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A07372 Summary:

BILL NOA07372A
 
SAME ASSAME AS S06606-A
 
SPONSORThiele
 
COSPNSRReyes, Levenberg, Stirpe, Rosenthal L, Kelles, Colton, Simone, Stern, Durso, Gandolfo, Jacobson, Otis
 
MLTSPNSR
 
Amd 3-0305, En Con L; amd 3.17, Pks & Rec L; amd 63, Exec L
 
Authorizes the attorney general to approve certain state land acquisitions made for the purposes of land conservation, and to accept a title policy from a commercial insurer to cover any title defects that would otherwise render the title unmarketable.
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A07372 Memo:

NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY
MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION
submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
 
BILL NUMBER: A7372A
 
SPONSOR: Thiele
  TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the environmental conservation law, the parks, recre- ation and historic preservation law, and the executive law, in relation to authorizing the attorney general to approve certain state land acqui- sitions made for the purposes of land conservation   PURPOSE: The purpose of this bill is to streamline and accelerate the state's acquisition of land for purposes of meeting the state's conservation goals by enabling the attorney general to use title insurance in its process of reviewing land titles.   SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: This bill amends section 3-0305 of the environmental conservation law and subdivision 1 of section 3.17 of the parks, recreation and historic preservation law by providing authority to the attorney general to approve title from commercial insurers where the title policy names the state of New York as the insured. The bill adds a new subdivision 17 to section 63 of the executive law to provide that the attorney general's powers and duties include the abili- ty to approve land acquisitions made by the state for conservation purposes in accordance with amendments made above to section 3-0305 of the ECL and section 3.17 of the Parks law. ** Amendments to this bill make the use of title insurance an option rather than a mandate. The language now reads the attorney general "may" use instead of "shall" use.   JUSTIFICATION: To meet the ambitious goals of New York's Climate Action Plan, the New York State "30 x 30" law (CH.747 of the Laws of 2022), and to meet the expectations of voters who approved the Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act, state agencies are directed to protect and conserve significantly more land each year. For example, if New York is to achieve one of its "30 x 30" targets, it is estimated that the state and its land trust partners together will have to conserve and protect approximately 225,000 acres per year over the next eight years. However, based on the Annual State Land Acquisition report, https://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/5069.html, the results of recent years make clear that the state is not even close to attaining this pace. In 2020, DEC & OPRHP combined acquired 6,005 acres, and in 2022, DEC acquired 4,416 acres. The backlog is caused in part by lengthy title review at the Office of Attorney General. Currently, the Office of Attorney General does not accept title insur- ance and instead undertakes its own review of land titles going back 100 years or more. This standard is established by longstanding tradition at the Attorney General's Office, not by statute, and involves long look- back title abstracting, painstaking title review and often the time-con- suming and costly pre-closing resolution of title issues that a commer- cial insurer would consider a remote and insurable risk. Other states and federal government land agencies, as well as private parties, share concerns about title risk but have found reliance on commercial insur- ance, used in combination with careful and thoughtful title due dili- gence, to be a mitigation measure that is well-accepted for satisfactory title risk amelioration. New York law requires the Attorney General to approve title (see ECL § 3-0305(1) and PRHPL § 3.17(1)) but is otherwise silent on the standards for acceptability. This bill will ensure that there is statutory clarity with respect to the standard for accepting title, and accordingly promote the policies underlying the 30x30 law and other policy-based decisions that require the State to accelerate its land acquisition. Providing in statute that N ew York State will follow the modern practice of accepting insurable title will remove a barrier to achieving the goals of many state programs.   LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: New bill   FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: Undetermined   EFFECTIVE DATE: Immediately
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A07372 Text:



 
                STATE OF NEW YORK
        ________________________________________________________________________
 
                                         7372--A
 
                               2023-2024 Regular Sessions
 
                   IN ASSEMBLY
 
                                      May 18, 2023
                                       ___________
 
        Introduced  by  M. of A. THIELE, REYES, LEVENBERG, STIRPE, L. ROSENTHAL,
          KELLES, COLTON, SIMONE, STERN, DURSO, GANDOLFO, JACOBSON, OTIS -- read
          once and referred to the Committee on  Environmental  Conservation  --
          recommitted  to the Committee on Environmental Conservation in accord-
          ance with Assembly Rule  3,  sec.  2  --  committee  discharged,  bill
          amended,  ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted to said commit-
          tee
 
