Slow down; upcoming bills need discussion
The state Legislature has been prodigiously busy since the state legislative session began.
Some of the legislation that was passed makes sense. As we wrote recently in this space, election reform and making it easier for people to vote is something we can all get behind. It was no surprise to see the Jose Peralta DREAM Act or GENDA legislation be approved. Democrats seemed to be grabbing some of the low-hanging, noncontroversial fruit before turning attention to the state budget. To the victors go the spoils; the first two weeks of the state legislative session are state Democrats’ spoils for retaking the state Senate in the November election.
The pace isn’t slowing down, but the fruit isn’t quite so low-hanging right now either.
The Assembly’s Codes Committee discussed several pieces of legislation Monday that were then almost immediately passed along to the full Assembly for passage. Among them are pieces of legislation that local residents may have been interested in voicing an opinion, such as legislation mandating the safe storage of firearms within the home of a legal gun owner. The bill, A02686, would have created criminal penalties for any person who resides with a child under the age of 16 and who stores or otherwise leaves a rifle, shotgun or firearm out of his or her immediate possession or control without having first securely locked such rifle, shotgun or firearm in an appropriate safe storage depository or rendered it incapable of being fired by using an appropriate gun locking device. Smartly, it wasn’t passed when the Legislature passed much of the rest of the gun safety legislation package Tuesday.
Legislation that has received legislative approval and now will be sent for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature include a bill that prohibits teachers and other school employees from carrying firearms on school grounds; legislation authorizing the removal of guns from the home of a person who has been deemed a risk to themselves or to others if a court determines firearms the person is considered dangerous or mentally ill; and legislation to extend the waiting period from three days to 30 days after an inconclusive background check before a gun can be purchased.
We’re sure there are many opinions on both sides of the legislation — but there won’t be time in Albany’s collective haste to hear them. That’s unfortunate. It’s also a bad sign of things to come.
Marijuana legalization is sure to be on the agenda in the coming days. Making the state’s 2 percent property tax cap will also be discussed, and that’s an issue that could have an immense impact on both your tax bill and on the services that can be provided by your town, village or city depending on the way the legislation is written. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has made no secret of his plans for a Green New Deal in New York state — a program that could cost the state billions while adding to New York’s well-deserved reputation as being unfriendly to business.
It’s time for the pace to slow down some in Albany. The legislation is trickier now, and Democrats need to do well to take some extra time, listen to the concerns of Republicans and constituents from throughout the state and then address those concerns. Carl Heastie, state Assembly speaker, and Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Senate majority leader, both made a point of saying they would govern the entire state, not just their respective legislative districts. Now is the time for those statements to mean something.