Modular Building Institute

Discussion Forum

New York Bill Favors Local Labor Over Affordability

Original Comment:
On its surface, the text in New York bill AO2039 seems pretty straight forward and logical. Any work done in the city, including modular construction, must meet the City’s licensing requirements for plumbing, electrical, and fire suppression work.

The illogical and impractical part lies in this section: “…including licensing requirements that require plumbing, fire-suppression, and electrical work to be done under the direct and continuing supervision of a person licensed by such municipality, whether any phase of such construction is done within the geographical boundaries of such municipality or in a manufacturing facility located outside the municipality.”

According to the bill’s sponsor, the intent of the bill is to address “various instances of the third-party certification process failing, resulting in required repairs to such modular units by NYC licensees.”

Of course, no such examples were provided and when pressed on the issue, we still have no evidence of third-party failures. The bill seems to be conflating the need for a structure to meet its local building code requirements with the desire for all the workers to meet city LICENSING requirements. Can a city impose its local regulations on activities that occur outside city limits? If so, where does that line of thinking end? Should NYC licensed electricians be required in the Mitsubishi factory in Japan making air conditioning units, for example?

We knew once modular construction gained greater acceptance certain factions would push back with bogus claims of inferior quality to protect their status quo. And what exactly is the status quo?

New York City continues to be one of the most-costly places for construction anywhere in the world!

Housing supply for very low and extremely low-income renters is half of the demand, meaning NYC only has housing for one out of every two low-income renters.

In March 2021, there were 54,667 homeless people, including 16,956 homeless children, sleeping each night in the New York City municipal shelter system. Now 54,667 homeless people might not be a big deal to New York officials. But there are only 780 cities in the entire country with a population greater than the NYC homeless population!

If lawmakers were genuine in their concerns about third party inspections, they could reference the new ICC ANSI 1205 Standard as a means for ensuring quality. But they are not. This is yet another politically expedient deal to curry favor with local labor, costs be damned.

Note: MBI’s Government Affairs team and New York lobbyist was able to defeat this bill last year. This session the bill reemerged with greater support, so the fight continues. Efforts like these are funded by your support of the MBI Seals program.
Started on May 17, 2021 by Tom Hardiman
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Additional Comments:
Thank you Tom & the MBI for staying in front of issues like this. We need to make sure to fight this so it doesn't spread to other jurisdictions.
Updated on May 24, 2021 by Stephen Shang

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