Westchester County Legislators

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Westchester County Legislators Meet with State Delegation to Outline Priority Issues

On Thursday, the Westchester County Board of Legislators, Legislation Committee met with members of Westchester County’s State Delegation for the purpose of presenting and discussing the 2017 Joint Legislative Package.  The 2017 package contains 20 legislative items to be submitted through the State Legislative Delegation for consideration by the State Legislature and Governor in the current state legislative session.  The joint legislative package, which is submitted annually, represents measures that Westchester Legislators have identified as being of particular importance or urgency.  As in recent years, most of the legislative items submitted for consideration deal with the overarching issue of unfunded mandates and mandate relief.

Legislator Virginia Perez (D) Yonkers is Chair of the Legislation Committee.  An item of particular importance to Legislator Perez is the first item in the legislative package which is a proposal to raise the age of criminal responsibility in New York.  In April of 2016, the Board of Legislators passed a resolution commonly referred to as “Raise the Age”.  The age of criminal responsibility in New York is 16 years old.  It is the Board of Legislators belief that treating and incarcerating 16 year olds with adults does far more to harm that young person than it does to rehabilitate them.  The “Raise the Age” Legislation would not apply to individuals charged with violent crimes.

Legislator Perez’s brother Martin was killed in a shooting by two young men, one was 17 and the other was 18. The trigger man had prior convictions and had served time in jail.  Perez believes that if this young man, when serving time as a juvenile offender, had received some form of intervention instead of incarceration he may have changed the direction of his life for the better and Martin Perez may have been alive today.  Legislator Perez said, “We urge the state to consider a modification to the age of criminal responsibility and to find ways to rescue these kids from a criminal justice process that may in fact push them toward a life of criminal activity and that would ultimately make them a drain on our resources”.  The key to getting this resolution passed is an agreement from the state that they would fund the additional costs associated with handling these youth offenders’ cases outside of a jail setting.  Westchester would need to hire 10 new Probation Officers to manage youthful offenders who are offered alternatives to incarceration.  The “Raise the Age” legislation has passed the Assembly with the requisite funding.  We now need the State Senate and Governor to pass and properly fund this critical Legislation.

Other items in the Legislative Package include:

  • State Reimbursement to Counties for Full Amount of Expenditures for Indigent Legal Services
  • Secure More Money for the Bee-Line Bus Service
  • Restore Funding for Hudson Valley 211 Hotline
  • Child Care Subsidy Funding
  • Request Funding for State Mandated Rape Kit Law
  • Provide Medicaid Mandate Relief for Counties

Participants in the meeting from the State Delegation included, Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer, Assemblyman Steve Otis, and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow.

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