CRUSHING BLOW: Sammy’s Law Lacks ‘Enough Support’ in State Assembly

Amy Cohen speaking during a rally. File photo
Amy Cohen speaking during a rally. File photo

State lawmakers will not bring Sammy’s Law to a vote this session, according to advocates and the Brooklyn City Council Member who was influential in garnering long-overdue support for the measure in the Council.

The bill would allow New York City to set its own speed limits below the state minimum of 25 miles per hour.

“Unbelievable. I’m incredibly disappointed that the State Assembly is refusing to bring #SammysLaw up for a vote after the @NYCCouncil *and* @NYCMayor showed our support for the law through a super majority. Families across the city deserve this vote,” Council Member Jen Gutierrez (D-Williamsburg) tweeted on Wednesday after hearing that Albany lawmakers had said in a conference on Tuesday night they wouldn’t move on the matter.

Sammy’s Law — named after 12-year-old Sammy Cohen Eckstein, who was killed by a reckless driver in Brooklyn in 2013 — did not make it into the state budget this year despite the backing of both Gov. Hochul and the state Senate. Now, in order to become law, it must pass via the normal legislative process before the end of session on June 9, requiring majority votes from both houses in Albany and a so-called home rule message from the City Council, which passed last week.

“It is unconscionable that the bill may not come for a vote this session,” Amy Cohen, Sammy’s mother, told Streetsblog. “Not hearing it’s a done deal. But we’re not getting a commitment that this bill will come up for a vote.”

The law would finally allow New York City to set its own speed limits below 25 miles per hour at 20 miles per hour. It would not automatically change the speed limit, it would just authorize the city to do so.

The Senate is expected to pass the bill, but the Assembly is not — recalling the end of session in 2021, when the lower chamber failed to bring the legislation to a vote before lawmakers skipped town for the summer.

Streetsblog previously reported that Assembly Member William Magnarelli (D-Syracuse), the chairman of the Transportation Committee, was supportive of the bill as long as it came with a home rule message. Insiders say Speaker Heastie is refusing to hold a vote due to pushback from lawmakers. Only in the last two weeks did he assign the bill to Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal (D-Upper West Side), after its main sponsor, Assembly Member Dick Gottfried, retired last year. State Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal (D-West Side) is carrying the bill in the upper house.

“It doesn’t appear to have enough support in the Assembly, so I doubt it will get to the floor,” said Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon in a text message to Streetsblog.

Rosenthal, who declined to comment on what was said during Tuesday night’s meeting, told Streetsblog that she is still pushing the bill forward.

“I can’t forecast the future, I’m trying very hard to keep pushing it. There are members against it, that’s the challenge,” she said Wednesday.

Neither Heastie nor Magnarelli responded to requests for comment. Heastie has never spoken publicly about Sammy’s Law.

This is a breaking story and will be updated as soon as possible.