By Assemblyman Will Barclay
Typically, a lot of bills pass the state legislature at the end of session. Once the legislature adjourns for the year, the Governor reviews the bills and determines which ones he wants to sign into law. In this column, I highlight a few bills of interest that I was pleased to see signed into law.
Strengthening Laws to Fight Drunk Driving
In 2009, I was pleased that the state passed a law, which I had co-sponsored, that imposes tough penalties on anyone who drives under the influence of alcohol with children in their vehicle. The law is named after Leandra Rosado, an 11-year-old who was killed in an accident while riding as a passenger in a car driven by a drunk driver. This was one of a number of bills that have passed the legislature in recent years that are aimed at combating drunk driving.
As a result of laws like Leandra’s law and other factors, drunk driving related fatalities have been on the decrease in New York State.
However, that does not mean we can rest on our laurels and that more can’t be done. That’s why I am happy the Governor signed bill A.2285A into law. This legislation updates the current law to make it a felony for anyone who is convicted of driving drunk or drugged on a conditional license. Specifically, those convicted would be charged with aggravated unlicensed operation in the first degree.
Conditional licenses are provided to drivers who previously lost their license due to a drunken driving offense, but have completed a rehab program run by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Conditional licenses are designed to allow people to travel only when necessary – to work or to school, for example.
The law also expands the requirements for an ignition interlock device, closing a loophole that enabled some individuals convicted of DWI to avoid using an ignition interlock device.
With this change, youthful offenders are subject to ignition interlock requirements.
Also, this law increases the minimum period of ignition interlock from six to twelve months. It also allows that if a person swears under oath that they do not own a motor vehicle and will not operate any motor vehicle for a designated time that an ignition interlock system is not required.
I’m pleased these laws have changed to increase penalties for such offenses and clarify matters in the law. We need serious consequences for drunk driving if we have any hope of saving lives.
Jay-J’s Law Increases ‘Look Back’ Period for Child Abusers
This law, A.2623A, is named after another child victim, Jay-J Bolvin. Jay-J was severely beaten by his father in 2011, which left Jay-J with 11 fractured bones and epilepsy. Sadly, it wasn’t the first time his father had abused a child. Four years earlier, in 2007, Jay-J’s father had been convicted of third-degree assault for breaking another son’s arm and beating him severely.
Unfortunately, for abusing Jay-J, he pled guilty to misdemeanor assault because his previous assault conviction was not allowed to be considered.
Often, our laws allow what’s called a “look back” period. The look back period enables law enforcement and the courts to consider a person’s history of behavior when determining convictions. In the case of the crime of “aggravated assault upon a person less than 11 years old” that look back period was three years. Jay-J’s law increases that look back period to 10 years and help penalize repeat violent offenders. I was also a sponsor of this legislation and I am glad the Governor signed this into law. Children deserve the law’s protection and increasing the look back period will hopefully increase penalties for those who abuse children.
Breast Cancer Mapping
A new law will enable state funding to support breast cancer mapping to investigate geographic variations in breast cancer incidents. The state currently has a Breast Cancer Research and Education Fund, which is used to conduct research, seek causes of breast cancer, and screen and treat breast cancer. The latest law, A.1935A, signed by the governor will enable those funds also to be utilized for breast cancer mapping as well.
Improving Fire Safety for College Dorms
A new law will require that public and private colleges in New York provide a written fire safety notice to each student living in a college-owned or operated housing facility, both on and off campus. The law, A.5715A, requires the notice include a description of fire safety system for the student housing facility, including whether the facility is equipped with a fire sprinkler system. The legislation, of which I am a cosponsor, is named in honor of Kerry Rose Fitzsimons, who was a student at Marist College and died, along with two others in January 2012 in her off-campus housing unit.
The bill provides parents and students more information when selecting housing. I’m pleased this too was signed by the Governor.
I plan to keep you informed as other bills of interest are made law.
If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office.
My office can be reached by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.
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