Legislature and Important Changes Affecting the Empire State Marine Trades Association

Visit our newsletter page for more articles and content that affect our membership, sponsors and New York State boaters. We are ever evolving and it's important to stay informed as a valuable element and future of New York's boating community. 

Older legislative information and content can be found here in the archives.

Round VIII of the Regional Economic Development Council Awards - New York State Canal System

On Tuesday, December 18, 2019 Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that more than $763 million in economic and community development funding has been awarded through Round VIII of the Regional Economic Development Council initiative. One of the 2018 Program Descriptions of the REDC awards included the NYS Canal Corporation. The Canalway Matching Grant Program is a competitive matching grant program available to eligible municipalities and 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations along the New York State Canal System. Funding is for capital projects that enhance economic and community development along the canal corridor and are consistent with the goals of the Regional Economic Development Council Plans. There is up to $1 million available in funding. The Canalway Grants are listed below.


Speaker Heastie Announces Leadership Positions and Committee Chairs for 2019 Legislative Session

Link to Assembly Website

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Steven Gosset | Steven.Gosset@nypa.gov | (914) 390-8192 


More Boats on the Water after Tolls Waived on System for Second Consecutive Year; Hire Boats Show Big Increase

ALBANY—The New York State Canal Corporation today announced that motorized pleasure boat traffic on the state Canal System increased 3.4 percent over last year as more boaters took advantage of tolls being waived on the system for the second consecutive year.

Motorized pleasure boats—the most-common vessels on the canals—were recorded traveling through Canal System locks and lift bridges 71,463 times during the 2018 navigation season that began May 15 and ended Oct. 10, compared to 68,928 lockings in 2017. Lockings are up 9 percent compared to the same period in 2016, the last year tolls were imposed, when 65,281 recreational vessels locked through.

 “We are thrilled that more people are experiencing New York’s canals and all they have to offer,” said Brian U. Stratton, Canal Corporation director. “With 524 miles of waterways to explore, our Canal System provides unparalleled recreational opportunities and is becoming a magnet for tourism.”

The figures account for each time a boat goes through a lock or under a lift bridge, not the actual number of boats. If a boat travels through several locks, it would be counted as locking through each time. The numbers also do not account for boaters who only travel locally and do not go through a lock. A large percentage of boating traffic falls into this category.

New York waived tolls for recreational vessels in 2017 to celebrate the Erie Canal bicentennial and did so again this year to mark the 100th anniversary of the Barge Canal, now known as the New York State Canal System. It includes the Erie, Champlain, Oswego and Cayuga-Seneca canals.

A decision on tolls for 2019 will be made by the end of the year. In the past, the Canal Corporation has charged $25-$100 for a season pass; the exact amount depends on the size of the vessel.

The Canal System also saw a 21 percent increase in hire boats leased by private companies for three to seven nights, so vacationers can leisurely explore the canal corridor. A hire boat on display this year at the new Exposition Center at the Great New York State Fair drew thousands of visitors.

“There is no better way to spend free time than boating in upstate New York, and some of the best boating is on the historic New York State Canal System,” said Gabe Capobianchi, Empire State Marine Trades Association president.

“It’s great to see recreational use of the system on the rise and it’s an indication that more people are discovering the joys of boating and the wonderful resource that the Canal System is to New York State.”

Link to Website


Waste oil regulation 2018

A couple of years ago the ESMTA strenuously opposed the DEC proposed revision of the waste oil burning regulations. Last year, marinas had been successfully exempted from the regulations entirely as auto shops. This victory has now become official  after 2017’s discussions had set it in motion. 

This is another incredible legislative victory for the ESMTA in Albany as we continue to create a louder voice for marine professionals and boaters in New York State. 


Blueprint for a Better New York - 2018 Legislative Advocacy Agenda

Printable PDF

January 17, 2018
Ken Pokalsky

Proactive Growth Agenda
Significant Areas of Concern:
2018 Legislative/Regulatory Program
2018 will be a critical year for New York State, with significant financial and economic challenges to be addressed, and with statewide and legislative elections that could alter the state’s future political direction.

First and foremost is a state budget deficit approaching $5 billion. That deficit, coupled with the recent tax reform legislation passed by Washington lawmakers, and other expected legislative action, or inaction, from D.C. will require state policymakers to make some daunting choices. Those hard choices will be made even more difficult because this is an election year, a time when lawmakers typically like to provide good news to their constituents and favored special interests.

