New Laws Created to Revitalize Community, Protect Overdose Victims, Bar Domestic Violence Offenders from Owning Firearms

A Legislative Column from Assemblyman Will Barclay (R,C,I—Pulaski)

There were, once again, a number of bills signed into law recently that I thought many of you would be interested to learn about. As I’ve previously stated, though I may not agree with all that was passed this session, much was accomplished. This summer, Gov. Cuomo has signed many and continues to do so.

The bill to create land banks was signed into law July 29. I was pleased to co-sponsor this legislation that I hope will help revitalize downtowns and give municipalities the tools they need to return abandoned properties to the tax rolls. A land bank is a not-for-profit corporation with its own board of directors that will have the ability to convert vacant, abandoned or tax-delinquent properties into productive use. Land banks will be an authority created by a county, city, town or village. They will be able to invest or rehabilitate properties and encourage volunteerism. Land banks will operate through the New York State Urban Development Corporation, an arm of the Empire State Development Corporation. I believe this will help combine local visions with state resources.

Currently, many municipalities work to return abandoned properties to the tax rolls but it can take years in some cases with property and tax liens. This bill gives the land bank more authority to expedite the processes involved with foreclosure.

New York passes Good Samaritan Law, a law that encourages people to call 911 if they are in the company of a person who has overdosed using drugs or alcohol.

The law bars arrests and prosecution for personal possession of drugs, paraphernalia or underage drinking when someone calls for help to save the life of an overdose victim. This law made national headlines in Time magazine recently. According to the article, overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in New York and the number one injury-related killer of adults 35-54. It is responsible for some 28,000 annual deaths nationally.

Research finds that most overdoses occur in the company of other people. It generally takes several hours to cause death; however, in up to half of cases, no one calls 911 for help due to fear of arrest and prosecution. The law specifically bars prosecution of a person who, in good faith, seeks health care for someone who is experiencing a drug or alcohol overdose or other life-threatening medical emergency. Hopefully this law will go a long way to prevent accidental overdoses.

This month New York closed a loophole to prevent those convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors from purchasing firearms. Federal law forbids the sale of firearms to individuals convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. Now, in accordance with the new law, New York’s courts must forward those names to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which is used for background checks of those purchasing firearms.

Currently, a firearm may not be sold to a person who has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. Firearm eligibility is determined by conducting a background check, which includes a check of automated criminal databases. The passing of this new law will ensure that New York State properly reports certain domestic violence convictions to federal authorities. The law closes the loopholes by changing the way the data is submitted and tracked to keep guns out of the hands of domestic violence offenders who are prohibited by law from purchasing a firearm.

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 North Second Street, Fulton, New York 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185. You can also friend me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.