New York State
State: The 2019 Legislative Session commenced on January 9, 2019, with many new members forming the body of a new Democratic majority in the State Senate. In the Assembly, where the Democratic conference retains a supermajority, there are a number of new members and committee chair assignments. Our government relations and lobbying staff have been in action ensuring that our membership’s voices are heard in Albany, working to strengthen existing relationships and building new ones.
Budget: Last week, Governor Cuomo issued the 2020 Executive Budget proposal highlighting increased spending on a number of ACEC New York priorities. The budget’s Article VII language also contains a number of legislative proposals highlighted below. These budget proposals will undergo negotiation and not necessarily represent the final adopted numbers and policies.
Transportation: The budget contains language establishing a congestion tolling program which would charge vehicles traveling below 60th street in Manhattan. The program is intended to provide a steady stream of funding to drive repairs and improvements to New York City’s subway system. In addition to this program the proposed budget would provide over $5.8B in operating support. DOT funding is provided at a level of $4.4B in accordance with the 2016 funding cycle. Local funding through the CHIPS and Marchiselli program is kept at $477.8M with continuation of the $100M funding to both the PAVE NY and BRIDGE NY programs.
Environmental and Energy: The budget proposes to allocate $2.5B for clean water infrastructure, $300M to the Environmental Protection Fund, continues the $2.5B Clean Water Infrastructure Act, invests an additional $23m in the Hudson River Valley Greenway and allocates $55M for DEC capital needs through NY works.
Alternative project delivery: Among the Article VII proposals are a re-authorization of the State’s existing Design Build laws, and an expansion of the allowable project delivery forms to include Construction Manager at Risk, as well as Construction Manager Build. The proposal also expands the list of entities authorized to use alternative project delivery to include the Dormitory Authority, Empire State Development, Office of General Services, Department of Health and the Olympic Regional Development Authority.
MWBE: The budget contains a re-authorization of the State’s MWBE program through 2024 and proposes additional changes beyond the scope of analysis here.
State Policy Initiatives: ACEC New York’s member-driven legislative agenda is aimed at ensuring the strength and vitality of the State’s professional design industry.
Budget: Our initiatives include advocating for the continued high levels of funding for transportation, environmental, water, energy and building infrastructure. ACEC New York is testifying at next week’s Assembly transportation committee hearing, where we will highlight the ongoing economic benefits of investing in infrastructure and supporting the firms that are behind the systems, structures and facilities on which the State relies.
ESOP Expansion: The Association met with legislators to secure reintroduction of Legislation that passed the Senate last year which would allow an Employee Stock Ownership Plan to own a greater portion of a Design Professional Corporation while still ensuring that licensed professionals control the firm.
Private Sector Expertise: We stand committed to highlighting the efficiency and capacity the State’s private engineering firms bring to public works projects, and pushing back on misguided legislation intended to deter the use of private firms.
QBS: Advancing the use of Qualifications-Based Selection (QBS) remains a primary policy objective and the subject of a renewed education initiative.
Thanks to the outstanding efforts of our donors, ACEC New York set another record for most raised by a member organization with a final year-end tally of over $86,000 dollars. This exceptional outcome was the result of the membership’s efforts across every region of the State and donors at all levels. Fundraising efforts for 2019 have already begun - watch your email for new opportunities to support the Federal PAC.
New York City
Update on Retrofit Bill. ACEC New York is continuing to advocate for changes to the Retrofit Bill (Intro 1253). If passed into law, the bill will require thousands of buildings citywide to undergo energy retrofitting to limit their carbon footprint. Within the last month our Metro Energy Codes Committee members met with the City Council and the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability to recommend changes to the bill text. ACEC New York expects to receive an updated version of the bill from the City in the months ahead and we anticipate the City Council will vote on the bill around Earth Day in April 2019.
December 17: Scott Frank and Josephine Zurica, chair and vice-chair of the Metro Energy Codes Committee and Bill Murray, NYC Director of Government Relations, met with Councilman Costa Constantinides, lead author of the Retrofit Bill.
Emerging Leaders Program. On January 9, ACEC New York’s Emerging Leaders Committee held a well-attended program on “Legislation Drafting through the Lens of the Energy Codes Committee.” The program featured presentations by Scott Frank of JB&B (Chair, Metro Energy Code Committee) and Josephine Zurica of Dagher Engineering (Vice Chair, Metro Energy Code Committee) and it focused on the Retrofit Bill as a case study. Our thanks to JB&B for hosting and to Chris LaTuso of HDR and Alex Gore of WSP, Chair and Vice-Chair of the Emerging Leaders Committee, for producing this successful program!
January 9: Emerging Leaders Committee holds a program on “Legislation Drafting through the Lens of the Energy Codes Committee.”
Continued Advocacy on “Tenant Protection” Bills. In December, ACEC New York submitted testimony to the City Council regarding a package of “Tenant Protection” bills. In January, attorneys from the City Council’s Committee on Housing & Buildings contacted ACEC New York to ask questions as follow-up to our testimony and to request information related the bills. As we understand it, the City Council will send the association amended versions of these bills in March before they are voted on. Our thanks to the Metro Code Committees and our Overall DOB Liaison, Chris McHugh of AKF Group, for leading ACEC New York’s review and response to this legislative package.
ACEC New York City PAC launch. The NYC PAC has launched the 2019 fundraising effort! This month, a solicitation letter was mailed to members. The PAC is a powerful opportunity for advocacy, which benefits all member firms. Principals and key employees of all Metropolitan Region firms are asked to contribute $100 a year and board members $250. Thank you to those who have contributed so far! Contributions can be made via check or by via credit card by contacting Bill Murray.
Metro Region Public Policy Committee. On January 9, the Public Policy Committee held its third meeting of the year. Meeting minutes are available on our website. They provide a snapshot and update on recent Metro Region advocacy efforts relating to procurement reform, legislation, Design-Build and other issues of important to our members.