The “Prevailing Wage” Bill; Assembly bill A.1261 (Bronson) Same as Senate bill: S.1947 (Ramos)

This proposed legislation changes the definition of public work to which certain labor provision, including the use of prevailing wage, apply. The bills broaden the definition of public work and of public funds to cover construction projects (broadly defined) receiving even partial financing from a state program. The legislation as proposed contains several exemptions (see below for exact text of exemptions), including one for single family homes. The exemptions are appropriate but should be improved upon to ensure consistency and coordination of state policies, specifically energy efficiency and affordability.

New York has a new and aggressive energy efficiency goal needed to ensure the State meets its critically important climate goals. Energy efficiency is an especially cost effective and important clean energy opportunity for low and moderate income households as it combines reducing emissions with lower utility bills and healthier, more comfortable homes. The effects of the current bill language on the energy efficiency industry and the New York residents they serve would adversely impact the state’s many smaller firms that constitute the residential energy efficiency market. These locally owned companies are unlikely to become unionized given their small employee bases. Rather than add obstacles to job growth in this sector, we should be encouraging it. Building retrofits (heating and cooling systems, air sealing and insulation projects, etc.) in the State’s affordable housing, especially, could be affected given the makeup of the companies that serve them. The concern is that the bill will end up adding costs to programs that serve lower and middle income households, often renters in multifamily buildings, thus harming their energy affordability, safety and comfort, in particular.

The exemptions should be amended and improved to clarify that energy efficiency upgrade work in existing residential buildings (as opposed to gut rehab/new construction) should be categorized as repair or retrofit work, not construction, and therefore when such energy efficiency retrofits are financed in whole or part by public funds this work should be exempt from the provisions of this bill in smaller residential buildings (under 50 units) and residential properties that are affordable housing.

I urge you to reach out to the bill’s sponsors to let them know of our concerns!

Joseph P. Addabbo Jr
(D) 15th Senate District

Jamaal T. Bailey
(D) 36th Senate District

Alessandra Biaggi
(D, WF) 34th Senate District

Neil D. Breslin
(D, IP, WF) 44th Senate District

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