Legislation

View from the Capital

This past year was certainly challenging for everyone as COVID-19 continued to spread and the onset of the Omicron Variant rapidly increased infection rates in all areas of the state. In response, county highway departments continue to place a high priority on the safety of its workforce and that of the public by strictly adhering to the guidance issued by public health officials at both the state and local level. Compounding the operational difficulties facing highway departments are the extraordinary equipment and materials supply chain bottlenecks and acute shortages of essential workers and CDL drivers. Through it all, a remarkable amount of road and bridge work was completed this year thanks in part to the record levels of funding enacted in the 2021-2022 State Budget. 

State Budget Boosts Local Highway/Bridge One-Year Spending to $1 Billion

Over $1 billion was appropriated from the variety of federal and state funded programs that provide much needed resources and equipment to county highway departments directly benefiting the local road, bridge and culvert systems. NYSCHSA was on the frontlines advocating for these increases in vital local program funding. Sustaining these higher levels of funding and securing increases and modifications in some programs where necessary will be a priority focus for NYSCHSA during deliberations on the next state transportation budget, to be enacted by April 1, 2022. 

Federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

The passage of the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act was a welcomed result of the bipartisan effort to preserve and boost federal funding for state and local transportation projects. The $1.2 trillion plan provides a five-year fully funded surface transportation reauthorization and represents a $293.5 billion to fully-fund the last year of the FAST Act, and $274.0 billion for new IIJA commitments. These federal enhancements mean significant percentage increases in nearly all current funding categories of federally supported state and local assistance, for a total of $4.6 billion (52%) over the next five years. 

2022 NYSCHSA State Advocacy Efforts

Governor Kathy Hochul will present her State of the State message to a joint session of the Legislature after the new year and is preparing the release of her first Executive Budget proposal later in January that will reveal her spending priorities and many of her policy initiatives. NYSCHSA reviews these documents and will be reporting relevant information regularly to our superintendents, public works commissioners and affiliate members. Together with the New York State Association of Town Superintendents of Highways, NYSCHSA will testify before the Senate and Assembly Fiscal Committees as they hold hearings and solicit testimony from the public concerning private and public sector stakeholders’ budget priorities. 

NYSCHSA engages directly with our state elected officials, the Governor’s office, state budget and policymakers, the Department of Transportation, Chairs of the Senate and Assembly Transportation Committees and others to make sure our voices are heard during all phases of the state budget process. This activity culminates in our annual Advocacy Day at which over six hundred highway professionals gather at the State Capital for a series of meetings and rallies to demonstrate our support for critical transportation programs. This years’ Advocacy Day, scheduled for March 8-9, is at this time intended to be held in person. 

2021 Legislative Session Developments

In addition to the important state budget issues, each year there are several bills introduced that are supported or opposed by NYSCHSA. Some of these bills with which NYSCHSA expressed interest or raised concerns passed both houses of the Legislature in 2021 and were acted on by Governor Hochul:   

Signed into Law

Chapter 95—Extends certain provisions of the general municipal law, relating to “piggybacking” and granting localities greater contract flexibility to authorize shared purchasing. (Supported by NYSCHSA) 

Chapter 67—Relates to establishing the Adirondack Road Salt Reduction Task Force and pilot program. (NYSCHSA secured two appointments to the Task Force: Kevin Hajos—Warren County; Tracy Eldridge—Hamilton County). 

Chapter 823—Requires payment of prevailing wage on public works projects for work involving the hauling and delivery of aggregate supply construction materials. (Opposed by NYSCHSA; some concerns raised about higher costs for public works projects may be addresses by a Chapter Amendment agreement between the Governor and the Legislature that will limit the hauling operations subject to prevailing wage). 

Not Approved

Veto 64—Prohibits the use of drilling fluids, brine and flowback water from wells, pools or fields on any highway for ice melt or dust suppression. (Opposed by NYSCHSA) 

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2022

Our superintendents and public works commissioners and all the businesses that make up the highway construction industry play a critical role in the economic recovery of our communities and the entire state. Our county governments have been at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic response and are essential to meeting communities’ needs. As the state works to rebuild and recover, continued investments as promoted by our Local Roads Are Essential campaign remain a key element to moving New York forward and supporting county and state economic growth. NYSCHSA will continue its advocacy to assure that public investments in our local highway departments remains a priority for our state elected officials.

New York State Legislative Resources

New York State Governor

Governor Kathy Hochul
Executive Chamber, State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224
Phone: (518) 474-8390

Washington Office:
444 N. Capitol St., NW, Ste. 301
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: (202) 434-7100
Fax: (202) 434-7110

New York State Department of Transportation

Marie Therese Dominguez, Commissioner
50 Wolf Road
Albany, NY 12232
Phone: 518-457-4422

NYSCHSA Legislative Representative

Bruce W. Geiger
President, Bruce W. Geiger & Associates, Inc.
111 Washington Ave, Suite 600 A
Albany NY 12210
518-432-1607
[email protected]