Paterson signs 66 new laws, vetoes 26 bills

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Gov. David Paterson announced this afternoon that he has signed 66 bills into law and vetoed 26 bills. Some of the highlights of the ones he signed are:

— Employers who give workers leave time to attend funerals for family members must give the same leave to same-sex committed partners.

“I have consistently said that we must continue onward toward the goal of equality, whatever setbacks we may face,” Paterson said in a statement. “I am pleased today to sign this new law, which provides grieving partners with leave time to attend their loved one’s funeral.”

— Businesses that classify workers as independent contractors on construction projects will be subject to monetary and criminal penalties under the Construction Industry Fair Play Act. Misclassification is a kind of payroll fraud. Workers are denied basic protections and benefits like unemployment and workers’ compensation, and the fraud gives businesses that don’t follow the law an unfair advantage, according to the bill’s sponsors. Up to 15 percent of workers in New York’s construction industry can be misclassified at any one time.

Frank Spencer, vice president of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters Eastern District said in a statement that by passing the Construction Industry Fair Play Act, “New York has joined other states in the region and around the country that have clearly and substantively addressed the harm construction worker misclassification does to workers, good employers and taxpayers.”

–State infrastructure agencies — the departments of Transportation and Education, the Housing Finance Agency, the Housing Trust Fund Corp., the Environmental Facilities Corp., the Dormitory Authority and the Urban Development Corp. — must provide funding for infrastructure in a way that is consistent with smart-growth criteria.

The governor vetoed a bill that would have set up a state War of 1812 200th anniversary commemoration commission to plan War of 1812 reenactment tourism events. Paterson vetoed legislation last year that would have set up the commission.

“Governor Paterson’s veto of this piece of legislation is a direct affront to the social and economic needs of Upstate New York, and to the legislative process. After the bill was vetoed by the Governor in 2009, we worked closely with his office to re-craft the legislation and were told that it met his office’s specifications,” said Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, D-Greenburgh, Westchester County, the bill’s sponsor and a candidate for attorney general.

“We are shocked by his subsequent action, and find this veto to be both mystifying and hurtful to taxpayers statewide, and especially Upstate New Yorkers, who would have benefited economically from the increase in tourism this bill would provide,” he added.Another bill vetoed by the governor would have required the Veterans’ Affairs Commission to work with other state agencies undertake an annual planning process to improve outreach, assessment and care for veterans and family members who have mental-health and/or substance-abuse problems. The other agencies involved would be the state offices of Mental Health and Alcoholism and Substance Substance Abuse Services, and the departments of Health and Labor. The legislation was introduced because there is a need to develop services outside the federal Department of Veterans Affairs for families that are ineligible or choose not to use the federal services, according to the bill’s sponsors.

Paterson has made it a practice to veto bills that are passed but don’t have funding attached. “During my time in office, I have issued thousands of vetoes that have saved more than $1.5 billion in scarce taxpayer resources and I will continue to veto any unfunded spending that is added by the Legislature,” he said.

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