What Was Actually Accomplished
November 11th, 2009
After hours of negotiations, what did the state legislature actually accomplish during yesterday’s special session?
Besides adding to the general perception that they are a “bunch of bumbling do nothings,” as one frustrated observer put it, they actually managed to vote on two pieces of legislation.
The first was a mandate relief bill that is designed to reduce the cost of local governments by making them more efficient. According to a press release from Speaker Sheldon Silver’s office the bill would:
- Reduce the minimum number of municipal corporations needed to establish a health insurance cooperative from five to three;
- Facilitate highway shared services agreements among municipalities, and between municipalities and state agencies;
- Allow one public health director to serve more than one county;
- Increase the local competitive bidding threshold for all contracts for public work involving an expenditure of more than $20,000 to $35,000
- Authorize the Municipal Bond Bank Agency to purchase municipal bonds for public improvements under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and allow them (municipalities?) to issue pooled municipal bonds to achieve lower interest rates;
- Treat municipal employees the same as private sector employees by prohibiting them from seeking recovery against a public employer for damages otherwise covered by insurance; and
- Protect parties to the settlement of tort claims from certain unwarranted liens, reimbursements and subrogation claims.
“Local taxpayers and municipalities, especially in the wake of this recession, have been burdened by unfunded state mandates,” said Silver. “This builds upon a consolidation measure we passed earlier this year, which provides a comprehensive outline for the consolidation of local entities that are no longer cost-efficient. By affording municipalities more flexibility, savings in operational costs will be passed on to taxpayers.”
The Second piece of legislation passed by both houses would mandate consecutive sentences for those convicted of A-1 felony offenses.The bill also denies credit for time already served to offenders who are critically ill and who could be eligible for early parole. Under current law seriously ill offenders may seek early parole after serving one-half of their sentences. The bill clarifies that time an inmate served under a previous sentence does not count towards that 50 percent requirement.By David King on November 11, 2009, 11:42 am
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