Legislature enters final day of 2018 session

No votes expected on sports betting, marijuana

June 19, 2018 - 10:16 pm
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ALBANY, N.Y. (WBEN/AP) — Proposals to overhaul teacher regulations and add more school zone speed cameras in New York City were up for consideration Tuesday as New York state lawmakers worked to wrap up their legislative work for the year.

The Senate and Assembly hope to adjourn Wednesday. Compared to previous years, the 2018 legislative session is ending with a whimper. No votes are expected on high-profile proposals to authorize sports betting, legalize marijuana, extend the statute of limitations on child molestation cases or overhaul the bail system.

Lawmakers also are expected to sign off on hundreds of bills of importance to specific communities, such as the renewal of local taxes.

A look at what's driving the debate as the session winds down:

SCHOOL SPEED CAMERAS: The state law authorizing speed cameras around schools in New York City will soon expire if lawmakers don't vote to renew it. There's broad support to do so, but lawmakers have yet to work out the details of a proposal that would add more cameras — and relax restrictions on when they can be turned on.

Some lawmakers have also proposed expanding the program to allow cameras near schools in Buffalo and Westchester County.

Another, connected proposal from Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean, would allow the installation of cameras in the stop arms of school buses to catch motorists who pass stopped buses.

TEACHER EVALUATIONS: The Assembly has passed legislation to overhaul the teacher evaluation system to remove a current requirement that they take into account student performance on standardized tests. The Senate is considering its own bill, but the chamber's Republican leaders say they're open to compromise.

Republicans have also proposed relaxing restrictions on the number and location of charter schools. While the number of authorized charter schools statewide wouldn't change, the proposal would eliminate a cap on the number of schools in each region.

CHILDCARE CREDENTIALS: Legislation making it a misdemeanor for a nanny to misrepresent their credentials is heading to the desk of Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The legislation is intended to prevent incidents like the 2012 murders of two children in New York City. Their nanny, Yoselyn Ortega, later was convicted of murdering 6-year-old Lucia Krim and her brother, 2-year-old Leo Krim. The bill is known as "Lulu and Leo's Law" in their honor.

The proposal would also make it a crime for someone else to lie about a nanny's credentials for employment purposes. Ortega, who was from the Dominican Republic, had been recommended by her sister, a nanny for another New York family, and her background and references were faked by her family.

"This new law will hopefully prevent another child care tragedy like the one that happened to the Krim family," said Sen. Andrew Lanza, R-Staten Island and the sponsor of the bill, which passed the Senate Tuesday. "The bottom line is that the person that the Krims hired was not the person that they were led to believe that she was because they were lied to."

BEER ICE CREAM: One bill making a run through the Legislature in the session's final days would allow the sale of beer ice cream — a frozen dairy product that contains alcohol. The Legislature also recently voted to authorize new specialty Jamaican Bobsled Team license plates to honor a team that famously made its Olympic bobsled debut at the 1988 Calgary Winter Games. Proceeds would go to the New York-based Jamaican Bobsled Foundation, a not-for-profit group that supports the team.

PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT: Following the lead of the Senate, the Assembly on Tuesday passed legislation to create an independent commission on prosecutorial conduct. The 11-member panel, appointed by the governor, legislature and chief judge on the Court of Appeals, would investigate complaints of misconduct by prosecutors.

The bill now heads to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

"Prosecutors have one of the most important roles in our society," said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx. "It is critical that their actions be held to the highest standards of public accountability."

GOING, GOING, GONE: It's do or die time for a number of measures, including one that would eliminate cash bail in all but the most serious criminal cases and another that would allow molestation victims to sue their alleged abusers for decades-old abuse. Good-government groups are hoping lawmakers approve an online database of spending on economic development to enhance transparency for taxpayers. None of those bills is slated for a vote.

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