|Recent Committee Activity
Proposed Amendment to Service Animal Definition
The Civil Rights Committee issued a report urging that the definition of ¡§service animal¡¨ in the New York State Human Rights Law be amended so that it is consistent with the definition under the Americans with Disabilities Act. As currently drafted, the State Human Rights Law defines guide, hearing, and service dogs in terms that are impossible to achieve and which conflict with applicable federal and local law.
Proposal For a Filing Fee Alternative for Ballot Access
The Election Law Committee issued a proposal for a Filing Fee Alternative for Ballot Access. The Proposal calls for New York to adopt a filing fee alternative to the designating or nominating petition requirement for placement on the election ballot, or in the alternative to guarantee a place on the ballot to candidates who have met the qualifying threshold for public funding by New York City¡¦s Campaign Finance Board. Under current law, the disparity of the enrollment figures in the political parties makes it more difficult for the smaller parties to obtain signatures to place their candidates on the ballot. These problems are magnified when the challenge process under the New York Election Law is taken into account. Insurgent candidates are often challenged by incumbents or representatives of the political parties, and can find themselves below the required amount of signatures because of errors relating to dates or addresses, signers who are not registered or enrolled, or various mistakes in the Subscribing Witness Statement. Such problems could be avoided, the Proposal argues, by a filing fee alternative.
The National Popular Vote Initiative
The Election Law Committee released a report that reviews the National Popular Vote Initiative (NPVI) and the electoral college system it seeks to reform and concludes that while there are strong arguments in favor of adopting the NPVI proposal, there is too much risk and uncertainty about the legality of the initiative to recommend the implementation of the NPVI as currently proposed. Under the NPVI, there is no way to ensure the likelihood of a smooth and successful presidential election, and the unprecedented structure of the NPVI would create an opportunity for those unhappy with the outcome of a presidential election to attempt to alter the outcome through the courts.
On "Grandfathered Plans" in Connection with Healthcare Reform
The Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Committee sent a letter to the IRS commenting on the status of group health plans and health insurance coverage as a ¡§grandfathered plan¡¨ following the enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The letter seeks clarification regarding the ability of self-insured plans to be classified as ¡§grandfathered plans¡¨ and provides comments on the changes to a plan¡¦s benefits, costs, or annual limits that would cause a group health plan or health insurance coverage to cease to be a ¡§grandfathered plan.¡¨
Extending Voting Rights to the Representatives from the District of Columbia
The Federal Legislation Committee sent a letter to Congress regarding proposed legislation H.R. 157, H.R. 665, S.160, which would extend voting rights to the Representatives from the District of Columbia. Such a change, the letter argues, can only be accomplished by constitutional amendment, and Congress should pursue a constitutional amendment in order to accomplish the goal of adding a voting seat in the House of Representatives for the District of Columbia.
Limiting Armed Forces Training in Combat Injuries to "Human-Based" Methods
The Committee on Legal Issues Pertaining to Animals issued a report expressing support for H.R. 4269, the Battlefield Excellence through Superior Training Practices Act ('Best Practices Act'), which would require the Secretary of Defense to use only human-based methods for training members of the Armed Forces in the treatment of severe combat and chemical and biological injuries. The Best Practices Act (¡§Act¡¨) would require a complete phase-in, by October 1, 2013, of human-based methods for the training of the management of combat trauma injuries in courses funded by the Department of Defense rather than using animals in such training.
Extending Vital Rights to Same-Sex Domestic Partners of Hospital Patients
The Committees on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights and Health Law sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services noting that the proposed regulations 42 CFR 482.13(h) and 42 CFR 485.635(f) to extend vital rights to same-sex domestic partners of hospital patients by requiring that hospital patients have the right to receive designated visitors are limited in scope, as they make no provision for the many patients who lack capacity to make a specific designation of visitors upon admission to a hospital. The letter notes this significant limitation will prevent many patients from enjoying the intended expansion of visitation rights to same-sex partners and give many individuals a false sense of security in the expectation of a fuller scope of rights.
Commercial Rent Control Legislation
In light of current New York City Council legislation, Intro No. 154, which would allow commercial tenants who meet certain qualifications to renew their leases notwithstanding the property owner¡¦s desires or plans, the Committee on Real Property Law reissued and updated its report that addressed the question of whether or not the City Council can institute commercial rent control absent State enabling legislation. The report concluded that the power of a local government in New York State, such as the City, to enact local laws must be based upon a grant of authority found within its charter, the State Constitution, the Municipal Home Rule Law, or a State enabling statute, and that no State enabling statute expressly authorizes the City to control commercial rents. Further, the City Charter (the "Charter"), the State Constitution, and the Municipal Home Rule Law contain no express provision authorizing the City to control commercial rents.
Structuring Commercial Mortgage Securitization Special Purpose Entities After General Growth Properties
The filing by General Growth Properties, Inc (¡§GGP¡¨) and its subsidiaries (collectively, the ¡§GGP Group¡¨) of chapter 11 petitions and the decisions permitting the use of cash collateral and denying motions to dismiss the cases of GGP¡¦s special purpose entity (¡§SPE¡¨) subsidiaries have raised substantial concern among active participants in the commercial mortgage-backed securitization market. The Committee on Structured Finance issued a report that summarizes the events in the GGP case and describes possible modifications to the organizational documents for SPEs and credit documents for loans to SPEs to mitigate the risk that future secured lenders may suffer the same fate as the secured lenders in the GGP case.
Expert Disclosure in Commercial Cases
The Committee on State Courts of Superior Jurisdiction sent a letter to Chief Administrative Judge Pfau endorsing the proposed revisions to CPLR 3101(d)(1), which would expand expert disclosure in commercial cases and set a time frame for expert disclosure. The adoption of these proposals, the letter notes, would improve civil practice in New York State and better serve the administration of civil justice in the State.
Committees Seeking Members
The Asian Affairs Committee addresses a wide range of issues relating to Asia, such as technology transfer for climate change, rule of law, doing business with Asian countries, and significant legal and other developments in Asia. The committee is seeking members who have an interest in Asia. To apply please contact the Chair, Jaipat S. Jain, at email@example.com or 212.784.2418.
The Transportation Committee addresses federal, state, and local transportation law and policy issues. Getting from point A to point B in NYC raises a host of legal and regulatory issues, from transit strikes to congestion pricing, hybrid taxi requirements, and airline runway auctions. The Transportation Committee intends to tackle them all, with a lively and thought-provoking series of guest speakers and initiatives. To apply, please contact the chair, John Dellaportas, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nominating Committee Request
The Nominating Committee of the City Bar solicits your suggestions for candidates for the following offices and committee members for terms commencing May 2011: President, three Vice Presidents, Secretary, Treasurer, four Members of the Executive Committee (Class of 2015), and five Members of the Audit Committee. Please submit your suggestions to any member of the Committee by October 4, 2010. The Nominating Committee members are:
Pamela Rogers Chepiga
Allen & Overy LLP
1221 Ave of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
Ernest John Collazo
Collazo Florentino & Keil LLP
747 Third Avenue, Fl 25
New York, NY 10017-2803
Carey R. Dunne
Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
450 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10017-3940
Carol B. Liebman
Columbia University School of Law
435 W 116th Street
New York, NY 10027
Hon. Victor Marrero
US District Court (SDNY)
40 Centre Street, Rm 426
New York, NY 10007
Paul C. Saunders
Cravath Swaine & Moore LLP
825 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10019-7475
Judith M. Whiting
Community Service Society
105 E 22nd Street
New York, NY 10010