By Hank Kita, STA Executive Director
The STA has scored another in a long line of legislative victories for its members as well as construction contractors from around the State of New York!
Leading the way with a coalition of 16 other state contractor organizations, the STA’s Delay Damages bill (A7945/S6686) was passed by a 59-0 vote in the State Senate and by 78-32 in the Assembly. The bill now awaits the signature of Governor Cuomo before it becomes a law.
This legislation, largely developed and advocated by the STA and other industry groups, provides for the payment of “delay damages” to contractors working on public works projects, requiring that all state and local construction contracts include a clause authorizing contractors (and consequently subcontractors) to recover damages for project delays where the delay is both unreasonable and the fault or responsibility of the public owner. This legislation therefore would prohibit the use of “no damages for delay” clauses which, are still found in many state and local public works contracts, and are inherently unfair and unjustifiable.
A7945/S6686 mirrors contractual procedures already in use by the New York State Office of General Services (OGS) but rejected until now by other public entities around the State of New York. In 1996, OGS modified its standard contract specifically to recognize delay damages in state construction contracts where the delay was not the fault of the contractor or subcontractor.
In drafting this bill, the STA sought to create a uniform and equitable standard for all delay damages claims. The STA looked to OGS’ best practices found in their own standard contract and drafted identical language which would apply to all public works contracts throughout the state.
Special thanks are in order for STA Legislative Committee Chairman Arthur Rubinstein, STA General Counsel Henry Goldberg, and STA Legislative Counsel Perry Ochacher for the important roles that they played in the crafting of this bill and the tireless advocacy that was crucial to securing the positive votes in the Senate and Assembly. Special thanks are also in order for those STA members and trade associations who took the time to send in letters of support and make phone calls to their state legislative representatives in support of this legislation.
In spite of our victory in the State Legislature, the battle is not over. We must now turn our attention to convincing Governor Cuomo to sign this legislation over the objections of some public and private entities from around the state. In this regard, look for future “calls to action” from my office, to advocate for the final approval of this bill with Governor Cuomo at the appropriate time.