The Legislative Breakfast, held at The Bridge Walk at Perthshire, featured state Sen. Jim Tedisco, state Sen. George Amedore and Assemblyman Marc Butler. Each answered five questions asked by moderator Tom Roehl, of WENT radio.
Mark Kilmer, chamber president and CEO, introduced the speakers, noting that the meetings are important to help keep legislators in Albany aware of the needs of the tri-county area.
“These five questions are very pertinent to the business community,” said Kilmer, promising to follow up on how the legislators are addressing the communities concerns throughout their terms.
For each question asked, the representative had three minutes apiece to answer.
The first topic was on the Scaffold Law: What’s going to happen in 2019 with the Scaffold Law?
Unique in the country, New York’s Scaffold Law puts 100 percent liability on employers for worker falls on construction sites if there is any employer negligence at all. That gives workers a huge advantage in civil lawsuits for damages over and above their health coverage and workers compensation. It was discussed at the 2017 breakfast.
“The Scaffold Law is what I call governmental malpractice — treating the symptoms, but not curing the disease,” Tedisco said.
Tedisco said New York needs the Scaffold Law because, without it, insurance costs would rise, insurance companies and billers would be impacted and it would prevent people from living out the American Dream.
“This issue is a number one issue that plagues New York state,” Amedore said.
He said it affects all taxpayers in the state. Amedore said the ammendments to the law didn’t get passed last year because those who wanted them, were in the minority.
Butler said there is an overwhelming Democratic majority in the Assembly who have the power to kill a bill in the committee.
“Many bills that we support and that we would like to see voted on, they just lie in the committee and that’s the way it happens with many of these bills,” Butler said “I think the real, essential problem is more than politics. The trial lawyers are major contributors to the Democratic party in Albany and the Democratic assembly and Senate candidates.”
He said he thinks the real issue with the Scaffold Law is money in policies.
The second topic was on ethics reform.
“Ethics is an unethical person who makes the decision to break the law,” Amedore said.
He said term limits need to be passed. He said what isn’t needed is a legislature that is made up of those who think ethics reform should be banning outside income.
Butler said he believes there should be term limits in leadership positions.
“You’re going to find bad people in any gathering of six to 6,000 people,” Butler said. “There is going to be a certain percentage that are going to have a different set of moral values than the majority.”
Tedisco said there were several bills they were working on, including one dealing with crooked politicians.
“I’ve got a bill that says if you are arrested and you took an oath of office, you lose your STAR exemption,” said Tedisco. “Why should you get a penny from the taxpayers of New York if you stole from the taxpayers.”
The third topic was on health insurance.
Butler said with the change in the majority in the Senate, the proposed health policies will begin to move.
“On a greater scale, I am a believer of the private sector,” Butler said.
Tedisco said the present healthcare policies will destroy the budget. He said it is not sustainable and will cause New York to go bankrupt.
“Nothing is free,” Tedisco said.
Amedore agreed with Tedisco and said the healthcare policies will bankrupt the state.
The fourth topic was on legalizing marijuana.
Tedisco who was an educator for 10 years said he is against legalizing marijuana, but is in favor of medicinal marijuana.
“We don’t want them to be misdirected, impact their memory, impact their ability to think quickly,” Tedisco said. “We don’t need more things that will [negatively] impact our children.”
Both Amedore and Butler agreed with Tedisco on not legalizing marijuana, but are in favor of medicinal marijuana.
“It’s a gateway drug,” Amedore said. “Take it out of the politicians’ hands and let’s talk to the professionals.”
Butler said he doesn’t believe marijuana has been fully studied.
The final topic was on the state Republican minority and what’s to come with Democrats having control in the Assembly, Senate and governor’s office.
Amedore said higher taxes can be expected, along with more popular social issues.
“I have one word for what I see in the future with the new dynamic and that word is chaos,” Butler said.
Tedisco said New York state needs an upstate leader to represent them.
“I will not vote for a downstate person,” Tedisco said.
Following the five topics discussed each representative gave closing statements.