As a legislator, it truly saddens me to see public officials in the news for yet another corruption scandal—and I can only imagine how it makes everyday New Yorkers feel. It seems there is a never-ending tide of graft and corruption, which reinforces the perception that all lawmakers are crooks.
If the allegations released today are proven true, it is yet another embarrassment for New York State. As public servants, we need to take action to prevent this kind of activity from happening and provide the strictest of punishment for public officials who abuse their positions.
Three years ago, I introduced the Public Corruption Prevention and Enforcement Act (PCPEA) in the hopes that New York would no longer be synonymous with scandal and once again recognized as having public integrity. The PCPEA enacts a duty of faithful public service. The PCPEA expands the crime of defrauding the government to punish any and all corrupt schemes involving public servants and others who seek to abuse the operation of government in any way, and it makes sure that public bribery is treated just as harshly as it is treated in the private sector.
It is time that lawmakers work together to enrich the lives of New Yorkers instead of their own wallets. If we want to eliminate the culture of corruption, we need a law that makes clear that public officials must serve the public first and foremost. Now is the time for the immediate debate and passage of the Public Corruption Protection and Enforcement Act.
For a complete description of Bill A2113, please click here or see below.
Public Corruption Protection and Enforcement Act details:
Enacts a Duty of Faithful Public Service: Incredibly, there’s no such duty on the books today. The Joe Bruno scandal showed what a glaring hole this is. If we want to eliminate the culture of corruption, we need a law that makes clear that public officials must serve the public first and foremost.
Punishes Corrupt Schemes to Defraud the Government: Currently, the law only punishes schemes to defraud government agencies of property, services, or resources. The PCPEA expands the crime of defrauding the government to punish any and all corrupt schemes involving public servants and others who seek to corrupt the operation of government in any way.
Reforms Criminal Bribery Statutes: The bill takes action to ensure that bribery of apublic official is punished just as seriously as completed bribes, and it makes sure that public bribery is treated in the same way as bribery in the private sector.
Reforms the Member Item Process: The bill creates new standards and prohibitions for community projects grants, which are commonly known as “member items.” Among other protections, it stops lawmakers from funneling taxpayer money into shady nonprofits that don’t even provide real services, but in which they or their relatives have a financial interest.
Enhances Financial Disclosure for State Officials: As it stands, the clients that legislators represent in private practice are hidden from public view. While this makes sense in a few instances — such as when the clients are involved in family court cases, where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy — there’s no reason why most of lawmakers’ private clients shouldn’t be disclosed, just as they are in other states. This bill will allow the public to monitor the sources and values of outside income earned by our elected officials.
Strengthens Campaign Finance Rules: Up until n ow candidates have legally been allowed to get away with disguising loans intended for campaign use as personal gifts—allowing them to circumvent campaign contribution limits. This bill closes that loophole.
The shootings last month in Sandy Hook, Connecticut and Webster, New York were terrible tragedies which evoked outpourings of sadness and grief, but – more importantly – there has been a growing demand to end the gun violence.
Today, the New York State Legislature took an important step to that end by passing a first-in-the-nation law which gives us the strongest gun control policy in America.
The new law strengthens gun-control and safety regulations, increases criminal penalties for the illegal use of guns and ensures that those who may be a danger to themselves or others due to a mental illness do not have access to firearms. It would also require all people purchasing ammunition to undergo a state background check and present state-issued photo identification so that those with criminal weapons, illegal or unlicensed weapons do not have easy access to bullets.
The legislation we passed strengthens New York State’s existing assault weapons ban to prohibit weapons that include one or more of the features that increase the lethality of a semi-automatic weapon. Further tightening the law, a grandfather clause is added for owners of legal semi-automatic weapons provided they register them with the state police, recertify the registration every 5 years and undergo a background check.
Additionally, this law would remove a grandfather clause that exists under current law and ban all high-capacity ammunition clips with the capacity to hold more than 10 rounds. From this day forward, no clips with the capacity to hold more than 7 rounds can be sold.
This law would establish statewide standards for handgun-license applications and a statewide database of handgun licenses. This will enable state police to crosscheck the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to determine if any current licensees have been legally disqualified from possessing firearms under federal law.
The legislation we passed also addresses important mental-health issues. It will tighten Kendra’s Law – a 1999 law that provides for court-ordered assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) for certain people with mental illness. The new legislation will require mental-health professionals to report to law enforcement when they believe a person receiving mental-health services is a danger to themselves or others. Those who possess a firearm license would have their license revoked or suspended and be required to surrender their firearms.
Under this legislation, schools will be able to qualify for reimbursement of building aid assistance if they choose to add electronic systems and hardened doors to increase safety. This safety measure is of critical importance to keeping our kids safe in their classrooms.
While there is more still that we must do, after it is signed into law by the Governor, New York will have the strongest gun regulations in the country. The measures in the law will go a long way to securing all New Yorkers and making us a far safer state.