Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy today offered his assessment of the recently-completed state legislative session by noting that the state legislature had left Albany without taking action on several key issues that would broadly impact New Yorkers.
“I am disappointed that the end of session did not include several bills that would have directly affected New Yorkers,” said McCoy. “Whether the issue was ‘Raise the Age,’ banning toxic toys, enacting protections for LGBTQ New Yorkers or requiring big oil companies to post surety for crude oil facilities, the legislature failed to step up when the time came.”
McCoy pointed to the fact that the legislature had failed to agree to important reforms of the state’s criminal justice system. The inaction came despite the death of Kalief Browder, who spent three years in solitary confinement at Rikers Island in New York City. McCoy and other leaders had voiced their support for a proposal to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18, which would end the practice of charging 16 and 17-year old defendants as adults. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has indicated that he will issue an Executive Order to move those under 18 out of adult prisons.
“It is our responsibility to protect the public, and we also need a criminal justice system that does not place children in the adult system,” said McCoy. “We need to find a way to stop the cycle of recidivism and get kids on the right track.”
The County Executive said the Petroleum Surety Bill, proposed by Albany Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy, would ensure that crude oil firms and storage facilities obtain the necessary insurance and meet increased financial criteria to cover the cost of clean-up and decontamination in the event of an accident or spill.
“As transport of crude oil has increased over the last five years, so has the risk to communities,” said McCoy. “These crude oil firms are making millions but as we’ve seen, the clean-up costs and toll on places like Lac-Megantic is in the billions of dollars.”
McCoy cited the lack of action by the Senate on three measures that would ensure that the LGBTQ community is protected. They are:
- The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), which would outlaw discrimination in New York based on gender identity or expression. The bill would also expand the hate crimes law to explicitly include crimes against transgender people.
- The Child-Parent Security Act, which would protect relationships between children and their parents, especially when parents are unmarried or one or more parent(s) are not biologically related to the child. Current law prohibits a regulated process for reproduction through assisted pregnancy and children conceived through third party reproduction have an insufficiently secure legal relationship with their intended parents.
- A measure to outlaw Conversion Therapy, which would ban the practice of conversion therapy and protect LGBTQ children from harm. This bill would protect LGBTQ minors from psychological abuse at the hands of so-called medical professionals who try to change sexual orientation or gender identity
McCoy cited the failure of the Senate to pass the Child Safe Products Act, which would place a statewide ban on toxic chemicals in children’s products as another missed opportunity. Despite overwhelming support in the Assembly and the support of two-thirds of the Senate, the bill was not considered. In January, Albany County was the first county in the state to enact a toxic toy ban. Since then two additional counties have enacted similar laws.