By lawmaking standards, New York State kicked into high gear this spring after the New York Times published its year-long investigation into minimum wage violations, racial discrimination, and chemical exposure in the nail salon industry. Within days, Governor Cuomo announced a special nail salon task force to investigate labor abuses in the industry, and within a couple of months operating an unlicensed nail salon was upgraded to a criminal offense. In August, Cuomo signed a law requiring salons to purchase wage bonds as security for any unpaid wages.

State Assemblyman Ron Kim, a representative of the majority-Asian neighborhood of Flushing, Queens, helped draft Cuomo's multi-pronged nail salon legislation. Now he's one of its most vocal opponents, speaking in defense of nail salon owners—the same men and women who have recently contributed about $60,000 to the assemblyman in political donations, according to the NY Times.

Kim's primary grievance with the legislation is that the wage bond stipulation is too harsh, and punishes all salon owners, when only a portion of them are bad actors. He has questioned "the availability of the bonds, their price and how quickly salons were required to obtain one," according to the Times.

In recent months salon owners have organized, lobbied, and protested that the mandated wage bonds are too expensive, and threaten their small businesses. In August, some salons across the city closed in protest of the legislation. And in late September, hundreds of salon owners gathered on the steps of City Hall to protest the wage bond law.

"Even on credit, it is too expensive for us," Kuo, who owns a salon downtown, told us at the September rally. "Some industries don't have to have wage bonds. What about restaurants? What about construction?"

In addition to speaking out against the legislation, Kim has connected salon owners with the lobby firm Parkside Group—his former employer.

Kim has reportedly given back donations from the Korean nail association and the Chinese nail association in recent months, but has held on to donations from individual salon owners. “I didn’t want to give any impression to anybody that I did this because they were at one point donating to my campaign,” Kim told the Times, referring to his decision to return some donations. "Even though I don't think that there was anything illegal in what that was."

The New York Healthy Nail Salons Coalition, which has held counter-protests in the vicinity of salon-owner actions this fall, is standing firm in favor of the wage bond legislation.

"We continue to support the wage bond and the other new requirements because they protect nail salon workers, the majority Asian and Latina immigrants, and we hope they will pave the way for protections in other industries," said coalition spokeswoman Nadia Marín-Molina in a statement. "Defending associations and employers who use their money to pay lobbyists instead of complying with the law and paying their workers is inexcusable."

Last week, NY Times public editor Margaret Sullivan published a column addressing "new questions" surrounding the paper's nail salon investigation. She concluded that even though the Times "had admirable intentions" and "did reveal some practices in need of reform... In places, the two-part investigation went too far in generalizing about an entire industry. Its findings, and the language used to express them, should have been dialed back—in some instances substantially."