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County's potential Made in America law draws limited response

The owner of the Made in America Store in Elma showed up at a county public hearing Thursday to endorse a new law that would require county contractors to guarantee that the goods or materials they provide are manufactured or produced in the United States.

Mark Andol said he urged Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz to move forward with the new policy, regardless of whether the County Legislature-supported bill is signed into law or not.

"I asked Mark to do the right thing, leave the politics out of it," Andol said. "We could be the county that leads the country."

His company and one Buffalo resident were the only speakers, aside from legislation sponsor Ted Morton, R-Cheektowaga, who appeared at a public hearing scheduled to discuss the proposed law. The legislation has drawn local and national attention.

Poloncarz has expressed concern that a Made in America law, while laudable, would be legally unenforceable because it runs counter to state procurement laws. The law, if passed, would still have to go to public referendum because any waiver of the policy would require approval by two-thirds of the Legislature.

Can a local law require Erie County to buy American-made products?

Morton said Thursday he believes the county should be able to interpret the legal requirement that the county accept the "lowest reasonable bid" loosely, with the word "reasonable" meaning "American made."

Buffalo resident Lynda Stephens said she would only support the law "with conditions." Those conditions include raising property taxes and reducing the regular sales tax rate, she said.

The law will now go to Poloncarz, for his decision to either sign or reject it.

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