State Legislature targets revenge porn, passes other uncontroversial bills

State Sen. John DeFrancisco arguing on the floor of the New York Senate.
State Sen. John DeFrancisco arguing on the floor of the New York Senate.
Mike Groll
State Sen. John DeFrancisco.

State Legislature targets revenge porn, passes other uncontroversial bills

As session winds down some small measures squeak through.
June 19, 2018

State lawmakers inched closer to the end of the legislative session on Tuesday, passing necessary but generally uncontroversial bills in a marathon day of legislating which went late into the night. But while major legislative issues were saved for Wednesday, the final day of session, a few small accomplishments were achieved in both houses on Tuesday.
 

What happened in the Senate

Early in the afternoon, Senate bells rang for over half an hour, indicating that it was time for members to enter the chamber and begin the day’s proceedings. The ringing went unheeded, as the Democrats huddled for a conference meeting. Session finally began shortly before 2:00 in the afternoon.

The session began by addressing several resolutions brought before the Senate, including one that sponsored by Sen. Jose Rivera, calling for the proclamation of June 2018 as “Immigrant Heritage Month.” After a passionate speech by Sen. Luis Sepulveda denouncing the Trump administration policy of separating children from their families at the border, Republican Deputy Majority Leader called for sticking to the topic at hand.

“I just request that if you’re going to speak on the bill, to confine it to the topic of the bill, and the least political it is, the better,” DeFrancisco said.

“The least political, the better” could have been the unofficial title for the Senate session on Tuesday. Although the session lasted late into the night, it was largely due to the need to pass non-controversial bills, such as local tax exemptions. The state Senate also confirmed several statewide judges.

State Sen. John Bonacic, who is retiring at the end of this year, said “compared to previous year’s, this end-of-session has been quieter than others.”

Bonacic is a staunch supporter of legalizing sports betting, but admits this may not come to pass, due to apathy from the Assembly Democrats and the governor. “I will continue to work until the end of session to see that this bill receives fair consideration, but it appears that the Assembly and governor do not want to see this bill move this year,” he said.

One minorly contentious bill that passed shortly before 10:00 p.m. involved setting aside money from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to fund job training for employees of the Indian Point nuclear facility, which is being closed. The bill passed over some opposition from Democrats who believed it allocated too many funds for a purpose unrelated to NYSERDA’s mission and that was what passed for drama in the Senate chamber on Tuesday.
 

What happened in the Assembly

Unlike the state Senate, the Assembly began its session bright and early, at around 11:00 a.m., to get a head start on affirming such bills as adding in an extra “z” to the spelling of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge – one of many bills previously passed by the Senate that the Assembly was now addressing. Another such bill, heavily contested by Republican assemblyman Andy Goodell, who argued it was unnecessary, will require that state parks include signs warning against tick-borne diseases.

Another potentially more controversial bill already approved by the Senate that the Assembly passed on Tuesday would create a commission to oversee claims of prosecutorial misconduct. The District Attorneys Association of the State of New York had opposed this bill, and it is possible that Cuomo could issue a veto.

The Assembly also passed a bill making the dissemination of intimate photos a crime. This bill outlawing “revenge porn” was sponsored by Democratic Assemblyman Edward Braunstein and Republican Sen. Phil Boyle.

But although they were able to reach a bipartisan agreement on the revenge porn bill, the Assembly Majority is unlikely to take up a package of bills that seek to reform the state’s procurement process and increase transparency. The Senate passed these bills weeks ago, but good government advocates believe Gov. Andrew Cuomo is leaning on Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie to prevent him from bringing the bills to the Assembly floor. Blair Horner, executive director of the New York Public Interest Research Group, said that Cuomo was likely steering clear of negotiations in part because he is not invested in seeing these bills pass.

“I think he's reluctant to get engaged on some of these issues, because issues such as ethics reform, corruption, and other corruption-busting measures I think he doesn't like,” Horner said.

Correction: The headline to this article originally implied that the revenge porn bill passed the Legislature. In fact, it only passed the Assembly.

Grace Segers
is City & State’s digital reporter. She writes daily content on New York City and New York state politics.
20180716