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S07287 Text:

                STATE OF NEW YORK
                    IN SENATE
                                    January 16, 2020
        Introduced  by Sens. BAILEY, SKOUFIS, BIAGGI, KAVANAGH -- read twice and
          ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee  on
          Housing,   Construction   and   Community   Development  --  committee
          discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted
          to said committee
        AN ACT to amend the executive law, in relation to increasing  the  state
          code enforcement powers of the secretary of state
          The  People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-
        bly, do enact as follows:
     1    Section 1. Paragraph b of subdivision 1 of section 381 of  the  execu-
     2  tive  law,  as amended by chapter 560 of the laws of 2010, is amended to
     3  read as follows:
     4    b. the adequate number [and] of staff required to meet  the  needs  of
     5  the  locality to be determined by looking at factors, including, but not
     6  limited to, population and geographic area,
     7    b-1. the qualifications of staff, including requirements that  inspec-
     8  tors be certified pursuant to this chapter,
     9    § 2. Paragraph c of subdivision 4 of section 381 of the executive law,
    10  as  added by chapter 707 of the laws of 1981, is amended and a new para-
    11  graph e is added to read as follows:
    12    c. [the] The secretary may designate the county in  which  such  local
    13  government is located to administer and enforce the uniform code in such
    14  local  government.  In  the  case of such designation, the provisions of
    15  subdivision five of this section shall apply.
    16    e. The secretary may  place  an  oversight  official  within  a  local
    17  government  to  monitor and ensure compliance with the minimum standards
    18  for administration and enforcement of the uniform code.   The  oversight
    19  official  shall be a state officer with expertise and experience in code
    20  enforcement and other qualifications determined by the secretary  to  be
    21  appropriate  for  the  position.  The placement of an oversight official
    22  shall be for a period of up to one year and  extended  as  necessary  as
    23  determined  by  the  secretary. Local government staff shall comply with
    24  all directives issued  by  the  oversight  official.    Oversight  shall
    25  include,  but  not be limited to, research and data collection to deter-
         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.

        S. 7287--A                          2
     1  mine the needs of the local government in order to achieve minimum stan-
     2  dards of code enforcement, providing assistance with capacity  building,
     3  and providing assistance with resolving complaints.
     4    §  3.  The  executive  law is amended by adding a new section 381-a to
     5  read as follows:
     6    § 381-a. State code enforcement ombudsperson. 1. Definitions.  For the
     7  purposes of this section:
     8    a. "Secretary" means the secretary of state;
     9    b. "Code enforcement" means the administration and enforcement of  the
    10  uniform fire prevention code and building code promulgated in accordance
    11  with  sections  three  hundred  seventy-seven and three hundred seventy-
    12  eight of this article and the state energy conservation code adopted  in
    13  accordance with article eleven of the energy law, and any local building
    14  and fire regulations enacted or adopted by any local government that are
    15  in  effect  pursuant to section three hundred seventy-nine of this arti-
    16  cle; and
    17    c. "Ombudsperson" shall mean the state code enforcement ombudsperson.
    18    2. Office of the state code  enforcement  ombudsperson.  a.  There  is
    19  hereby  established the office of state code enforcement ombudsperson in
    20  the department of state division of building standards and codes,  which
    21  shall  be  headed  by the state code enforcement ombudsperson, who shall
    22  carry out the duties established in this section.
    23    b. The office of the state code enforcement ombudsperson is a distinct
    24  entity, separately identifiable and located  within  the  department  of
    25  state division of building standards and codes.
    26    c.  The  secretary shall not establish personnel policies or practices
    27  which prohibit  the  ombudsperson  from  performing  the  functions  and
    28  responsibilities of the ombudsperson, pursuant to this section.
    29    d.  Nothing in this section shall prohibit the secretary of state from
    30  requiring that the ombudsperson, or other employees  of  the  office  of
    31  state  code  enforcement  ombudsperson, adhere to the personnel policies
    32  and procedures of the department of state.
    33    3. State code enforcement ombudsperson. a. The secretary shall appoint
    34  a full-time ombudsperson to administer and supervise the office  of  the
    35  state code enforcement ombudsperson.
    36    b.  The ombudsperson shall be selected from individuals with expertise
    37  and experience in code enforcement and other  qualifications  determined
    38  by the secretary to be appropriate for the position.
    39    c.  Any actual and potential conflicts of interest shall be identified
    40  and addressed in accordance with subdivision seven of this section.
    41    d. The ombudsperson, personally or through authorized representatives,
    42  shall:
    43    (1) identify,  investigate  and  resolve  complaints  that  relate  to
    44  actions or inactions of a local code enforcement program. The ombudsper-
    45  son  may,  in  pursuing its investigation, visit any locality conducting
    46  code enforcement at any time without prior  notice.    Local  government
    47  staff  shall  cooperate  with  the investigation. The ombudsperson shall
    48  have the right to inspect all  aspects  of  a  local  government's  code
    49  enforcement  program,  visit all areas and observe all parts and aspects
    50  of the program. Nothing in this section shall be construed as  authoriz-
    51  ing the state ombudsperson to assume powers delegated to the secretary;
    52    (2) present significant complaints to the secretary regarding a local-
    53  ity's failure to meet minimum standards of code enforcement, the locali-
    54  ty's failure to adopt recommendations for resolution by the ombudsperson
    55  and any recommendations for intervention by the secretary;

