Albany Lawmakers Adjourn Passing Several Bills

Photo: Matt H. Wade / CC BY 3.0

ALBANY – The New York Legislature has completed its work for 2019; passing several bills including the “Farm Workers Bill,” “gay panic” defense bill and legislation that imposes a temporary suspension of facial recognition technology in schools.

The state Senate adjourned just before 1 a.m. Friday and the Assembly followed it Friday morning.

One of the last bills to pass would replace criminal penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana with fines. That measure advanced after legalization efforts stalled.

Another bill that was passed just this week bans the use of “gay panic” and “trans panic” defense. The legislation prevents a defendant from seeking to use a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity as an affirmative defense to murder.

Lawmakers in the Assembly also passed legislation that imposes a temporary suspension on the use and purchase of facial recognition technology in New York schools.

The “Farm Workers Bill,” which allows farm workers to unionize, also passed. The proposal ensures farm workers earn overtime if they work more than 60 hours during the week.

Farm workers would also be guaranteed one day of rest each week. Governor Andrew Cuomo is expected to sign the bill into law.

In total, the six-month session was marked by liberal victories, including new laws codifying abortion rights, helping immigrants, addressing the causes of climate change and protecting tenants.

The accomplishments are the result of Democratic gains in last year’s elections that gave the party control of both the state Assembly and Senate.

Other bills that passed this year include ones that extend the statute of limitations for child molestation, permit early voting, eliminate a religious vaccine exemption and ban the declawing of cats.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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