While this all may sound like a bad thing, we believe this confluence of events provides New York a real opportunity to address the many ways our spending is out of line with our fellow states. We need to evaluate why our Medicaid expenses exceed those of Texas and Florida combined. Similarly, we need to reassess our education spending and determine why New York is one of the leaders in per-pupil spending, yet falls toward the middle or bottom in most assessment rankings.

Lawmakers must also look at areas where we have policies that stifle economic growth, innovation and job creation.

Reforming items like the Scaffold Law, prevailing wage mandates and others will allow our state to blunt the impact of the coming loss in personal income tax revenue and put us on more equal footing with other states.

We also call on our leaders at the state and national levels to demand New York receive more of its fair share of federal spending, especially for infrastructure. Currently, we are the largest donor state, contributing nearly $50 billion more in taxes to Washington than we receive in the form of federal spending.

The following pages lay out The Business Council’s “Blueprint for a Better New York,” reflecting the opportunities and concerns expressed by our diverse membership. We aren’t saying we have all the answers. However, we are certain that taking a critical look at our state’s legacy of high spending and examining whether we are truly receiving outcomes deserving of that level of investment will benefit all New Yorkers. Federal action and our own precarious budget situation have given us an opportunity that we cannot let pass. New York has many great things to offer. From world-class public and private higher education institutions, a diverse workforce, abundant water resources, and much more ― we are well-positioned to compete against our fellow states. All we need to do is stop getting in our own way.

Heather C. Briccetti, Esq. 
President and CEO
The Business Council of New York State, Inc.

Proactive Growth Agenda

Significant issues on our proactive Legislative Agenda for 2018 include:

Improving the state’s workforce development efforts to more directly address current employer workforce needs.
Expanding and updating New York State’s energy infrastructure, expediting state review and approval of new transmission capacity, and providing for the extension of natural gas service. Reducing state-imposed energy assessments on industrial/commercial customers.

Adopting broad-based labor law reforms, including standards for pay periods and methods of pay, workable standards for defining employees and contractors, statewide provisions for scheduling (with state preemption), limits on Department of Labor wage order authority, restoration of full “experience rating” in Unemployment Insurance tax tables, and others.
Adopting additional state tax reforms, including small business income tax reductions for pass through entities, Article 9A technical amendments, repeal of the False Claims Act’s extension to tax cases, a refundable Research & Development investment credit, updating  corporate and personal income tax codes in response to federal reforms, and others.
Adopting long-necessary liability reforms, including adoption of a comparative liability standard under Labor Law Section 240 (which can be addressed as part of Executive Law 15-A/MWBE extension).
Continuing  support for education policies and initiatives that promote college and workforce readiness.
Updating and reforming the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) and other project review programs and requirements in order to promote new private sector investments.
Eliminating sector-specific barriers to growth, such as limits on CPA firm ownership, among others.
Significant Areas of Concern

Each session, the state’s business community faces a large number of adverse proposals that add costs, restrictions or mandates to private sector activities. Issues of significant concern for 2018 include:

  • Expansion of prevailing wage mandates to private sector projects.

  • New revenue measures related to a state budget deficit and/or federal tax changes.

  • “Pay-equity” related mandates, and other additional labor law mandates, including those on scheduling, screening, benefits and others.

  • Government-sponsored retirement programs that require employer support and/or involvement.

  • Unworkable cyber security mandates.

  • Extension of the Article 15-A/MWBE program without meaningful reforms.

  • Proposals for a state-level single-payer health plan.

  • Campaign financing reforms that further restrict private sector political advocacy.

  • Workers’ compensation legislation that add to system costs (e.g., coverage for workplace stress, penalties on employers/carriers who “delay” process, others).

  • New private rights of action proposals.

  • Mandates to divest common retirement fund holdings in traditional energy companies.

Governor Cuomo Cleans Up

Governor Cuomo has made unprecedented investments in the State’s environmental, energy and agricultural programs. These include:

  • Enacting the unprecedented $2.5 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017, to protect public health and the environment through investments in drinking water, wastewater and source water protection;

  • Establishing the $400 million Water Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2015, a municipal clean water infrastructure grant program; 

    Attack Harmful Algal Blooms. Using resources from the Clean Water Infrastructure Act and the Environmental Protection Fund, the State will implement a $65 million initiative to combat harmful algal blooms in Upstate New York water bodies. The resources will be used to develop action plans to reduce sources of pollution that spark algal blooms, and provide grant funding to implement the action plans, including the installation of new monitoring and treatment technologies. 

