Albany Update: Bill to Protect Peds and Cyclists One Step Closer to Law

At yesterday’s meeting of the State Senate codes committee, Hayley and Diego’s Law passed in a 13-3 vote. The bill, which should give prosecutors greater leeway to bring charges against motorists who injure or kill pedestrians and cyclists, now moves to the finance committee. It passed the full Assembly earlier this week.

Three Republicans, including Brooklyn’s Marty Golden, voted against the bill, and another two voted "aye without recommendation" — the non-committal way to let a bill pass. According to a source in the capitol, Golden objects to the legislation on the grounds that it would "punish people for making mistakes."

Golden should know better. He represents an area where sidewalks are full of pedestrians, and carelessness behind the wheel of a multi-ton vehicle is especially dangerous. Parents whom he represents are fed up with the reckless driving they encounter on their streets as they walk their kids to school. The purpose of this bill isn’t to punish people for making mistakes, it’s to prevent acts of negligence and recklessness that maim and kill other people.

At the same committee meeting, the bus camera bill passed in a unanimous 16-0 vote. A similar bill cleared the State Senate two years ago, so this isn’t groundbreaking news, but it looks like the fate of bus cams is poised to rest with Shelly Silver’s Assembly once again.

A process note: The Senate is actually pretty far ahead of the Assembly when it comes to conducting its business transparently. It’s much easier to look up legislation and roll calls, and I can embed the video from the codes committee hearing (all 42 minutes of it!) for all to see.

That said, if you can withstand the tedium of this video, it’s kind of startling how little discussion each bill receives. The committee plowed through 23 bills in less than 43 minutes. The votes are recorded on paper and tallied later by the committee clerk. In general, if no one raises an objection during the discussion, you can assume that a bill passed. While the audio quality makes it difficult to parse exactly what’s being said, you can watch the brief discussion of Hayley and Diego’s law at the 6:30 mark, and the bus cam bill discussion at 11:05.