NEW YORK (6/11/13)--The New York State Court of Appeals has overturned a lower court ruling that had blocked a state law that would have allowed the sale of more New York City yellow taxi medallions. That ruling had supported a claim by credit union lenders that the state violated the "home rule" provision of the State Constitution, and the court of appeals decision is a blow to the credit union side.
The six-judge panel of the Court of Appeals, in a unanimous decision last week, rejected arguments by the taxi groups, including credit unions, that the Street Hail Livery Law, or Hail Act, was invalid because it came in the form of a law adopted by the state legislature instead of the city council (Reuters June 6).
"It has not been demonstrated that the act 'repealed, diminished, impaired or suspended' any power in 'a statute of local governments,'" the court stated in its ruling.
New York City challenged a previous ruling by New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur F. Engoron that New York City taxi service is not a matter of substantial state interest or concern and "a law that shifts power from the city's legislative branch to its executive branch, and micro-manages the exercise of that power, fails to bear a reasonable relationship to any such interest or concern."
Taxicab Service Association (TSA)--an association of credit union lenders that finance the yellow taxi medallion purchases in New York--had asked the court to invalidate the Hail Act, which was passed in 2011 to shore up an insufficient supply of taxis in the city and its outer boroughs (News Now Aug. 22, 2012). The Hail Act allowed up to 18,000 new taxi licenses in the city and its outer boroughs, according to court documents.
"As lenders, credit unions were concerned that the influx of medallions would have a negative impact of the current value of medallions that are out there and outstanding," Michael A. Lanotte, Credit Union Association of New York senior vice president of association services and general counsel, told News Now Monday.
Taxi medallions are symbols that are usually attached to the hood of New York City cabs. The medallions are licenses that are regulated by the city and allow drivers to pick up curb-side passengers who hail a cab.