Paterson's signs crime, energy, RFK memorial bills

August 8, 2008 5:29:58 PM PDT
Plying children with alcohol or drugs to have sex and luring a child into committing a violent crime are New York's newest felonies. Gov. David Paterson said Friday he also signed a law renaming New York City's Triborough Bridge after Robert F. Kennedy, who represented New York in the U.S. Senate and was assassinated while campaigning for president in 1968.

The Triborough Bridge, opened in 1936, is a complex of three bridges, a viaduct and 14 miles of approach roads. It connects Manhattan, the Bronx and Queens.

Paterson also signed 23 other measures into law that effect life and business in New York.

And he vetoed a bill this week that would have ended the ban on state troopers plea bargaining traffic tickets in local courts. Until 2006, troopers could discuss with drivers reducing tickets to lesser infractions. Critics say the state ban forced some municipalities to designate lawyers to handle traffic cases and made it harder for drivers to settle cases.

The legislation would have allowed troopers to appear in court when authorized by district attorneys. In his veto message, Paterson says it would make troopers vulnerable to unfounded allegations of favoritism and cost the state $5 million.

Among the bills signed into law and released Friday were:

- Creating a Class B felony for using drugs or alcohol to get a child to perform a sex act. The crime will carry a sentence of 8 1/2 to 25 years in prison. Paterson, however, has already urged amendments to the Legislature's bill. He said that as it stands now, a conviction requires that a child didn't consent to take the drugs or alcohol and that the drugs or alcohol have to be illegal. Paterson wants those loopholes closed. He also wants to add that anyone convicted of the crime must register as a sex offender.

- Making a felony of luring a children under 17 years old to commit a violent crime, a felony sex offense, sex trafficking, promoting obscene material or incest.

- Establishing a program to help provide loans to farmers to build safe housing for farm workers, migrant and permanent. The law will provide advances to local administrators to free up money to cover the work on dairy and other farms.

- Authorization for businesses that use their own wind power systems to send electricity back to the power grid for sale or credit against their utility bills. A related bill puts a high limit on the amount of amount of energy that can be generated from farm waste and sent back to the power grid. The process is called "net metering," and environmental groups argue that businesses with substantial roof areas - such as large retail stores - could generate enough solar or wind power to eliminate its power costs.

- A plan to authorize more "cuisine trails," including as many as 10 "apple trails" and 10 trails that could include several different foods and wines. The idea is to boost tourism and agriculture products.

- A measure that would allow the state to tell the FBI if a New Yorker trying to buy a gun has been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility. The legislation is a reaction to the Virginia Tech tragedy last year, when a mentally ill student shot 32 people dead, then killed himself.

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