marcellus Shale is a symbol for a movement or point of view, and for others, the extraction of natural gas deposits in Marcellus Shale formations has had a more profound effect, including families alleging that their water supply has been tainted by drilling and extraction processes known as hydrofracking.[1]  Many believe the adverse effects of hydrofracking can be addressed, and hopefully mitigated through various means, including state regulation.[2]  In addition, it is also possible that local governments may have the authority to address natural gas extraction as well. However, until recently, it was not known whether such authority existed.    Continue reading

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Filed under Energy Law, Land Use, Municipal Law, Municipal Liability, New York Court of Appeals, Technology Law