Governor proposes changes in rape, styrofoam laws

Dec 17, 2019

Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to close a loophole in New York law that prevents prosecutors from bringing rape charges in certain cases when victims become drunk voluntarily. He also has proposed prohibiting the use of styrofoam, or expanded polystyrene, single-use food containers.

Both proposals are expected to be included in the governor's State of the State Address next month.

The rape proposal would change the state's definition of who cannot legally consent to sexual activity. State law currently does not cover someone who remains conscious but is too drunk to consent after becoming drunk voluntarily.

District attorneys have said the current law allows defendants to claim sexual activity was consensual even when a victim was too impaired to know what was happening.

In addition to prohibiting styrofoam food containers, the governor's plan calls for eliminating the sale of expanded polystyrene packaging materials, more commonly known as packing peanuts. The legislation would also authorize the state Department of Environmental Conservation to review and take action to limit or ban other packaging materials upon a finding of environmental impact.

The styrofoam ban would take effect on Jan. 1, 2022 and follows the state's ban on single-use plastic bags set to take effect in March.