Support in NY State Assembly growing for Child Victims Act

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Monday, May 30, 2016

Here is an expanded version of the lead item of my “Albany Insider” column from Monday’s editions:

Bipartisan support continues to grow in the state Assembly for a bill that would make it easier for kids who were sexually abused to seek justice as adults.

But it may not be enough if there aren’t 76 Democrats ready to vote for the measure.

A bill long sponsored by Assemblywoman Margaret Markey (D-Queens) that would give child sex abuse victims more time to bring civil cases could bring civil cases now has 64 sponsors-just 12 shy of the 76 votes that would be needed for passage.

Of the 64 sponsors, 46 are Democrats and 18 are Republicans.

The total number of sponsors is the most the bill has garnered since the bill was first introduced in 2006.

But in typical Albany fashion, the high-number of bipartisan sponsors in the 150-member chamber doesn’t mean the bill will actually make it to the floor for a vote. That’s because the Assembly Democratic majority will not even bring the measure up unless the Dems can provide all 76 votes needed to pass it.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie has said he has begun surveying his members to see where they stand on the issue.

“I am pleased that this week there is strong movement in our house to bring (the Child Victims Act) to a vote in the next few weeks,” Markey said. “I’m very grateful for the strong support of 64 of my colleagues who have joined me to co-sponsor the Child Victims Act, a dozen who have been sponsors since the very first bill in 2006.”

The Markey bill would eliminate the time limits a child sex abuse victim has to bring a civil lawsuit. Currently, a person who is abused as a child has until their 23rd birthday to bring a case.

Her bill would also give those whose no longer can sue under current law a one-year window to file a civil lawsuit.

“New York is one of the worst states in all of America for how it treats children and survivors of child sex abuse crimes,” Markey said. “This year is the time to change that shameful last-place status.”

Lawmakers are not due back in Albany until Wednesday, when there will be just nine session days left before the scheduled June 16 end of the legislative calendar.

The Child Victims Act bill is sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan), where it has 14 co-sponsors. None are from the Republican majority, which opposes the one-year window to revive old cases.

Hoylman last week tried to force a vote on the Senate floor on a separate, more comprehensive bill that would eliminate statute of limitations for both civil and criminal sexual abuse cases, include the one-year window, and treat public and private institutions the same when it comes to sex abuse cases. But the GOP blocked the measure.

Markey is the Assembly sponsor of the ominibus bill as well but is focusing her efforts on her original bill that has more sponsors.

Gov. Cuomo has said he would like to see a bill passed by the end of the legislative session that eliminates the statutue of limitations pertaining to criminal cases, extends it for civil cases, and treats public and private institutions the same when it comes to child sex abuse cases.

He said he’s open to a one-year window to revive old cases, but only if it protects due process for both sides.

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