Albany lawmakers worked through the overnight hours into Saturday morning, settling a number of measures at the end of the legislative session. State Senator Patrick Gallivan ( R, C, IP ) of the 59th Senate District said some items were still overlooked.
Ethics reform was among the larger topics where progress was made. A bill was passed that will strip lawmakers of their pensions if they are convicted of corruption. State Senator Patrick Gallivan said it was an important step, but noted that the issue of independent expenditures still needs to be addressed in full.
“It’s been so called ‘dark money.’ You don’t know where it’s coming from in a lot of cases. You’re not allowed to coordinate with campaigns in a lot of cases. People have and have gotten in trouble because of it. So there was a significant amount of reforms put forward to try to deal with that, to try to limit some of that so-called ‘dark money’ and increase the transparency there,” said Gallivan.
The pension issue was prominent, as it followed the recent convictions of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Majority Leader Dean Skelos. Before the measure becomes law, it must pass the legislature again next year, and then be put before voters for their approval.
Among other bills passed, was one to focus more attention on the opioid and heroin epidemic that has spread across the state. The bill provides measures for control, treatment, and prevention, however it does not toughen any laws for dealing opiates. Even with the measures, Gallivan feels an important drug issue was overlooked.
“One of the areas that we’re completely missing the boat on is in the area where we’ve seen problems with Fentanyl, especially in Western New York. We did nothing to address that. The Senate did – we passed numerous pieces of legislation to deal with that. The Assembly was reluctant to take on anything that made a new crime or tougher penalties,” said Gallivan.
Measures that remained unsettled among lawmakers were those that would have closed the LLC loophole, whereby uncontrolled contributions can be made to politicians, and those that would have brought ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft to Upstate New York.