End of Session Nears
The Assembly is about to enter the last week of legislative session, however much work remains to be done as most of the 11,000 bills are still pending! This week I was particularly pleased to support an expanded version of the Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) legislation to enable school officials to help obtain an expedited process to prevent unstable individuals from obtaining firearms.
Assembly Passes ERPO Bill, which is stalled in the Senate. The ERPO legislation would establish the ability of a court to issue a restraining order prohibiting a person who is a threat to themselves or others from purchasing or possessing a firearm for up to one year. The petitioner, who could be a family member, law enforcement officer or a school official, would be required to file a sworn application describing the circumstances and justification for the request. Following a hearing, the court could grant the order if there is a finding, by clear and convincing evidence, that the individual in question is likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to him or herself or others. In emergency circumstances, the court would also be authorized to issue a temporary order restricting access to firearms pending a final hearing.
Assembly Passes Bail Reform Legislation. One vital piece of legislation passed by the Assembly this week would, in most instances, eliminate the option for a court to impose a monetary bail requirement at arraignment, or thereafter, when a defendant is charged with a traffic infraction, violation, misdemeanor or non-violent felony. Instead, the courts would be required to release the individual on recognizance, release on non-monetary conditions, monitor by a pre-trial services agency or impose travel restrictions. For certain offenses, the court would be authorized to use electronic location monitoring. I was pleased to have supported this legislation to help level the scales of justice in communities throughout NYS, and thank the Speaker for working to address my concerns on domestic violence and sexual assault with the legislation.
Net Neutrality Regulations Sunset. Federal regulations on Net Neutrality officially ended earlier this week, putting easy access to online content at risk for millions of consumers and potentially undermining the ability of small businesses and innovators to grow in an increasingly digital world. I continue to push my legislation in the Assembly which would prohibit NYS and other public entities from contracting with internet service provider that do not continue to observe net neutrality principles to keep the internet free and open.
Assembly Passes Bills to Combat Sex Trafficking. I voted in favor of legislation on Wednesday that would eliminate the requirement for proof of force, fraud or coercion in order to find a person guilty of the class B violent felony of sex trafficking of a minor. This change would bring state law in line with federal sex trafficking laws. The bill would also protect victims of trafficking who are then compelled to aid in the trafficking of other minors. A defendant convicted under this legislation would face a determinate sentence in state prison of up to 25 years. Currently, under NYS law, a person who promotes the prostitution of a child is guilty of a class C felony. In order to be convicted of the higher charge of class B sex trafficking, the prosecution currently must show that the defendant used force, coercion or certain other unlawful conduct as a part of the scheme.
Governor Announces Pedestrian Safety Upgrades in Capital District. Governor Cuomo announced on Monday that work on a $2.8 million project to improve safety at 180 locations in the capital Region will be completed by next spring. So far, work has been completed at 62 sites, with an additional 77 scheduled for completion by the end of 2018. A full list of sites targeted for improved pedestrian safety can be found here.
Assembly Passes New York Health Act. Although this is not expected to move in the Senate, I was pleased to vote in favor of the New York Health Act on Thursday. Under the bill, every New York resident would be eligible to enroll in comprehensive health care coverage regardless of age, income, wealth or employment. Sometimes called Medicare for all, the benefits in this bill would include comprehensive outpatient and inpatient medical care, primary and preventative care, prescription drugs, laboratory tests, rehabilitative, dental, vision, hearing and all benefits required by current state insurance law, by publicly funded medical programs or provided by the state public employee package.
New Mural on Rail Trail Unveiled, Bethlehem Seeks Second. Spotlight News ran an article earlier this week about the completion of the mural on the rail trail in Bethlehem. I’m excited for the unveiling of a great piece of public art on the Helderberg-Hudson trail. The Town of Bethlehem is seeking proposals for an additional mural on the trail, proposals should be submitted to ART@mohawkhudson.org by 11:59 p.m. on Monday, June 18.
Archives Partnership Trust Survey. What is your interest in history and heritage? I’m proud to serve on the board of the Archives Partnership Trust, whose mission is to support education, preservation, and outreach programs not funded by New York State in order to make accessible the archives from 350 years of New York’s colonial and state governments. The Archives Partnership Trust invites you to take 10 minutes to participate in their short survey. Your opinions will aid them in developing future programming statewide. Thank you for helping the Trust learn about how they can better serve New York residents.
Exercise Classes on Empire State Plaza. Every Tuesday and Thursday from now until the end of August the NYS Office of General Services will be offering Fitness at the Plaza between Agency Buildings 2 and 3. Fitness at the Plaza features HIIT by Catrina K Fitness on Tuesdays and Sunshine Flow Yoga by Annie of The Hot Yoga Spot on Thursdays. Free and open to everyone regardless of age, fitness level, or experience.All participants are required to sign a waiver in order to participate. You may register for individual classes and Walk-ins are always welcome. For more information visit: https://ogs.ny.gov/esp/FitnessAtPlaza.asp.
As always, for the latest news or for upcoming events, please visit my office online, on Facebook, on Twitter, or my Times Union blog. If you would like to reach my office, please feel free to send us a note, or give us a call at (518) 455-4178.