Albany Update: Hayley and Diego’s Law Has Momentum

The Albany legislative session is scheduled to end two weeks from today, and time is running out for state legislators to make streets safer, buses faster, and cities more sustainable. Earlier today we discussed the prospects of bus lane camera enforcement. Here’s a survey of the other top legislative priorities for supporters of livable streets.

Hayley and Diego’s Law

Hayley and Diego’s Law is what’s known as a vulnerable user bill. It would create a new charge prosecutors can bring against drivers who kill or seriously injure pedestrians and cyclists. In the State Senate, where the bill is sponsored by Daniel Squadron, the bill passed by a 17-1 vote in today’s meeting of the transportation committee. Fare Hike Four member Ruben Diaz, Sr. was the only no vote, but seven senators went on the roll call as "aye without recommendation" — a way to vote yes without really meaning it.

alg_children.jpgDiego Martinez (l) and Hayley Ng were killed by a van driver who left his vehicle unattended and idling by a Chinatown curb. Photos via New York Daily News

A spokesperson for committee chair Martin Malave Dilan offered some favorable words for the bill, which now proceeds to the codes committee. "Obviously the bill goes a long way to stress the point that with the privilege of operating an automobile comes great responsibility," he said, adding that Dilan has sponsored legislation along those lines in the past. 

Over on the Assembly side, where Hayley and Diego’s Law is sponsored by Brian Kavanagh, Speaker Sheldon Silver’s office told us that the bill is "on the calendar." We also hear it’s been added to a set of prioritized bills called "the debate list," meaning the full chamber may vote on it at any time.

Smart Growth

The State Smart Growth Public Infrastructure Policy Act, sponsored by Assembly member Sam Hoyt and Senators Suzi Oppenheimer and Velmanette Montgomery, has passed the environmental conservation committees of both the Assembly and the Senate. In the last week, the bill received some technical amendments to align the two houses’ versions of the bill, and it now awaits action by the Assembly ways and means committee, chaired by Denny Farrell, and the Senate finance committee, chaired by Carl Kruger. The bill, which currently has 42 sponsors in the Assembly and six in the Senate, isn’t on the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting of the finance committee.

Complete Streets

Another piece of legislation that could have a big impact in smaller cities, suburbs, and rural areas is the complete streets bill. That bill would require new and reconstructed streets to accommodate all users, regardless of age or mode of travel. Some details of the bill are currently being retooled, said Will Stoner of AARP, but he expects the bill to be passed by the full Senate next Tuesday, the 15th.

At that point, said Stoner, AARP and other advocates will focus all their attention on the Assembly, where the bill is stuck in the transportation committee, even though committee chair David Gantt is officially a sponsor of the legislation. "We’re not going to accept any excuses once the Senate has passed the bill," said Stoner. The complete streets bill has fifteen sponsors in both the Senate and the Assembly.

Speed Cameras

One bill that looks like more of a long-shot right now is legislation to allow New York City to implement speeding enforcement cameras, sponsored by Assembly member Deborah Glick. That bill, which also requires a home rule request from City Council, currently has seven sponsors in the Assembly and one in the Senate. It awaits a vote by the transportation committees in both houses. Theresa Swidorski, Glick’s legislative director, noted that Gantt opposes speeding cameras in addition to bus lane cameras, but that for now, the first step is to secure the home rule request.