UPDATE: The Washington Post wrote about Common Good’s Scaffold Law report on Thursday. Read their article here.
ORIGINAL POST: Obsolete laws hamstring productivity and waste billions. A new analysis by Common Good reports that New York’s century-old Scaffold Law, which imposes absolute liability on property owners and others for certain construction accidents, could increase the cost of the Gateway Tunnel Project by $300 million. The law allows for unlimited damages, even though workers are covered by workers’ compensation.
As noted today by Philip Howard in a New York Daily News op-ed, the law has already wasted $200 million on the new Mario Cuomo (Tappan Zee) Bridge. U.S. Rep. John Faso recently proposed a bill to bar the application of the absolute liability standard for federally funded projects. Citing Common Good’s report, the New York Post endorsed the measure while also calling for the repeal of the Scaffold Law.
Countless obsolete laws drive up infrastructure costs and weigh down our economy. For example, the 1920 Jones Act, which prohibits international ships from transporting goods among U.S. ports, costs Puerto Rico and Hawaii hundreds of millions of dollars every year and raises the price of gasoline for all Americans by up to $.15 a gallon.
To rebuild America’s decrepit infrastructure, Congress must do three things. One, cut permitting red tape, as proposed in Common Good’s three-page statute. Two, eliminate obsolete laws that raise costs unnecessarily. Three, provide public funding for projects with no adequate revenue stream, as discussed recently by Philip on PBS.