New York State’s Commercial Driver’s License Requirements

By Diana Filkins, Albany Government Law Review Class of 2011

On Saturday, March 12, a bus returning from the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut flipped on its side on a busy highway in the Bronx.[1]  It continued to slide until it hit a metal traffic pole, at which point the top of the bus was severed.[2]  Fifteen people were killed while dozens of others were injured.[3]  The driver told authorities that he had to swerve after being hit by another vehicle, yet other passengers report that the driver had already swerved several times for no reason and had been driving erratically.[4]  Authorities investigated how much sleep the driver had the night before.[5]  In addition, the driver had been convicted of manslaughter and grand larceny in the past, as well as receiving a traffic ticket for driving without a license in 1995.[6]  Due to his traffic violations, his license was suspended and he should not have been driving the bus.[7] Continue reading “New York State’s Commercial Driver’s License Requirements”

Horsing Around With Conservation: Revisited

By Kevin Rautenstrauch, Albany Government Law Review

This January Andrew Stengel, Editor-in-Chief of Albany Government Law Review, posted on the Fireplace blog: Horsing Around With Conservation Part Two: A Roofless Historical Structure in a Brooklyn Park Hosts Public Outdoor Recreation, But State Parks Claims Otherwise. Stengel’s analysis of legal arguments of records obtained by the state’s Freedom of Information Law and U.S. Freedom of Information Act, which one paper called “seminal,” concluded that the National Parks Service violated the law by removing the Tobacco Warehouse, a historic structure from a protected map.

This week a federal judge ruled that the federal government indeed violated the law thus protecting the Tobacco Warehouse. The lawsuit was based on Stengel’s theory and documents that he provided to the plaintiffs, several Brooklyn community groups.

New York’s Amazon Law: The Next Step for Nexus

By Joseph H. Cucco, Albany Government Law Review

 Since the internet first became a reality, there have been questions raised about how to ensure that online retailers—also called “e-tailers”[1]—collect and pay their fair share of sales taxes.  Defining what their fair share is however, has not been a simple matter, due to constitutional issues regarding limits on states’ ability to tax interstate commerce.  Recently, states have begun enacting statutes designed to capture sales or use taxes from e-tailers.  New York is one state which has imposed sales tax on internet purchases by passage of a statute dubbed the “Amazon Law.”[2]  Continue reading “New York’s Amazon Law: The Next Step for Nexus”

“New York’s Last, Best Hope for Real Reform”: The Case for Convening a State Constitutional Convention

By Brian M. Kolb, New York State Assembly Republican Leader

In the lead article of the inaugural issue of the Albany Government Law Review’s New York Legislation book, Assembly Republican Leader Brian Kolb convincingly advocates for a “People’s Constitutional Convention.”   Mr. Kolb, the Assembly Minority Leader, argues that, since the last convention in 1967, the fiscal, governmental and confidence crises are reasons not to wait until 2017, the next time the question of convening a convention will automatically appear on the ballot.

Mr. Kolb created an online petition to call for a convention: Reform New York.  To date, nearly 2,500 have signed, at least virtually, the petition to support a People’s Convention to Reform New York.

The term “reform” has reached remora-like status in Albany, attached to nearly anything, and in cases that may result in only marginal improvement.  As Mr. Kolb writes, the People’s convention is needed to address far-reaching, institutional change:

State government’s dysfunction, corruption, and fiscal irresponsibility are still the ultimate trump card that can mobilize public opinion and serve as an urgent call to action. As symptoms of these “cancers” on government continue to manifest themselves in the form of chronic unemployment, late state budgets, multi-billion dollar deficits and debt, some of the nation’s highest property, business, and income taxes, the “case” for convening a constitutional convention will be self-evident, extremely powerful, and, in my opinion, open and shut. The fact that state government still lacks a statewide succession plan for state offices, an independent Legislative Redistricting Commission, term limits for legislative leaders and legislators, initiative and referendum, . . . will continue inspiring calls for reforming the broken institution of state government.

Click here to view the article by Assembly Republican Leader Kolb.