Hope for desperately needed reforms of ethics and election laws is fading as the June 16 scheduled finish of this year’s legislative session approaches.
Most distressingly, lawmakers seem set on doing little to curtail corruption, despite the sentencing of former legislative leaders Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos, and ongoing investigations into the campaign of Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The only likely change is pension stripping for officials convicted of job-related felonies. That’s a good start. But there’s more to do, like limiting or banning outside income, or preventing huge contributions from secretive limited liability companies. For voters, how about moving deadlines for registering to vote and for changing parties closer to election dates, automatically registering eligible voters when they interact with state agencies, and early voting?
But nothing is stirring. The people of New York want change. Surprise us. Meanwhile, let’s get these passed:
Hit-and-run penalties — For years, the Senate has passed legislation to stiffen penalties for drivers leaving the scene of serious accidents, but the Assembly refuses. This year’s bill would extend the maximum sentence from 7 to 15 years.
Child Safe Products Act — This has been bottled up in the Senate and includes lists of chemicals in children’s products that manufacturers would have to disclose. Some would be banned from toys and such, including arsenic, mercury, lead and cadmium.
Triclosan ban — The antibacterial agent is found in soap, toothpaste and shampoo. Evidence suggests it plays a role in the development of cancer. And it could be helping to build the next generation of resistant super-bacteria.
Uber insurance — New York is the only state in which ride-sharing firms can’t buy coverage required by insurers. In NYC, Uber drivers buy their own commercial insurance. Legislation for the rest of the state must be passed. Regulations covering registration, background checks and handicapped access are needed, but are stuck in Albany’s paralysis.
These bills merit approval. New Yorkers want their government to work for them. That’s not too much to ask.