Scandal-Plagued Leglislative Session Ends With A Whimper

Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb

Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb

The Legislature Failed To Do Enough To Overcome A Scandal-Plagued Session
That Will Be Remembered For The Wrong Reasons

The 2015 legislative session ends with too many lawmakers leaving Albany with a feeling of relief, rather than a sense of accomplishment. Despite opportunities to foster meaningful reforms and implement sound public policy, the Legislature failed to do enough to overcome a scandal-plagued session that will be remembered for the wrong reasons.

Unprecedented distractions, a complete disregard for Upstate’s needs, and a misguided commitment to liberal priorities contributed to legislative failures in several areas. It is truly disappointing that we leave Albany this year without:

  • Enactment of Brittany’s Law. Creating a registry of violent felony offenders will help curtail incidence of violence and save lives. Named for Brittany Passalacqua, a 12-year-old girl who was killed by a convicted felon who lied about his violent past, this registry would save lives and improve safety for children, women, and communities.
  • A vote in the Assembly on Mixed Martial Arts. Despite widespread bipartisan support, Majority sponsorship, and passage several times in the Senate, this measure has been blocked by Assembly Democrats since 2007. Because of their inaction, New York remains the only state in the country not to legalize this revenue-generating sport.
  • A delay to the Common Core tests. The state’s education system will remain in turmoil until the flawed program is fixed. Common Core in its current form should not serve as the basis for performance standards or evaluations. Albany failed to listen to the loud and clear message delivered this spring by nearly 200,000 students opting outs of tests.
  • A moratorium on unfunded mandates. The property tax cap has helped control tax increases, but New York’s property owners are still grossly overburdened. Lowering the costs on local governments through mandate relief is the only way to effectively and directly address the true driver of local property taxes.
  • Reform or repeal to the SAFE Act. New York is no safer since this hastily-crafted and secretive legislation was rushed through the Legislature in 2013. The only individuals who continue to be penalized by the SAFE Act are law-abiding gun owners.
  • Comprehensive pension forfeiture legislation. Assembly Democrats walked away from an agreed-upon pension forfeiture bill only to pass a weakened version that had no chance of becoming law. The lack of stronger ethics reforms after an unprecedented year for corruption shows that Albany still isn’t capable of cleaning up its own house.
  • Small business assistance and improvements to New York’s business climate. The upstate “revitalization” grant program and other economic development gimmicks that pick winners and losers, with funding controlled by a single downstate official, will not make a dent in what New York needs to turn the economy around.

The measures we failed to address must become our highest priorities when we reconvene in Albany. New Yorkers deserve better than they received from state government this session. It is our responsibility to set the bar higher in 2016 and deliver more for the millions of New Yorkers we represent.


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