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Citizens for Faso

Ousted GOP Congressman: Repeal Scaffold Law

John Faso is pushing the Transportation Department to withhold funds from important projects in NY until the state repeals the law

Kris LaGrange's picture
Nov 27, 2018

Thanks to strong unions in New York, the construction industry faces some of the toughest safety and personal liability rules in the country. One such law that is unique to New York is called the Scaffold Law. This law says that on a construction project if a worker gets injured there is absolute liability on the contractor and property owner. While this law has been around for over 120 years, many real estate developers and contractors have tried and failed to get the state to overturn it, but one New York Congressman is using his last two months in office to try and get the federal government to do what the New York State government won’t.

John Faso, a Congressman from the Hudson Valley of New York, lost his election to Antonio Delgado. A little over a week after losing, Faso penned a letter to US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao asking her to include a new clause in contracts between her department and states the forbids the implementation of absolute liability laws. In effect, Faso is asking the Federal government to hold important money for projects like the Long Island Railroad going to Grand Central Station and Gateway hostage until New York lawmakers make construction sites less safe.

Unsurprisingly, Faso was endorsed by the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), as well receiving money from construction and real estates interests like Peter Kalikow, John Catsimatidis, Carl Petrillo, and the National Association of Home Builders. Faso has also previously introduced legislation in Congress to prevent any state from having an absolute liability law, but his efforts have all failed to pass the Congress.

Below is an excerpt from the letter that was obtained by Crain’s.

"New York's law results in considerable waste of federal taxpayer resources. While I strongly support and recognize the need for Gateway, I do not believe federal funds should be wasted paying for an outmoded state liability standard. I urge you to use your regulatory authority to preempt this burdensome state law. By requiring no funds may be allocated towards a project in which an absolute liability standard may be applied, you can stretch funds allocated to NYS projects further than previously realized."

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