N.Y. Senate Delays Action on Rockefeller Drug Laws
Backers of a bill that would repeal the remainder of New York's Rockefeller-era drug laws have decided to alter their approach to getting the bill passed in hopes of avoiding charges of being soft on crime, the Albany Times-Union reported March 7.
Senate Democrats have decided not to bring the legislation to a separate vote but rather to roll the bill into a budget bill, seeking to avoid having individual Senate members on record as casting votes in favor of the sentencing-reform measure. Such a vote could leave lawmakers open to promised Republican attacks during the 2010 election season.
Democrats control the state Senate by a 32-30 margin. The state Assembly has already approved the reform bill, which eliminates many mandatory-sentencing provisions for drug offenses.
The shift could cause problems for the budget measure, however. “Our position is these bills should be taken up on the merits and not folded into a budget bill,” said Senate GOP spokesman Scott Reif.