By Hank Kita, STA Executive Director
The STA has once again run into a roadblock in Albany in our legislative efforts to proactively advocate for better contractual conditions for our subcontractor members.
Despite our successful lobbying over two consecutive legislative sessions, where the Delay Damages bill passed by increasingly wider margins, I must report to you that Governor Cuomo on December 13, vetoed both the delay damages” and “substantial completion “bills”. As you know, both of these bills were STA priorities. The vetoes by Governor Cuomo are very disappointing and the rationale provided in the veto messages for both bills is very weak.
The Delay Damages Bill (S5933-A), proposed by the STA and vetoed by the Governor, would have required that every state contract for design, construction, reconstruction, demolition, alteration repair or improvement of any public works, include a standard clause which would allow a contractor to make a claim for additional costs arising from delay in the performance of a contract if such delay was caused by a material act or omission of the state agency, also known as a “damage for delay” clause. The STA had crafted this bill responding to issues raised by the Governor in his veto of a similar STA bill last year. This year’s bill passed by even a greater margin by the State Legislature when compared to last year’s bill, showing ever-growing support in the Legislature for our cause. This veto was delivered in spite of the STA’s addressing of the Governor’s concerns in last year’s “delay damages” legislation!
In addition, Governor Cuomo also vetoed S2394, a bill which would have required that substantial completion be deemed to occur when the work required by the contract with the public owner is sufficiently complete in accordance with the contract so that the public owner could occupy or utilize the work for its intended use. This legislation was proposed and advocated for by the Empire State Subcontractors Association (ESSA) of which the STA is a member.
In vetoing the above referenced bills, Governor Cuomo appeared to directly advocate on behalf of state and other public agencies so as to preserve their “upper hand” in contractual matters with all manner of construction contractors. In addition, other, unrelated factors may have led to the Governor vetoing both bills. I have attached for your information and review a copy of the Governor’s veto message for both bills.
The STA will be assessing a response to these vetoes and will keep you informed of any related further actions by the STA as necessary. In addition, the STA will be consulting with its construction industry partners in order to develop a more effective and cohesive industrywide legislative strategy moving forward on these and other construction contractor issues.
I would like to thank the members of the STA for their support of these bills! The STA will continue its legislative fight on behalf of our subcontractors in Albany and City Hall!