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August 2017 Column - Made in America Act supports local workers and manufacturers in Erie County


OFFICE HIGHLIGHTS

We’ve all read the stories in the paper of the countless individuals suffering from the ongoing opioid epidemic. There has been a lot of talk of families being ripped apart by this tragedy, too often we hear talk but see little action.

Legislator Ted Morton joined Senator Patrick M. Gallivan, Erie County Sheriff Timothy Howard, Holland Central School Superintendent Cathy Fabiatos and Alden School Superintendent Adam Stoltman to announce continued funding for school resource officers (SRO) in several local districts. The SRO program provides a uniformed officer in schools as a way to promote student safety, conflict resolution and anti-bullying initiatives.


At a Legislative session held on September 21, 2017, Legislator Ted Morton honored Lancaster resident, Dick Young as the September 2017 Citizen of the month.


Today, in response to the County Executive’s offer to work with Legislator Morton to develop a compromise Made in America Act, Legislator Ted Morton wrote to him to begin the process.


Legislator Ted Morton first introduced the Made in America Act in support of local manufacturers and local workers in Erie County. After passing the Legislature by a vote of 9-1, the County Executive vetoed the law after instructing the County Attorney to draft a legal opinion.


For far too long we’ve seen foreign manufacturers take advantage of cheap labor and watched them make inferior products.   This has led to decades of loss to local manufacturing jobs, an economic blow still felt today. To help fight this, recently we saw New York State approve a new provision to require American made steel and resources for transportation projects. This inspired me to introduce the “Made in America Act” in Erie County.

This law would amend the county charter to require all county purchases over $10,000 be for goods manufactured in the United States and all services over $10,000 be contracted with entities in the United States. Erie County contracts millions of dollars in goods and services every year from construction materials to IT and software services. There is absolutely no reason why Erie County shouldn’t purchase these goods from companies right here in the United States.  The Made in America Act works to protect our manufacturers and workers while boosting our local economy. If approved by the County Executive, it would be a ballot referendum this November for voters to ultimately decide whether it becomes law.

The County Executive has shown support for this provision but raised concerns about foreign corporations or foreign governments filing a lawsuit to stop it. I’m not only confident it’s legal after discussions with legal counsel, but I don’t think the county should cower from threats of legal action. When the County Legislature previously passed a law banning microbeads in Erie County we heard similar threats that a lawsuit would be imminent. The stance of the County at the time was correct: “if someone wants to sue us, bring it on because Erie County government should fight for laws that protect the public good.” The Made in America Act does that, and I think Erie County should be willing to stand up and help protect our local manufacturers.

This is an easy way for the county to do its part to help grow the local economy and prevent further loss of critical manufacturing firms like Bethlehem Steel. It’s time to get serious about standing up for our workforce.

Throughout my tenure as a County Legislator, I’ve had the opportunity to tour many manufacturers and learn about the great work so many people are doing right here in America. Since it was introduced, I’ve received broad support from local chambers of commerce, manufacturers, unions, community leaders and residents. I ask my colleagues and the County Executive to work with me to make this a reality.

As always should you have any questions on this or any other issue, please give me a call at 858-8856 or send an email to ted.morton@erie.gov