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From the Mayor: Wrap-Up of Laws Passed by the New York State Legislature PDF Print Email


By Mary C. Marvin, Mayor, Village of Bronxville

Jul. 12, 2017:  The recent session of our state legislature came to a close with the next regular session not until January. As is often the case, not much consensus was reached. There were many symbolic one-house bills that made political statements but did not affect any outcomes. The session was unique in that the governor used the budget cycle in April to tie his legislative initiatives to the funding process so he did not offer an end-of-session set of agenda goals.

His signature initiatives of providing free State/City University of New York tuition starting this fall for income-eligible students and increasing the age of prosecution and incarceration as an adult from 16 to 18 were achieved during budget negotiations.

Some bills of significance were passed and legislation that has made it to the governor’s desk include a bill forbidding marriage in New York State under the age of 17, with parental consent required between ages 17 and 18. Prior to this, individuals could marry as young as 14, creating a direct connection between young women being married as part of human trafficking rings.

For the first time, a bill will require all nonprofit animal shelters and rescue centers to be subject to state regulation. This safeguard would eliminate the puppy mills that don’t incorporate and then masquerade as nonprofits.

A bill providing an additional $200 million for opioid and heroin addiction programs made it through both houses, and Westchester County, upstate New York, and Long Island can now employ the services of both Uber and Lyft.

Both parties agreed on bills that would treat e-cigarettes in just the same manner as regular cigarettes in restaurants and bars.

For victims of medical malpractice, the legislature agreed to extend the statute of limitations for misdiagnosed cancer to two and a half years from the discovery of the cancer, not from the date of misdiagnosis.

If signed, the use of medical marijuana will now be extended to victims of post-traumatic stress disorder.

A very watered-down “Buy America” bill was passed for the use of steel and iron. Canadian companies and legislators representing border districts protested vigorously against a broader ban.

Only after reconvening at a special session called by the governor was the issue of mayoral control of the New York City public school system resolved. In a 72-page multi-topic bill, Mayor de Blasio was granted an extension of centralized control. If not granted control, the reversion to local district boards would cost New York taxpayers over $1.6 billion in administrative costs alone for just the next decade.

In order to receive continued control just one day before his authority was to lapse, Mayor de Blasio, in a side arrangement, agreed to an increase in the number of charter schools in the city and promised to make it easier for those currently in existence to function.

If supportive of mayoral school control in this omnibus bill, one also had to vote for increased flood relief in upstate New York, various sales tax levies for counties throughout the state, and the renaming of the Tappan Zee Bridge to the Mario Cuomo Bridge.

Some of the more noteworthy items that did not make it to the governor’s desk for possible signature include bills to legalize physician-assisted suicide, permit alcohol sales in movie theaters, and crack down on heroin dealers.

As to the above, advocates pushed hard for legislation that would allow individuals with a terminal illness to seek lethal drugs from a physician but the bill never got a vote. This particular subject seems to take years of advocacy in every state throughout the country to ever win passage. The governor supported the service-of-alcohol-in-theaters bill but the Democratic Speaker Heastie did not.

The Senate passed, but the Assembly did not, a series of bills to crack down on drug dealing, including creating a new crime of homicide against those who sell heroin or opioids resulting in fatal overdoses. An additional bill would have increased the criminality of sales near rehab facilities. In addition, the Child Victim Act, a bill that would extend the time period molestation victims have to file lawsuits to age 50 and allow criminal charges until the victim turns 28 repealing the current law that allows any suit only up until the age of 23 did not make it to vote.

Bills authorizing early voting or making it easier to register also never made it to a full vote.

Despite two legislative leaders receiving convictions and two aides to the governor currently under indictment for bid rigging and bribery, no ethics reforms bills are on the governor’s desk.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have always subscribed to the view purportedly expressed by Mark Twain that “no man’s life, liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session.”


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