‘Made in America Act’ veto upheld after three legislators switch votes

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Less than seven weeks after receiving overwhelming approval by the Erie County Legislature, the Made in America Act was defeated Thursday afternoon, when the move to override a veto by County Executive Mark Poloncarz fell two votes short.

“It’s pathetic that three people said yes if you weeks ago and now went in and said no, the exact same law, the exact same wording, they said no after the county executive said no,” said Legislator Ted Morton, R-Cheektowaga, the bill’s sponsor. “You put two and two together, it’s pure politics.”

Three legislators changed their vote Thursday from their initial vote in early August: Democrats Betty Jean Grant (Buffalo), Tom Loughran (Amherst) and Barbara Miller Williams (Buffalo). All three voted against overriding the veto.

The bill would have forced the county legislature to use American-made goods and services for any contract worth more than $10,000.
“It would have been an amazing thing if a great part of America eventually said, you know what, most of our purchases should be made in America by Americans,” Morton said.
Instead, Poloncarz vetoed the bill, saying it was too broad, failed to follow state law and was unenforceable.

He released a statement following Thursday’s meeting.

“I stand at the ready to work with the Legislature to draft and support a law that accomplishes the intentions of this piece of legislation,” Poloncarz wrote. “I wholeheartedly believe the County has a role to play in encouraging the purchase of American-made products and materials but cannot endorse the Bill as presently drafted simply so that I can say we have passed a law. It is our responsibility to enact laws that will withstand legal scrutiny and stand the test of time beyond our tenure in government, not just pass those that are symbolic in nature.”

“There’s a global economy that we need to think about as well that Buffalo is a part of,” Grant said.
Legislator Patrick Burke, D-Buffalo, introduced his own version Thursday.
“This vote isn’t a voting against a pie America Bill, it’s voting against a bad bill that has been deemed illegal,” he said.
Grant said the original bill, which she initially supported, required more thought.
“I think it might be that we didn’t research it beyond what the resolution said, what the local law said,” she said. “We were so much in support of by American and supporting the local economy, that we didn’t see our impact on the national and regional economies.”
Morton said he intended to work with Poloncarz and reintroduce his bill with additional details. Burke’s bill, meanwhile, is expected to be discussed during upcoming committee hearings.

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