    •  Contain and Treat the Grumman Contamination Plume. New York is fast tracking construction of a new, state‐of‐the‐art well system to fully contain and treat the plume of contamination caused by industrial waste from the U.S. Navy and Northrop Grumman Bethpage manufacturing facilities in Oyster Bay, Nassau County. The full containment and treatment system is estimated to cost at least $150 million to construct. The Executive Budget includes sufficient appropriations to support expected outlays in FY 2019, and the State will pursue reimbursement from the U.S. Navy and Northrup Grumman. 


Part O – Provide funding flexibility between Lake Ontario Flood Relief Programs

This bill would provide flexibility in funding between the three programs authorized to provide flood relief to the Lake Ontario region.

Summary of Provisions and Statement in Support:

Following the flooding of Lake Ontario in the Spring of 2017, Governor Cuomo signed legislation providing $45 million in funding for flood relief efforts for three programs--a commercial program for small businesses and rental properties, a residential program for homeowners, and a municipal program for local governments. Each of the three programs is capped at $15 million.

This bill would amend the language to allow for flexibility between the three programs-- funds not spent in one program would be allowed to be used in another program as necessary. Additional funding necessary to meet overall program needs will be provided from other available State resources.

Budget Implications:

Enactment of this bill is necessary to implement the FY 2019 Executive Budget to ensure flexibility in funding options for all three Lake Ontario programs.

Effective Date:
This bill would take effect immediately. 


The Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence Seaway Flood Recovery and International Joint Commission Plan



An act to amend chapter 85 of the laws of 2017 relating to creating the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence Seaway flood recovery and International Joint Commission Plan 2014 mitigation grant program, in relation to including docks as an approved storm-related repair for primary and income qualified seasonal residences


This act will allow owners of primary and income-qualified seasonal residences access to grant funding for flood-related dock repairs under the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence Seaway flood recovery and International Joint Commission Plan 2014 mitigation grant program.

Summary of Provisions: 

Section 1 amends chapter 85 of the laws of 2017 where it relates to the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence Seaway flood recovery and International Joint Commission Plan 2014 mitigation grant program to include repair and restoration of docks among the acceptable uses of up to $50,000 in grant funding per eligible primary residence and income-qualified seasonal residence. Section 2 provides the effective date.


 In 2017, New York State experienced an historic year of precipitation, which devastated communities along the shores of Lake Ontario and the Saint Lawrence River.

Following the significant damage the flooding caused, the communities along the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence Seaway require significant assistance to recover and protect from threat of future damage caused by high lake levels and powerful waves. While providing access to our waterways, docks can also provide additional shelter for shorelines against powerful waves, which cause significant erosion and damage shoreline property.

This act will allow owners of primary residences and income-qualified seasonal residences access to Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence Seaway flood recovery and International Joint Commission Plan 2014 mitigation grant funding for repair and restoration of docks damaged by flooding between January 1, 2017 and June 30, 2017, along with the current repairs and restorations allowed under the grant program.

In addition to restoring damaged docks, accessing these grant funds for docks will help property owners on the shores of Lake Ontario and the Saint Lawrence River better protect their shore- lines against future wave and flood devastation.



EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately.


Paid Family Leave for certain New York State Employees



An act to amend the military law, in relation to paid leave for certain employees; and to amend chapter 406 of the laws of 2017, amending the military law relating to authorizing additional paid leave for certain employees, in relation to the effectiveness thereof


This bill would provide for a three-way negotiated and agreed chapter amendment for S.2911A

Summary of Provisions:

The original bill, S.2911A, would have provided eight days of paid leave to State employees with military combat experience so that they may obtain health related services without loss of pay. This chapter amendment would change the number of paid leave days from eight to five, and would amend the effective date of this legislation from 120 days (from the original bill's signing date of November 11, 2017) to April 1, 2019.


This bill would provide for a three-way negotiated and agreed chapter amendment for S.2911A as set forth above.



EFFECTIVE DATE: This act would take April 1, 2019.


Party and Charter Boat License Amendment



An act to amend the environmental conservation law, in relation to party and charter boat licenses


To require the submission of proof by the owner of a qualified vessel that the owner and crew of such vessel are currently enrolled in a random drug testing program in order to obtain a license for a party or charter boat.