        AN ACT to amend the environmental conservation law,  the  parks,  recre-
          ation  and  historic  preservation  law,  and  the  executive  law, in
          relation to authorizing the attorney general to approve certain  state
          land acquisitions made for the purposes of land conservation
 
          The  People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-
        bly, do enact as follows:
 
     1    Section 1.  Legislative  intent.  The  legislature  hereby  finds  and
     2  declares  that  in order to achieve our state's land protection goals as
     3  promoted in the Climate Action Plan, the "30 by  30"  land  conservation
     4  law  (chapter  747  of  the  laws of 2022), and the financial commitment
     5  within the 2022 Bond Act, additional measures are needed  to  accelerate
     6  the  process  whereby  the state acquires land. Specifically, the review
     7  process by the attorney general's office can be streamlined by  enabling
     8  the  use  of  title insurance. This will also relieve land trusts of the
     9  financial burden of holding onto land, in trust, for years  at  a  time.
    10  Further,  it  will  reduce  the  backlog of pending acquisitions that is
    11  unnecessarily jeopardizing the solvency of many of these organizations.
    12    § 2. Subdivision 1 of section 3-0305 of the environmental conservation
    13  law, as added by chapter 727 of the laws of 1978, is amended to read  as
    14  follows:
    15    1. The commissioner when moneys therefor have been appropriated by the
    16  legislature  or  are  otherwise available, may acquire any real property
    17  which he or she deems necessary for any of the purposes or functions  of
    18  the  department, by purchase or as provided in the eminent domain proce-
 
         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                                   LBD10532-03-3

        A. 7372--A                          2
 
     1  dure law. Title to such real property shall be taken in the name of  and
     2  be vested in the people of the state of New York. No real property shall
     3  be  so  acquired by purchase unless the title thereto is approved by the
     4  attorney  general.  The  attorney general may approve any title where it
     5  has determined that the current owner can convey marketable title to the
     6  real property. The  attorney  general  may  accept  from  any  reputable
     7  commercial insurer, a title policy naming the people of the state of New
     8  York as insured, with such policy to cover any title defects which would
     9  otherwise  render  the title unmarketable. The terms "property" or "real
    10  property" as used in this section shall mean "real property" as  defined
    11  by section one hundred three of the eminent domain procedure law.
    12    §  3.  Subdivision  1  of  section  3.17  of the parks, recreation and
    13  historic preservation law, as amended by chapter  727  of  the  laws  of
    14  1978, is amended to read as follows:
    15    1.  Notwithstanding  any  other provision of law, the commissioner may
    16  acquire such property as may be necessary for the purposes and functions
    17  of the office, within the amounts appropriated or  available  therefore.
    18  Such  property may be acquired pursuant to the provisions of the eminent
    19  domain procedure law, or by purchase, lease, exchange, grant,  condemna-
    20  tion, gift, devise, bequest, or by any other lawful means. No real prop-
    21  erty  shall  be  so acquired unless the title thereto is approved by the
    22  attorney general. The attorney general may approve any  title  where  it
    23  has determined that the current owner can convey marketable title to the
    24  real  property.  The  attorney  general  may  accept  from any reputable
    25  commercial insurer, a title policy naming the people of the state of New
    26  York as insured, with such policy to cover any title defects which would
    27  otherwise render the title unmarketable. Notwithstanding the  provisions
    28  of  section eleven of the state finance law, the commissioner may accept
    29  a conditional grant, gift, devise or bequest with the  approval  of  the
    30  director  of  the budget. Title to real property which is acquired shall
    31  be taken in the name of and be vested in the people of the state of  New
    32  York.
    33    § 4. Section 63 of the executive law is amended by adding a new subdi-
    34  vision 17 to read as follows:
    35    17.  Be  authorized to approve land acquisitions made by the state for
    36  conservation purposes, in accordance with the provisions of  subdivision
    37  one of section 3-0305 of the environmental conservation law and subdivi-
    38  sion one of section 3.17 of the parks, recreation and historic preserva-
    39  tion law.
    40    § 5. This act shall take effect immediately.
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