LEGISLATIVE UPDATE June 2021
By: Mark C. Kriss Legislative and Legal Counsel
Both houses of the New York State Legislature have recessed for the 2021 calendar year and stand ready to return to Albany should circumstances warrant. For example, the ongoing Assembly impeachment inquiry respecting Governor Cuomo may require action by the full Assembly should the Judiciary Committee conclude that one or more impeachable offenses have been committed. If the Assembly votes to impeach, in the absence of a resignation, a trial before the Senate joined by all of the judges sitting on the state’s Court of Appeals would ensue.
There are in excess of 15,000 bills pending before the NYS Legislature. Below we have identified legislation of interest to NYSSPE and our members. In order to review any of these proposals (excepting bills awaiting introduction) please simply Google NYS Assembly Bill Search or NYS Senate Bill Search. The full text of each bill and related information will be easily located for review.
The following three bills have passed both houses of the Legislature:
Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering
S 3541 / A 6809 Senator Stavisky / Assembly Member Glick
For more than a decade NYSSPE has supported and advocated for legislation to require a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering as a prerequisite for licensure. We are pleased to report that the above reference bill has passed both houses of the legislature and will be forwarded to the Governor before the end of the legislative year. Thanks to all of our members who have reached out to their legislators regarding this important measure. The bill does permit licensure of applicants who have a degree found to be equivalent to a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering by the Commissioner of Education. For example, an applicant with a degree in physics or mathematics who secures a Master’s Degree in Engineering could qualify. Also a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering Technology has historically been viewed as equivalent in New York provided two years of additional design experience is satisfied.
Low Embodied Carbon Concrete
S 542A / A 2591A Senator Kaminsky /Assembly Member Carroll
This bill requires the Office of General Services to establish guidelines concerning the procurement of low embodied carbon concrete. Contractors doing this type of work with then need to follow these guidelines and certify that they work and the concrete they are procuring meets these guidelines. The bill outlines what OGS will need to examine when crafting the guidelines including incentives for the procurement and use of low embodied carbon concrete by contractors. The bill requires the guidance and any associated legislative recommendations to be issued to the Governor and the Legislature. The bill proponents argue that the production of concrete’s core ingredient, cement, accounts for up to 8% of total global CO2 emissions and that the legislation is needed to meet greenhouse gas reduction targets.
Continuing Education Architecture
S 6783 / A 7604 Senator Cooney / Assembly Member Glick
This bill liberalizes the continuing education requirements for architects in a manner largely parallel those applicable to engineers. The bill allows for credits to be secured by attendance in courses in related professional design fields. The bill also provides for six credits to be carried forward per registration period.
Statute of Repose
S 4127 / A 1706 Senator Griffo / Assembly Member Pretlow (introduced in both houses)
In 48 states design professionals can rely on a Statute of Repose which after a specified period of time following completion of a project provides a complete defense to all design liability claims. New York does not have a true Statute of Repose and the Society has long sought adoption of the above bill which establishes a ten-year Statute of Repose. Due to the absence of legislation retiring engineers may want to consider alternatives which include design liability insurance tail coverage, as well as the use of a trust to protect assets. Please feel free to contact the Society’s legal counsel (Mark Kriss) at 518-449-2037 extension 207 with any questions.[In an upcoming article we will discuss how New York’s Statute of Limitations, provides some protection for design liability claims and in particular how the Statute of Limitations is helpful with regard to first party claims (essentially property damage claims asserted by a project owner) notwithstanding the absence of a Statute of Repose in New York.]
Gas Transmission Lines S 544 / A 1939 Senator Kaminsky/ Assembly Member Cusick (passed Senate)
Requires the public service commission to adopt regulations aimed at ensuring that professional engineers supervise all work and services that could pose a material risk to Public Safety respecting gas transmission lines.
Emergency Responder S 6377 / A 5769 Senator Savino / Assembly Member Englebright (introduced in both houses)
In the wake of a natural or man-made disaster this legislation would require that design professionals be afforded liability protection by the municipality or other governmental entity retaining them to provide emergency design services immediately following the disaster. In the absence of gross negligence the municipality, or other government entity, would stand in the shoes of the design professional in the event of personal injuries or property damage.
Indemnification Reform (pending introduction) [Read more…]