Summary of Provisions:

 Amends Section 13-0336 of the Environmental Conservation Law by adding a new subdivision 3 to require the owner of a qualified vessel to submit proof that the operator and crew of such vessel are currently enrolled in a random drug testing program that complies with the Federal govern- ment's 46 CFR 16.230 "Drug Testing Program" regulations when applying for a party and charter boat license from the New York State department of Environmental Conservation.


Title 46 Code of Federal Regulations (46 CFR), requires marine employers to administer a drug and alcohol testing program for their employees. These regulations were developed by the United States Coast Guard and set the minimum requirements for testing in the marine industry.

Any crewmember who performs a safety related function onboard a vessel, including but not limited to line handling, steering the vessel, distributing life vests or ensuring the safety of the passengers, is required to be included in the program. This drug and alcohol testing program requires pre-employment, periodic, random, serious marine incident, post accident and reasonable cause testing programs. The random drug testing program (46 CFR 16.230) notes that person may not serve on a vessel in the position as master, operator or person in charge, unless all crewmembers covered under the provisions of Section 16.230

CFR are subject to the established random testing requirements. The safety of party and charter boat passengers and crew is of utmost importance. This legislation would require the owner of a qualified vessel to submit proof that the operator and crew of such vessel are currently enrolled in a random drug testing program that complies with the Federal government's 46 CFR "Drug Testing Program" regulations when applying for a party and charter boat license from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Because vessel owners should already be enrolled in a 46 CFR 16.230 random drug testing program, this requirement will not place any additional burden on vessel owners. Enactment of this measure will enhance enforcement of this federal law while ensuring the safety and well being of party and charter boat passengers and crew members.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2015-16 S.1876/A.2019; 2013-14 S.2922A/A.3355A


EFFECTIVE DATE: Immediately; provided, however, that the addition, amendment and/or repeal of any rule or regulation necessary for the implementation of this act on its effective date are authorized and directed to be made and completed on or before such effective date.



S. 3003 A. 2327 2017-2018 Regular Sessions


January 18, 2017 ___________ IN SENATE -- Introduced by Sen. LAVALLE -- read twice and ordered print- ed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Environmental Conservation IN ASSEMBLY -- Introduced by M. of A. THIELE, GRAF, PALUMBO -- read once and referred to the Committee on Environmental Conservation AN ACT to amend the environmental conservation law, in relation to party and charter boat licenses

The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem- bly, do enact as follows: 1 Section 1. Section 13-0336 of the environmental conservation law is 2 amended by adding a new subdivision 3 to read as follows: 3 3. In order to obtain a party and charter boat license, the owner of a 4 qualified vessel must submit proof that the operator and crew are 5 currently enrolled in a random drug testing program that complies with 6 the federal government's 46CFR 16.230 "Drug Testing Program" regu- 7 lations. 8 § 2. This act shall take effect immediately; provided, however, that 9 the addition, amendment and/or repeal of any rule or regulation neces- 10 sary for the implementation of this act on its effective date are 11 authorized and directed to be made and completed on or before such 12 effective date.


DEC Pesticide Program

Annual Report Reminder

It's that time of year again! The New York State Pesticide Reporting Law requires certified commercial applicators, technicians and Commercial Permit holders to file annual reports for 2017 by February 1, 2018. You can quickly and accurately file your report electronically. Call 518-402-8748 or email prl@dec.ny.gov if you have questions.

Worker Protection Standard

Facilities growing agricultural crops in the U.S. are subject to the Federal Worker Protection Standard (WPS). The WPS requires a new Poster to be used at central locations, e.g., places where employees frequently congregate, and at certain decontamination locations on-site, starting January 2, 2018.

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Questions about the Worker Protection Standard in New York State can be sent to PesticideCompliance@dec.ny.gov.


2018 State of the State Address

Entire Address from the Governor can be found here on our Newsletter Page.

Wednesday, January 3rd marked the opening of the 241st Legislative Session. The day began with both the Senate and the Assembly gaveling in and leadership addressing their respective memberships.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo held the annual State of the State address at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center. This will be the first time since 2015 the Governor presented the State of the State separate from his Executive Budget proposal. The speech focused on the federal tax reform law, combating the opioid epidemic, criminal justice reform and education.  The Governor is expected to present his executive budget proposal separately, later in the month. He is required by law to develop and present a budget to the legislature by Tuesday, January 16, 2018.