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No excuse for Albany to fold up its tent

The New York State Capitol, where the Senate

The New York State Capitol, where the Senate is stuck in a 31-31 political stalemate. Photo Credit: Hans Pennink

Four days remain on the legislative schedule in Albany and there still is no sight of State Sen. Tom Croci, the Long Island Republican whose recent return to active duty in the Navy left the chamber in the paralysis of a 31-31 GOP-Democratic split. Gov. Andrew Cuomo seems uninterested in intervening to get significant legislation moving. Nothing controversial and little of substance is being passed by both the Senate and Assembly and readied for Cuomo’s signature.

This is an abdication of their responsibility to work for the people of New York.

There’s still time for Albany to revert to form and indulge in the last-minute horse-trading that produces the infamous big ugly — a pastiche of unrelated bills in which everyone holds one’s nose and gets something.

One issue not ripe for some grand bargain is sports gambling. It’s too complicated to rush. Lawmakers should examine it thoroughly and, yes, hold hearings. Legislation can be passed in January or put in next year’s budget.

One no-brainer is a bill to renew NYC’s program to install speed cameras near schools and expand the number by 150. It has reduced speeding and injuries but expires June 30. The measure has passed the Assembly; the Senate should follow suit.

Good ethics reforms include one to give the state comptroller the power to review contracts and appropriations.

A bill to decouple teacher evaluations from state tests is not the answer when it fails to include some way to evaluate teachers. Produce an alternative and solve the problem in the next session. While an allied proposal to increase the number of charter schools and remove regional caps is good, a provision to allow yeshivas to operate outside state educational standards is a non-starter.

As for Cuomo’s “red-flag” legislation — which would allow teachers, school officials, family members and police officials to go to court to seek a psychiatric evaluation of someone they believe is dangerous and should be denied access to guns — school districts should have the primary responsibility for interventions. But there might be instances when teachers need that ability to act. Pass the bill.


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