2004 LEGISLATIVE PROGRAM - CONSTRUCTION
Following is The Business Council's 2004 Legislative Program. It identifies priority issues to be addressed by the Committees and Councils during 2004.
Safety and Liability
Create a fair and equitable civil justice system by:
- Supporting efforts to encourage the availability and affordability of liability insurance.
- Supporting amendments to Sections 240 and 241 of the Labor Law to clarify the responsibilities and liabilities of owners, contractors and others in the construction process.
- Creating a statute of repose for engineers, architects and contractors.
Also, support legislation and regulation which would:
- Promulgate comprehensive written rules and regulations implementing the Voluntary Safety Program (established through the 1996 Workers' Comp Reform Act) which would increase workplace safety by allowing employers with premiums greater than $5,000/year and safety mods below 1.3 who voluntarily establish certified safety and loss prevention programs to be eligible to receive a 5 percent premium credit for up to two years.
- Support legislation which would allow all industries (including construction) to be eligible for the Safety Premium Credit program. This program allows companies to take 5 percent of their investment in new technologies and apply it as a credit against workers' comp premiums up to 15 percent of their total premium for three years.
- Support legislation which would allow safety groups insured through the State Insurance Fund to be eligible for safety incentive credits.
Workforce Development and Apprenticeship Training Programs
Encourage public and public/private endeavors to meet the employment demands of the industry by preparing our future workforce through workforce development programs. This would include:
- Establishing fair and equitable state support of pre-apprentice and
- Requiring the state approve qualified unilateral apprentice programs even where the employer is a participant in a Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee.
- Encourage grant programs administered by private sector grantees.
- Encourage the use of prudent bonding for "hard dollar" construction. Such bonding should be financed with specific revenue sources not impacting the State's general fund obligations.
- Ensure that sufficient capital dollars are invested to maintain a safe, environmentally sound infrastructure, conducive to economic development.
Regulatory and Administrative
- The promulgation of comprehensive rules and regulations implementing the premium payroll cap that was established by legislation in 1998. Also, produce a compliance manual for affected employers.
- Require the Department of Labor to promulgate reasonable and equitable comprehensive written rules, regulations, and definitions for Section 220 of the Labor Law.
- Encourage better definition of sales tax exemptions and when are they applicable. Also, production of a "how to comply" manual for employers.
- Support the promulgation of comprehensive written rules, regulations, definitions for what an "Independent Contractor" is.
- Support legislation which would cap the length of time an injured worker can collect permanent partial disability benefits.
- Support prohibiting of workers' compensation benefits if an employee is intoxicated from alcohol and/or an illegal substance, or is in the act of committing a crime at the time of injury.
- Support the adoption of objective medical guidelines.
- Support legislation which would require public owners to pay contractors for delay damages upon documentation that public owners' action led to damages.
- Ensure that payments due contractors by public owners be expedited regardless of untimely budgets and insist that budgetary appropriations be regarded as promissory. If need be, pursue a legislative fix to the problem to ensure that contractors are paid for their work.
- Enhance the process by which payments are made upon the completion of public works projects. Encouragement of "quick payment" to contractors through technological advances, i.e. electronic transfer of funds.
- Oppose the extension of retainage beyond substantial completion.
- Support legislation which would require public owners to provide expeditious dispute resolution.
- Support legislation which would result in an alternative dispute resolution process between contractors and public owners that is fair, independent and timely
- Insist that the contract processes be expedited upon award.
Competitive Bidding/Government Competition/Preferential Bidding
- Oppose the expanded use of state and municipal agencies'
staff in the construction management profession, and in their associated
construction trades. Maintain, if not strengthen, the competitive
bidding laws by ensuring that procurement policy not be adversely
- Oppose legislation which would increase the incidence of unfair competition.
- Oppose legislation which would create preference through: domicile requirements, preferred bid lists, licensure requirements, percentage of lowest bid, or any other mechanism which allows preferential treatment of one class of bidder over another on public works contracts.
- Oppose legislation that authorizes alternative project delivery systems on public work without objective criteria that preserves a fair and open process. Oppose public entities attempting to circumvent the competitive bidding process through the use of "contracting in" and "force account" within the construction industry. Ensure that the continued and expanded use of emergency contracts does not circumvent the competitive bidding process. Support limiting the use of inmates or other taxpayer funded entities on public works projects, other than for minor maintenance work.
- Support the selection of private sector architects and engineers on all public works projects based on Section 136-a of the State Finance law.
- Support capital project appropriations which would
establish mentoring, training, and/or revolving loan programs to allow
equal access to the construction, and related trades, of minority,
women, and small business entrepreneurs. Support efforts which would
encourage increased opportunities for participation of available and
competitive minority, women, and small owned business enterprises
as well as economic opportunity for minority, women, (M/WBEs) and
small business enterprises (SBEs) in the construction industry.
- Encourage uniform statewide implementation of Article 15-A, which promotes use of minority and women-owned business enterprises on public contracts.
- Support legislation which would permit mechanic's
liens to be filed against the real property when private improvements
are situated on publicly owned property. Oppose legislation which
would require "wrap-up" insurance and surety bonds on public works
- Oppose onerous mandates or unnecessary licensing requirements.