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Bleak outlook for Child Victims Act

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  • Bleak outlook for Child Victims Act


    Albany
    Tuesday was a tale of two types of policies at the state Capitol.
    The sticky policies remained stuck as the legislative session nears its scheduled Wednesday end, and one initiative appeared to die on the vine when Senate Republican Majority Leader John Flanagan said the Senate will not bring up the hotly debated Child Victims Act.
    But the floodgates remained open for less contentious pieces of legislation, with state lawmakers passing bills to add e-cigarettes to the Clean Indoor Air Act, allow those with PTSD to use medical marijuana, and ban sex offenders from driving for ride-hailing companies.
    And there was an announced deal on legislation that would implement a "Buy American" program for certain state projects.
    News broke late Tuesday afternoon that the Child Victims Act, which would extend the time during which young victims of sexual abuse could bring a case against their abuser, appeared to be dead. On his way out of a meeting in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office with other top lawmakers, Flanagan said that while discussions continue, the Senate won't be bringing up the legislation this year.
    That bill has passed the Assembly and has the support of the governor. Senate Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein, who is at the negotiating table with Flanagan, backs a measure that is slightly different than the one pushed by the Assembly and Cuomo.
    Leaving the meeting shortly before Flanagan, Klein said the Child Victims Act had not been discussed at that point in the day.
    Advocates were incensed: "Why is Majority Leader Flanagan holding the Child Victims Act hostage in the Senate Rules Committee?" Nikki DuBose and Gary Greenberg said in a statement. "The senator is obstructing justice for victims."
    The battles ended on less sour notes for other legislation.
    The Senate passed legislation that would add post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of conditions that can be treated with medical marijuana in New York. It passed the Assembly in early May.
    PTSD would become the 12th condition treatable with medical marijuana products if the legislation is signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Others on the list include cancer, chronic pain and epilepsy.
    In the Assembly, lawmakers passed a bill that would add e-cigarettes to the Clean Indoor Air Act, which would ban their use indoors at establishments such as bars and restaurants after the Senate approved it on Monday night.
    There are some county bans on e-cigarette usage, but there is no statewide prohibition on vaping indoors.
    Should Cuomo sign the bill, vaping would be banned in the workplace and in outdoor areas where smoking is otherwise banned, such as within 100 feet of a school. Among the areas in which vaping would still be allowed are outdoor dining areas that do not have a roof or other ceiling enclosure.
    By Tuesday evening, the Senate had approved legislation that would bar Level 1 sex offenders from driving for a ride-hailing company. It was then delivered to the Assembly for consideration.
    A law passed as part of the state budget that authorizes ride-hailing outside New York City bars those convicted of a sex offense in the last seven years from obtaining a ride-hailing driver permit. Additionally, any person who is listed on the U.S. Department of Justice's National Sex Offender Public Website also would be banned from receiving a permit.
    But Level 1 offenders — who would not show up on the DOJ website, even though they are required to register with law enforcement for 20 years under state law — could obtain a driver permit after the seven-year post-conviction period ends.
    Cuomo also did a bill signing on Tuesday, albeit behind closed doors with advocates. He approved legislation that raises the legal age for marriage in New York to 17 years old.
    Under the old law, children age 14 and 15 could marry if they received parental consent and the authorization of a judge. More than 3,800 minors were married statewide between 2000 and 2010, according to Cuomo's office.
    The new law requires that 17 year olds still receive parental and judicial signoff before they can be married. It also outlines how a judge must review a couple's request for permission before that judge can approve the nuptials.
    Cuomo and the leaders also announced a deal on a bill that would require that certain state agencies require the use of American-made structural iron and structural steel for all surface road and bridge projects.
    The program would apply to contracts worth $1 million or more, according to the bill.
    mhamilton@timesunion.com • 518-454-5449 • @matt_hamilton10



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