For Immediate Release
September 22, 2015
Contact: Phoebe Stonbely
Majority of New York Counties Call for Scaffold Law Reform
Citing lost jobs, cost to taxpayers, and increased injuries, county governments urge the state to act
(ALBANY, NY) – The Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York along with a coalition of business, municipal, and non-profit organizations announced today that thirty-two county legislatures – more than half of the state – have passed resolutions calling on the state government to reform the “Scaffold Law” law. The law, which only exists in New York, holds contractors and property owners, including counties, 100% liable in lawsuits for gravity-related construction injuries, regardless of any contributing fault by the employee.
“This is a manifestation of the massive grassroots support for reform of the Scaffold Law,” said Tom Stebbins, Executive Director of the Alliance, the group coordinating the effort. “County governments know first-hand how devastating the Scaffold Law can be, and today’s news is a reflection of local governments – and taxpayers’- frustration with the corruption and status quo in Albany.”
Stebbins connected the effort to the ongoing battle in Albany for mandate relief, “The Scaffold Law is really the mother of all mandates. It adds massive, unnecessary costs to every county budget and every property tax bill. Despite Governor Cuomo’s efforts, New York is still the worst in the nation for property taxes. As local governments work to stay under the property tax cap, this is one change that would provide much-needed relief.”
The county effort began when Erie County, home to the City of Buffalo, passed the first resolution urging the Governor, Assembly Speaker, and Majority Leader to reform the Scaffold Law. Since then thirty-one more counties have passed similar resolutions.
Upon hearing the news that the majority of New York counties have followed Erie County’s lead, Erie County Legislature Majority Leader Joseph Lorigo said, “I am proud that Erie County was able to lead the charge in calling for the reform of antiquated labor laws, such as the Scaffold Law. These measures drive up the cost of projects, deter development, and contribute to New York State’s reputation as being the least business friendly state. It is great to see that counties throughout the state have passed resolutions similar to Erie County’s and it is my hope that our state leaders listen and finally take action to reform labor laws. These outdated policies are no longer necessary and only hinder growth.”
The Coalition indicated that they expect several other counties to pass resolutions supporting Scaffold Law reform over the coming months. Stebbins explained, “the Scaffold Law continues to be a massive, unnecessary cost to counties and taxpayers. As more and more legislatures understand the law and its’ devastating impacts, we expect more and more resolutions to pass.”
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The Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York (LRANY) is a nonpartisan not-for-profit association of businesses, professionals, healthcare providers, membership organizations, taxpayers, and concerned citizens committed to changing New York’s legal system to help create jobs and energize our economy.