Letter: Rebuild Framework for Scaffold Law

In today’s Crain’s New York Business, Reverend Jacques Andre DeGraff and Lou Colletti, Co-Chairs of the Alliance for Minority and Women Construction Businesses, urge the legislature to act on reasonable Scaffold Law reform.

The expression “Nero fiddled while Rome burned” seems appropriate for the current debate in Albany over New York’s misnamed scaffold law. While people lose jobs, minority- and women-owned business firms are placed at risk, taxpayers are kept on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars in insurance costs and claims, classrooms fail to get built and our infrastructure crumbles, there has been a serious lack of action in the Legislature.

The reason—as Gov. Andrew Cuomo told Crain’s last month—is the outsize political influence of the trial bar in New York.

A recent report by the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York titled “The Power of Attorney: Exploring the Influence of the Trial Bar in New York State Politics in 2014,” analyzed the political contributions of trial attorneys in the state.

It found that in 2013, trial lawyers’ special-interest groups spent a record $1,147,139 lobbying New York state elected officials, a 9.7% increase over the previous year and up 37% since 2010. They also gave a whopping $1,280,639 in direct political contributions to New York state elected officials. You don’t have to be a genius to figure out why reform isn’t being seriously considered this legislative session.

Read the full letter here

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