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Mandate relief task force releases report

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Mandate relief, that is.

The details of Governor Andrew Cuomo's mandate relief task force have been released.  Among the recommendations, according to Cara Matthews at Gannett:

  • Create a cheaper pension plan for state employees
  • Change the rules related to the contractors that local governments use
  • Prevent the creation of new mandates unless there's money to back them up
  • Create an "Office of State Mandate Reform"

Liz Benjammin at State of Politics points out that the recommendations don't include changing the state's Taylor Law, which governs union bargaining rights.

Tom Precious at the Buffalo News details another area where the report is silent:

The Mandate Relief Redesign Team was silent on such laws as the Triborough Amendment, which localities have long said gives public employee unions the upper hand in contract talks, and state laws affecting how much cities, school districts and other local governments must pay for everything from employee health insurance to special education programs. The panel acknowledged more work is needed in those areas. “Each of these complex issues has a long history, and addressing them will be a challenge requiring further review, discussion and feedback,” the panel’s report said.

And Rick Carlin at Capitol Confidential points out that creating a new office isn't likely to play well:

Creation of a new Office could amplify some of the criticism that Cuomo has already received regarding the myriad tasks forces, study commissions and teams he’s created — all in the name of streamlining and downsizing government. Or it could be a shrewd way to funnel ideas around a recalcitrant Legislature whom many have criticized as being beholden to public sector unions and other supporters of the status quo.

DEC chief
Joe Martens has been approved by a senate committee for the top post at the Department of Environmental Conservation.  Jon Campbell at the Press & Sun-Bulletin reports that that's a good sign as Martens heads to a full senate vote next week.  It's an important appointment as New York grapples with regulations around hydraulic fracturing.

Before he received approval from the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee on Tuesday, Martens was asked several questions on hydraulic fracturing and the DEC's ongoing review of the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement, an 800-page document that will guide the agency's permitting process for high-volume hydraulic fracturing when it is completed. Martens said the agency is hoping for a June completion date on a second draft of the document but offered no guarantees. An executive order issued by former Gov. David A. Paterson asked for the draft "on or around June 1."

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