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Cuomo makes justice for child sexual assault survivors priority for 2019

  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveils his 2019 Justice Agenda in New York City on Dec. 17 urging the legislature to act in the first 100 days of the next legislative session, including a vote on the long-sought Child Victims Act.

  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveils his 2019 Justice Agenda in New York City on Dec. 17 urging the legislature to act in the first 100 days of the next legislative session.

Richard Moody Columbia-Greene Media

December 19, 2018 05:11 pm

NEW YORK — A New Baltimore native and advocate for survivors of child sexual assault praised Gov. Andrew Cuomo for including passage of legislation that would eliminate the statute of limitations for sex crimes committed against children in his priorities for the first 100 days of the 2019 session.

Gary Greenberg has advocated for the Child Victims Act for more than two years.

“I applaud Gov. Cuomo for his strong statement on passing the Child Victims Act in the upcoming legislative session,” Greenberg said Monday. “For years, I have been calling on Gov. Cuomo and his administration to make New York the toughest state for predators to live in. Today, Gov. Cuomo took the first step in the process to see a child victims act passed.”

Cuomo announced his priorities, which include various social justice initiatives, in New York City on Monday.

The Child Victims Act, a piece of legislation that has made several transformations over the years. In addition to eliminating the statute of limitations, the Child Victims Act would also extend the statute of limitations in civil cases until the survivor turns 50, with a one-year period for past victims of abuse to file a civil suit against involved organizations.

“For too long, this sexual abuse of children has been hidden and unpunished,” Cuomo said in his speech Monday. “And for too long, this state and this nation have had two forms of justice: one for average New Yorkers and one for people of position or people of privilege. That is going to stop.”

The Assembly has passed a version of the Child Victims Act the past two years, but the bill, stuck in the Rules Committee, hasn’t reached the floor of the Republican-controlled Senate for a vote.

A sticking point for Republicans in the bill was the one-year, look-back period. Republicans argued such a provision could potentially bankrupt organizations such as the Catholic Church.

Power in the Senate shifted with the Nov. 6 election as Democrats took a majority of seats, which may have something to do with the efforts of Greenberg’s Fighting for Children Political Action Committee during the election season.

Greenberg has in the past expressed hope that a power shift in Albany would be needed before some version of the Child Victims Act passes the upcoming legislative session that starts Jan. 1.

“Fighting for Children PAC endorsed senators and assemblypersons and the governor to get the Child Victims Act passed in the first 30 days of the 2019 legislative session,” Greenberg said.

Cuomo also used his speech to take aim at the federal government, pushing proposals to shield the state from activities in Washington in the past year including a millionaire’s tax, fight to repeal the $10,000 cap imposed by Congress in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed in December 2017 on state and local tax deductions for federal taxes, and to codify the health insurance exchange into law and pass a related law to ensure pre-existing conditions continue to be covered by insurance companies.

“I was glad to see the governor talk about making the tax cap permanent and investing in infrastructure, but most of his so-called agenda focuses on social wedge issues to advance his national ambitions instead of taking real action to help New Yorkers with the fiscal issues we all face,” state Sen. George Amedore Jr., R-46, said.

“The tax cap helps limit the increase in property taxes, but where are the proposals to actually reduce the tax burden? That’s what I would like to see the governor address in the first 100 days of the next session,” Amedore said.

“In 1970, our state rightly recognized that women must control their own health care,” said Robin Chappelle Golston, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts. “Now, almost 50 years later, with a federal government dedicated to eroding access to reproductive health care, from contraception to abortion, New York will again show the nation that health care belongs in our own hands.”

Cuomo also called for passage of a bill that would shift state abortion rights from the penal law code to the health law code, legislation Democrats in Albany have pushed for years.

“This year, the state Legislature is in a better position than ever to enact truly progressive change,” Assemblywoman Didi Barrett, D-106, said. “I’ve championed the Reproductive Health Act in the Assembly for many years, and it’s encouraging to finally have the governor and the Senate on the same page.”



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