New York’s Cuomo Wants to Extend AV Testing

Among a number of other priorities, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive budget outlines the extension of autonomous vehicle testing in the state and a proposal that would ban cellphone use for young drivers.

by Matthew Hamilton, Times Union / January 18, 2018

(TNS) — ALBANY — Attention hotel mini-bar aficionados: Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive budget has good news for you.

Cuomo wants to expand access to room service and mini-bars to hotels that don’t have full service restaurants through the state budget this year, one of numerous policy platforms tucked into the governor’s lengthy spending plan proposal.

His budget also would require adults to buckle up in the backseat, extend autonomous car testing in the Empire State and expand the sales tax exemption for vending machine sales.

Here are some odds and ends in the Cuomo budget plan:

Stopped school bus provisions: We knew after the State of the State that the governor wants to increase fines for passing a stopped school bus (currently $250 for a first offense). But the budget plan also would allow school districts to enter into contract with third party organizations to install cameras on school bus stop arms. The cameras would operate like speed cameras, recording the license plates of violators, who could then be required to pay a fine. It’s important to note that Cuomo does not foresee the state paying for these cameras; rather, school districts could receive the fines paid out by those who are caught on camera.

Let non-CPAs make partner at accounting firms: This issue has been kicking around for a few sessions and has been brought up by Cuomo before. Essentially, accounting firms have sought the ability to allow, say, an IT specialist, to receive a minority ownership stake as an incentive to attract high-caliber talent. Under Cuomo’s proposal, a firm that gives minority ownership to a non-certified public accountant wouldn’t be able to have certified public accountant or CPA in the firm’s name.

More mini-bars and room service: As mentioned above, Cuomo wants to remove the requirement that hotels have a full restaurant on site in order to obtain a license to offer room service or mini-bars, creating a new permit for such hotels.

Buckle up in the back seat: Cuomo proposed this last year, but it didn’t get through: He wants legislation to require all back seat passengers to wear seat belts. Under current law, children under the age of 16 must wear a seat belt in the back seat.

No more cell phones for young drivers: As part of a package of passenger car-related statutory amendments, Cuomo also wants to ban even hands-free mobile phone and electronic device use for junior permit and junior license holders (those under 18).

Extending autonomous vehicle testing: This also was in Cuomo’s State of the State plans: He wants to allow the state autonomous vehicle testing program to continue into 2020 instead of expiring later this year. Audi tested its autonomous vehicle technology in Albany last year, and additional testing by other companies elsewhere is planned. Cuomo’s legislation also appears to remove a provision that requires testing to take place under the direct supervision of State Police.

Expanding the vending machine sales tax exemption: This change might not seriously impact consumers’ wallets, but Cuomo wants to exempt from sales tax food and drink purchases from vending machines that are capable of accepting “cashless” payments (for example, a credit card). Under current tax law, food and drink costing less than $1.50 is exempt from sales tax for vending machines that accept coin and currency.

©2018 the Times Union (Albany, N.Y.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.