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COLUMN: Mandate relief, economic development, community safety top to-do list

— Much has been accomplished this session – a stark contrast to the recent past in Albany. We passed the budget on time and did not raise taxes. We expanded the DNA databank –something I’ve supported for years. We also committed to our communities by fixing bridges and roads within the “NY Works” program, and many projects are already underway. We invested in our State Parks again. We even tackled Medicaid reform to give localities relief from this state mandate.

A few things still on my to-do list include mandate relief, economic development, creating a friendlier business climate and criminalizing synthetic marijuana possession and strengthening laws against child pornography to name a few.

Community safety

Both the Senate and the Assembly passed different bills that would make possession of synthetic marijuana a criminal offense. I was pleased the Assembly passed legislation to criminalize the sale and distribution of these dangerous products. Synthetic marijuana, while sold and marketed as potpourri and incense, is dangerous and addictive. This legislation, which would place synthetic cannabinoids on the controlled substance list, is imperative for protecting the health of the public. Both houses need to work together to finalize a bill to criminalize these substances.

We need to strengthen our current laws and make viewing child pornography a punishable crime. Last month, the New York State Court of Appeals ruled that viewing child pornography is not a crime. The court’s decision stated that downloading and saving images of child pornography is a crime, but merely viewing does not constitute criminal possession. Given the latest ruling from the New York State Court of Appeals, it’s clear we need to strengthen our laws. In order to ensure justice and keep young children from being exploited, the Legislature must move to pass legislation that would include the viewing of child pornography as a crime.

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