The actions of government officials can have a profound impact on business, industry, and individuals. The Government Affairs practice group at Harter Secrest & Emery is a full-service government relations practice that has represented the interests of our clients in New York State for over thirty years. Our experienced attorneys provide strategic advice and counsel to our clients regarding the nuances of New York State government and perform the day-to-day functions of government relations representation such as: arranging for the introduction of bills; tracking the progress of proposed regulations; arranging for meetings; preparing hearing testimony; lobbying to secure or modify legislation and administrative action on behalf of clients; and working to identify and secure government funding.
Advice and Strategic Planning
Our attorneys work closely with clients to assess their needs and goals in New York. Once determined, we work with clients to develop appropriate and innovative strategies based on the intricacies of New York State government. This guidance and strategic review are ongoing from the initial representation throughout the entire process as it is often necessary to change and adjust to factors beyond the control of the client.
Visibility in Albany
Our hands-on approach creates visibility for clients in the State Capitol by maintaining contact with state legislators, the Governor’s office, and appropriate state agencies. Visibility means that our clients not only have name recognition with key government officials in Albany but also that these government officials know the goals, successes, and importance of our clients to New York State. This also means that when a subject matter expert is needed, they know we are a resource that can be called upon.
Interaction with New York State Government
Working closely with client representatives, our attorneys coordinate and assist efforts to contact individual legislators, legislative staff members, members of the Governor’s staff, or appropriate agency representatives. This can be done through one-on-one meetings as needed, large scale lobby day efforts or through participation and attendance at key hearings and other events.
We have established a reputation for effective and successful advocacy through ongoing dialogue with state officials and staff who are the decisionmakers in areas that affect our clients’ interests. Our attorneys are on the ground in Albany, and travel through the state as needed, to ensure our clients have active and engaged representation throughout the legislative session and beyond.
Immediate and Appropriate Reaction
Professionals in the practice monitor the thousands of pieces of state legislation, proposed regulations, legislative hearings and roundtables and state policy proposals, which could impact our clients. Actions in Albany can happen quickly and often without advance notice, so our attorneys assist in communicating clients’ positions on these items to the appropriate individuals in real time.
Communication is key. Our attorneys are in regular contact with our clients. Whether it be a regularly scheduled weekly call, text message or written report, we work with our clients to tailor our communications to their needs. For all clients, we prepare bill track information detailing activities on specific bills of interest to them and provide general updates on significant and important developments in Albany.
Where we started: Our client, the New York State Telecommunications Association (NYSTA), is an Association representing over forty telecommunications carriers providing advanced telecommunications and broadband services in New York. NYSTA provides its members a strong and respected voice in the State Capitol. We were retained by NYSTA over 25 years ago to represent the Association on legislative issues.
Our strategy: We work with NYSTA through its President and Board to develop and implement legislative strategies to advance the interests of those companies working in the telecommunications industry in New York. We evaluate proposed legislation for its potential impact and meet with legislators and staff to discuss these proposals and its impact on the Association’s members and their consumers. We also evaluate industry needs and work to propose new legislative initiatives that will help make New York more competitive in the telecommunications space.
The outcome: We have developed a long-term relationship with NYSTA and will continue to work with them to develop their legislative strategy. Working with NYSTA means working with companies of all sizes and helping the Association develop a strategy that will take into account the needs of all the Association members.
Where we started: The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Legislative Conference Board represents 13 locals located throughout New York State, who collectively represent approximately 26,000 transit and school bus drivers. These drivers work for the MTA, the four upstate transit authorities, the New York City school bus industry and various other transportation entities around New York State. We began representing them in 2004 in connection with a proposal dealing with public transit.
Our strategy: We represent the ATU in all state legislative matters. We work with them to develop their legislative priorities each year. We identify issues of importance that will require legislation to pass, and we assess legislation that may have a negative impact on the locals and their members. We also work with the ATU to review funding allocations and ensure that there is adequate funding for public transportation in New York State.
The outcome: We have seen a steady increase in funding for the transportation authorities in New York State over the years of our representation of the ATU. We recently successfully advocated for a dedicated funding stream for upstate transit, which had been a priority of the ATU for years. We’ve also seen successful passage of legislation to protect transit workers and ensure maintenance of service routes throughout the state.