The Cuomo Administration is touting one of the most progressive agendas in New York State history, 2019 Justice Agenda. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul were sworn-in for a third term Tuesday night in New York City. WBFO senior reporter Eileen Buckley talked to Hochul about several topics including passing the Child Victims Act, legalizing recreational marijuana and a gun safety measure as a new senate democratic majority takes over when the legislature returns to work January 9 in Albany.
Lt. Governor Hochul tells WBFO News passing the Child Victims Act will be a 'dramatic change' for sexual abuse victims by extending the statute of limitations.
“This will be so dramatic for those individuals,” remarked Hochul.
Under the current law, a victim of child abuse must report it by their 23rd birthday. But Hochul said that is not realistic for many victims abused as children and teens.
“We are going to extend this to age 50 because states do it. It just has been absurd to think people are going to come forward,” Hochul explained.
Hochul referred to the priest sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, as an example of the many abused victims. Hochul, a Catholic, described it as “very painful” and how it has torn apart the diocese.
WBFO asked Hochul as a practicing Catholic, what would she like to see Bishop Richard Malone doe in 2019 to deal with the scandal, given he refuses to step down.
“I think he should leave, because I find it scandalous that there has been a cover up, again I don’t have the power to make that happen, but I think you need a clean house to restore the confidence and faith of the religious in this community,” replied Hochul.
On the topic of gun safety measure, Hochul explained how a “Red Flag” bill looks to add to the state’s Safe Act. She said it could prevent future school shootings.
“We’re simply saying when you have a red flag that says there is a student in high school or middle school, who is acting certain way or makes threats or a psychological evaluation - do they have access to guns at home,” Hochul explained. “It’s simply an enhancement on the safe act.”
The Cuomo Administration is also making it a priority in this term to try and legalize recreational marijuana for adults. We asked her why it's so important that New York legalize marijuana.
“We have to examine the fact that circumstances and times have changed. We are literally a state that will be surrounded by a country, Canada and other states, going down as far as the District of Columbia – where adult use of marijuana is legalized and that’s a reality we have to deal with,” Hochul stated.
Hochul tells us she is convinced that with a shift to a new democratic majority in the state legislature, these items have a chance of being approved this year.
Hochul has also made a very strong commitment to fight for women’s rights and reproductive health.
“As a woman in state-wide office, a rarity, that I’m going to be using my position to continue to champion the rights of all women – whether it’s fighting for reproductive health, affordable child care,” remarked Hochul. “Because during my first term, it was led by republicans who literally said that women should not be able to make their own reproductive choices, something that we wanted to enshrine in our state law to make sure they are protected. They’ve not made it a priority as we have to make sure insurance companies cover contraception, which we think is a basic right to be able to plan your families – something I’ve been fighting for."
Hochul is also devoted to fighting for equal pay for equal work and access to child care.
“This is one of the greatest barriers to women earning equal pay is the lack of access to child care and it affects family incomes,” Hochul stated.
The State Legislature begins its session on January 9th.