Bail reform tweaks expected in new NY budget as talks continue

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Wednesday, April 6, 2022
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ALBANY, New York (WABC) -- New York state lawmakers are expected to expand the ability to set cash bail in a tweak to bail reform as part of a state budget that will add billions in spending to Governor Kathy Hochul's $216 billion proposal.

Hochul met with Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie Tuesday night, and an agreement could be announced in the coming days.

The budget was due on Friday, and lawmakers approved stopgap legislation Monday to help keep state government running.

RELATED | Families of fallen officers, gun violence victims protest bail reform in NYC

One major sticking point has been changes to the 2019 bail law that largely ended cash bail requirements for most non violent crimes.

Criminal justice advocates mobilized to keep the law, intended to keep low-income defendants out of jail for lengthy periods of time while awaiting trial. But disturbing increases in violent crime have galvanized support among politicians and the public for the tweaks.

State Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris said more gun arrests will be bail eligible.

"We're going to be handling gun charges differently," he said. "In some instances, it's dealing with what constitutes gun trafficking, and in others, it's whether a particular charge is eligible for bail or not. But there'll be a series of changes."

Hate crimes would also become eligible for processing in criminal court, stricter than the current desk appearance tickets being issued.

Other changes are expected in evidentiary discovery procedures, as well as additional funding for local prosecutors to make evidence processed and available on a faster basis to defendants.

Other initiatives expected in the budget include:

--Allowing restaurants to provide "to go" alcoholic beverages with takeout orders, reviving one of the pandemic's silver linings that aided struggling bars and restaurants.

Mayor Eric Adams issued another statement Tuesday reiterating his support.

"Our economy cannot recover if people do not want to experience our culture and our city, and innovating ideas like to-go cocktails will deliver critical support for restaurants, workers and all New Yorkers and visitors," he said. "The future of the city depends on the long-term stability of our local restaurants, and we will continue to partner with the state to do what is possible to bring our city back."

--Some type of relief for gas prices, either a suspension of the tax through the end of the year or a rebate check for consumers.

--Up to three casinos in New York City. Adams has said he is hoping for at least two, though the city would not have power over the locations.

--Insurance to low income undocumented New Yorkers.

--More spending for home care workers, childcare, distressed hospitals, SUNY and CUNY students.

--Revamp of the the state's ethics agency, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE).

--The proposed stadium for the Buffalo Bills, expected to cost taxpayers a combined $850 million in state and local funding.

RELATED | NY Gov. Hochul pushes for bail reform, faces opposition from progressive Democrats

When completed, the budget is expected to add an additional $4 billion in spending to Hochul's initial $216 billion proposal.

The stopgap budget extender funds the state government through Thursday, and legislators are hoping to have a budget vote by then.

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