Democratic state lawmakers quickly got down to business last month when their legislative session started, passing a series of major laws and breaking a logjam that typically plagues the State Capitol. But the pace of their work has slowed and the finger-pointing has begun over why a series of criminal justice reforms won't be approved this week.
The plan was for both houses to pass bills that would end cash bail, ensure a right to a speedy trial, and a bill aimed at discovery reform.
But that ended up not happening and now some are wondering if it will even get done before the budget is due at the end of next month.
Senator Jamaal Bailey said, “Still having conversations. You know the great thing about a Democratic majority in both sides of the house is that we continue to have conversations. They are productive ones. And we really want to get this done sooner rather than later.”
Legislation was supposed to come easier with Democrats winning control of the Senate last November and now controlling both houses. But sources say some of the newly-elected senators from suburban districts including the Hudson Valley and Long Island have concerns about plans to eliminate cash bail.
Assembly member Daniel O’Donnell said, “Now that we have a senate that thinks more like we do than we do, the question is how do we get it done. I have the most progressive bail bill here; Senator Gianaris has it in the Senate. And I think it’s difficult to get to compromise when you have my better bill that the advocates and people like me want.”
Insiders say the template for negotiations is not the O’Donnnell-Gianaris bill but another one that includes fewer crimes where cash bail would be eliminated.
It’s unclear when a final compromise will be reached.
“I want to make sure the right bill gets done for the people. Rushing to something for the sake of rushing will not get the intended result. And I want to make sure we get the right product” said Bailey.
Advocates said the District Attorney’s Association of the state of New York has been working behind the scenes to kill the bail reform bill. A spokesperson for the organization said that is not the case, but they do have specific concerns about eliminating cash bail.