At Work in Albany

“L Day” 2018

By Chris Wukovits, TriCounty Director

On Tuesday, March 6th, 2018, local Big I New York association delegations from all over New York State descended on Albany to meet with local legislators to advance the business of insurance and voice our support for some legislation, our concern and objection to others both “old” and “new”.  “L Day” had been on a 4-year hiatus and thankfully it was revived for 2018 by the Big I New York.   They provided support to all the local association such as TriCounty Independence Agents and Brokers with specific information regarding making appointments with both Senate and Assembly members of the Insurance Sub-Committee.  I am proud to say of the 50 or so agents that came to Albany on that sunny Tuesday morning, TriCounty had the largest group which consisted of 7 Board Members and two association members who took the time to come to Albany and have our collective voice heard.  We were one of, if not the largest group in attendance and it was suggested we also had the most scheduled appointments with 12.  

As the Chair of the TriCounty Legislative Committee, I was blessed to have such an outstanding group of professionals accompanying me to Albany.  We methodically divided up the list of appointments and then split off into two groups and made our way up and down the elevators and in most cases the stairs of the Legislative building where our lawmakers have their offices.  My group also had what is called an “off the floor” meeting with an Assemblyman.  Here is how that works…,  you go to the Assembly Chamber and get the attention of the Sargent of Arms who is at the door and provide him your business card and tell him you have an appointment with the Assembly member and he will go in tell the member and eventually the member will come out into the hallway to meet with you.  I was amazed at all the other people and groups waiting to do the same thing!  We even saw members of the NY Farm Bureau dressed in jeans, boots and a cowboy hats waiting have their say.

Now let me tell you about the issues we discussed with the Senate and Assembly members who represented Nassau, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.  When we meet with the legislator or their top aides we advised them that we want them to support specific bills such as the Increase in Payroll Threshold for Workers Compensation for Employers subject to the Work Safety Program, Consolidating the License Renewal Dates for Business Entity’s and our opposition to the Governor’s proposed Budget item which would have increased the fines for insurance agents from $1,000 to $10,000.  All of them agreed with these common-sense issues and committed their support.  I am pleased to report that our efforts made a difference because that item was not in the final budget proposal.  However, we did receive opposition to our support of the reform or repeal of the Absolute Liability Standard in Labor Law 240 & 241 affectionally known as the “Scaffold Law”.  This topic was labeled the “third rail” by a Senate member meaning no one wants to touch it!  The other main topic we addressed with our legislators was the proposed Single Payer Health System.  Support of opposition to this plan is divided down party lines with many members in favor and about the same amount opposed.  The outcome is uncertain, but the Big I oppose a Single Payer system as it would hamper competition, disrupt a vibrant marketplace that already exists and could adversely affect the quality and or cost of the coverage and care offered.

The Big I New York and TriCounty will continue to support legislation and positions that benefit our members and industry and strongly voice our opposition to current or proposed legislation that will harm our industry and clients. 

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