A scaffold law debate over its minority impact

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ALBANY—Supporters and opponents of the state’s controversial scaffold law were at the Capitol Tuesday, each using the law's impact on minority businesses as a rallying point. 

Opponents of the law, which holds contractors liable for elevation-related injuries at construction sites, held their lobbying day, as they unveiled a new radio ad targeting legislators. 

The Alliance for Minority and Women Construction Businesses are running an ad on New York City and Albany stations targeting the Black and Latino caucus, which meets this weekend.

“Our businesses are in a crisis," says Rev. Jacques DeGraff, the chairman of Chairman of the New York City School Construction Authority’s Diversity Council, in the radio spot. "The scaffold law is killing jobs we so badly need."

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The law is a source of annual conflict at the Capitol, and supporters of the law held their own press conference to support the "Construction Insurance Transparency Act of 2014”, a bill sponsored by Assemblyman Francisco Moya that would require insurers who issue liability insurance against the scaffold safety law to file annual financial statements and detailed claim data with the state’s superintendent of financial services. (The bill number and text will be available next week.)

“We hear all the time that the Scaffold Safety Law is driving up insurance rates, but the industry has never backed up these claims with hard actuarial data,” Moya said in a press release. “Given how critical this protection is to keep construction workers safe — and particularly immigrant and Latino workers who face the greatest dangers — it would be patently irresponsible for lawmakers to take any action on the law in the absence of this data. It’s unclear that such changes are necessary - and they could even put workers at risk.”