Preliminary Guide to Environmental Sources
Current Functions. The Department of State is responsible for a wide variety of licensing, regulatory, record-keeping, municipal assistance, and planning functions. The department licenses and regulates real estate brokers and salespersons; barbers; cosmetologists and hair dressers; private investigators; watch guard and patrol agencies; the manufacture, renovation, and sale of articles of bedding and upholstered furniture; apartment information vendors; and hearing aid dealers. It registers charitable organizations, trademarks, trading stamp companies, hotel and motel names, and games of chance utilized in promoting retail sales. It also supervises the administration of cemetery corporations. Notaries and commissioners of deeds in other states and territories are appointed by the Department of State.
The department is the official office of record for filing many documents, including executive proclamations, commissions, pardons and commutations; land patents; laws signed by the governor; financing statements under the Uniform Commercial Code; and certificates of incorporation except for banking, insurance, or educational corporations. As an extension of its record-keeping function, the department certifies copies of State laws and publishes the Legislative Manual; the Official Compilation of Codes, Rules and Regulations of the State of New York; and the New York State Register, the official State publication announcing proposed administrative regulations.
It coordinates fire safety activities of State and local agencies and advises and assists local governments with planning and development activities. The department administers the State's coastal-management program and ensures that efforts concerning the coastal zone are useful to the planning, development, and regulatory activities of State, regional, and local agencies. It also provides oversight, technical assistance, guidance, and training programs for local governments and local code-enforcement officials in support of the Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code. The department is the administrative location for the State Athletic Commission and the State Ethics Commission and serves as secretariat to the Committee on Open Government. The secretary of state serves as a member of several State boards and commissions.
Organizational History. The office of Secretary of State was inherited from the colonial period during which the secretary of the Province of New Netherland and the secretary of the Colony of New York acted as clerks to the governor's council and maintained the records of the colonial governments. Although neither the first State constitution of 1777 nor any statute specifically created the office within State government, the Council of Appointment appointed a Secretary of State in 1778. Records of the colonial governments were immediately transferred to the Secretary, thus establishing the office's role as records custodian. Beginning with oaths of office in 1778 (Chapter 7), several statutes in subsequent years required the official filing of specific documents or records with the Secretary.
The means of selecting the Secretary of State changed several times. The State constitution of 1821, which abolished the Council of Appointment, provided that the Secretary be selected by the legislature. The State's third constitution of 1846 made the office elective. It remained that way until 1926 (Chapter 437), when the act creating the modern Department of State allowed the governor to appoint the Secretary as head of the new department.
From the year the first Secretary was appointed, the office was assigned certain duties by statute. In 1778 the Secretary was made ex officio clerk of the Council of Appointment. Several years later (Laws of 1784, Chapter 60), the Secretary was designated a Commissioner of the Land Office. When the commissioners of the canal fund were established in 1817 (Chapter 262), the secretary was a member. In 1821 (Chapter 240) the office of superintendent of common schools was abolished and its duties transferred to the secretary of state, where they remained until they were transferred to the newly created Department of Public Instruction in 1854. The Secretary also was a member of the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York by virtue of his office from 1842 (Chapter 142) to 1904 (Chapter 40), when ex officio membership on the board was ended.
The 1925-26 constitutional reorganization of State government resulted in the creation of the Department of State in 1926 (Chapter 437), with the Secretary of State as department head. As constituted by law, the department included the Board of Commissioners of the Land Office, of which the Secretary was chairperson (transferred to the Office of General Services by the Laws of 1960, Chapter 462); the State Athletic Commission, which regulated boxing and the members of which were appointed by the Secretary; the State Racing Commission, which regulated horse racing and whose members were appointed by the Secretary (duties transferred to the New York State Racing and Wagering Board in the Executive Department by the Laws of 1973, Chapter 346); the State Board of Canvassers, which certified election results and whose administrative staff was provided by the department; the port wardens of the Port of New York, whose members were appointed by the Secretary (abolished by the Laws of 1928, Chapter 377); the Hell Gate Pilots, who were appointed by the Secretary (transferred to the Board of Commissioners of Pilots by the Laws of 1939, Chapter 661); and a Division of Licenses responsible for the regulation and licensing of various business activities.
In 1975 (Chapter 464), the Office for Local Government (established by the Laws of 1959, Chapter 335) and the Office of Planning Services (previously the Office of Planning Coordination, established by the Laws of 1966, Chapter 528, and changed to the Office of Planning Services by the Laws of 1971, Chapter 75) were abolished and their functions transferred to the Department of State. These functions included coordinating fire services in the State and advising and assisting local governments in their planning and resource development activities.
When the State's Freedom of Information Law was revised in 1977 (Chapter 933), the secretary of state was made a member and secretariat of the Committee on Public Access to Records created in 1974 (Chapter 579) to administer the law.
In 1983, Executive Order No. 23 established the Office of New York State Ombudsman under the jurisdiction of the secretary of state. Among other things, the office serves as a clearinghouse for information relating to services to which persons are entitled; provides referral services for individuals seeking federal, State, or local assistance; and investigates complaints concerning the delivery of services by State agencies.
The Ethics in Government Act (Laws of 1987, Chapter 73) created the State Ethics Commission to interpret, administer, and enforce the provisions of the law. The commission, receives, files, and reviews annual financial disclosure statements of policy-making officials of the State's departments, divisions, and agencies and issues advisory opinions concerning possible conflicts of interest resulting from financial holdings or outside employment. Loosely organized within the Department of State, the Board of Public Disclosure also makes determinations on activities covered by the State ethics law and issues advisory opinions to the governor.
The office of the Secretary of State has served as the general recording office for State government since its creation in 1778. Cognizant of the historical value of many of the records in the secretary's custody, the legislature authorized by concurrent resolution in 1847 the transfer of the most valuable of these records to the New York State Library. The first transfer occurred shortly thereafter, and the library continued to accept and preserve records from the department until 1978, when custody of these records was transferred to the newly-created New York State Archives.
SECRETARY OF STATE/DEPARTMENT OF STATE
|Division of Coastal Resources and Waterfront Revitalization|
|19599||Federal consistency project review files, 1982-1989.
166 cu. ft.
|19598||Coastal zone program files, 1990-1991.
2 cu. ft.
|19603||Coastal erosion program files, 1990-1994.
3 cu. ft.
|A3318||Adirondack Park land use planning county maps, 1973.
6 cu. ft. (including 18 maps)