        S. 7287--A                          3
     1    (3)  recommend to the secretary policies and procedures for the ombud-
     2  sperson program;
     3    (4)  recommend  policies,  regulations  and  legislation  designed  to
     4  enhance code enforcement;
     5    (5) monitor the implementation of  policies  and  regulations  of  the
     6  office  and  of the rules and regulations of other state and local agen-
     7  cies, as such may be applicable to code enforcement;
     8    (6) advise and assist localities with adhering  to  minimum  standards
     9  for administration and code enforcement; and
    10    (7)  report  to  the  secretary the status of complaints on a periodic
    11  basis, but not less than once per quarter. Such report shall indicate  a
    12  complaint has been resolved and the manner in which it was resolved, the
    13  status  of  implementation of any recommendations made by the ombudsper-
    14  son, and whether the ombudsperson recommends intervention by the  secre-
    15  tary.
    16    Notwithstanding  any  other  provision of law, the office of the state
    17  code enforcement ombudsperson shall have access to, including the  right
    18  to  inspect  and copy, any records necessary to carry out its powers and
    19  duties under this section, excluding those protected by statutory privi-
    20  lege. Consistent with applicable laws and regulations, the confidential-
    21  ity of all records and documents obtained  must  be  maintained  by  the
    22  office of the ombudsperson;
    23    4.  Assistant ombudspeople. The ombudsperson, with the approval of the
    24  secretary, may appoint one or  more  assistant  state  code  enforcement
    25  ombudspeople  to  assist  the  ombudsperson  in the performance of their
    26  duties under this section. Each such assistant ombudsperson must  be  an
    27  attorney  duly  authorized  to  practice law in the state of New York or
    28  must be verified as having certification as a code enforcement official.
    29    5. Complaint submission. The ombudsperson, in  consultation  with  the
    30  secretary,  shall develop a complaint process that permits complaints to
    31  be submitted electronically through the internet, over  the  phone,  via
    32  facsimile or through regular mail.
    33    6.  The  secretary shall promulgate rules and regulations with respect
    34  to a complaint investigation and review process by the ombudsperson that
    35  shall include, but is not limited to, the following features:
    36    a. Upon receipt of  a  complaint,  the  ombudsperson  shall  determine
    37  whether there are reasonable grounds for an investigation.
    38    b. Upon completion of an investigation, the ombudsperson shall issue a
    39  report  detailing  their  findings, recommendations for resolutions, and
    40  recommendations for intervention by the secretary, if any.
    41    c. Should the local code enforcement program decline to adopt  any  of
    42  the  ombudsperson's  recommendations,  the ombudsperson shall notify the
    43  secretary and include the report with any additional recommendations for
    44  intervention by the secretary.
    45    7. Conflict of interest. The  secretary  and  the  ombudsperson  shall
    46  consider  both  the  organizational and individual conflicts of interest
    47  that may impact the effectiveness and credibility of  the  work  of  the
    48  office of the state code enforcement ombudsperson. Accordingly, both the
    49  secretary  and  the ombudsperson shall be responsible to identify actual
    50  and potential conflicts and,  where  a  conflict  has  been  identified,
    51  remove or remedy such conflict.
    52    8.  Regulations. The secretary, in consultation with the ombudsperson,
    53  is authorized to promulgate  rules  and  regulations  to  implement  the
    54  provisions of this section.
    55    9.  Annual  report.  On  or before December thirty-first, two thousand
    56  twenty-one, and annually thereafter, the ombudsperson  shall  submit  to

        S. 7287--A                          4
     1  the  governor,  the  secretary  of state, the temporary president of the
     2  senate and the speaker of the assembly a report  and  make  such  report
     3  available to the public:
     4    a.  describing  the  activities carried out by the office of the state
     5  code enforcement ombudsperson during the prior calendar year;
     6    b. containing and analyzing data relating to complaints;
     7    c. evaluating the problems experienced by tenants and owners;
     8    d. containing recommendations for appropriate state legislation;
     9    e. describing barriers that  prevent  the  optimal  operation  of  the
    10  ombudsperson program;
    11    f.  describing  any organizational conflicts of interest in the ombud-
    12  sperson program that have been identified and the steps taken to  remove
    13  or remedy such conflicts; and
    14    g.  any  other  matters  as the ombudsperson, in consultation with the
    15  secretary, determines to be appropriate.
    16    § 4. This act shall take effect on the one hundred eightieth day after
    17  it shall have become a law; provided, however, that section two of  this
    18  act  shall  take effect on the sixtieth day after it shall have become a
    19  law.  Effective immediately, the addition, amendment  and/or  repeal  of
    20  any  rule  or regulation necessary for the implementation of this act on
    21  its effective date are authorized to be made and completed on or  before
    22  such effective date.
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