Raia, Assembly Minority Continue Fight For Long Islanders’ Safety

Speaker succumbs to Assembly minority pressure and calls conference committee to negotiate differences
January 10, 2006

Assemblyman Andrew Raia (R,C,I,WF-East Northport) and his Assembly minority colleagues today expressed their dissatisfaction with Speaker Sheldon Silver and the Assembly majority over their initiative to extend a provision in Megan’s Law for a mere 14 months.

“This is an issue of critical importance that doesn’t warrant a halfway measure,” Raia said. “Why should we wait for the federal government to act when we can resolve this issue in New York today?

Raia noted Silver and the Assembly majority proposed a temporary, 14-month extender to a provision of Megan’s Law that is to expire on January 21. As a result, hundreds of convicted sex offenders would drop from the state Sex Offender Registry over the next few months unless action is taken by the state Legislature to correct the problem. The Assembly majority’s proposal is considered an extender aimed to provide enough time for the federal government to act on similar legislation nationwide.

“This is such an important issue that we must take the lead and not wait for someone else to provide a meaningful solution,” Raia added. “We simply can’t afford to sit back and wait while we count down the 13 days before crucial provisions of Megan’s Law expire.”

Raia and his minority Assembly colleagues introduced an amendment today that calls for lifetime registration of sex offenders. They also called on Silver to participate in a conference committee that would allow both sides to hammer out a timely agreement.

“We proposed an amendment and called for negotiations to take place at a conference committee,” said Raia. “Unfortunately, the clock is ticking, and we will have to wait and see if the speaker is willing to move forward with the bipartisan spirit this issue demands.”

Raia added that the commitment by the Speaker to participate in a conference committee is a victory for the Assembly minority conference. The Speaker announced that if his proposal isn’t supported in the Senate then he will call for convening a conference committee to negotiate.

“We have certainly made our presence felt in recent months and we remain committed to strengthening Megan’s Law,” said Raia.

Raia noted the centerpiece of an Assembly minority conference five-point plan is a civil confinement policy, an issue minority members have advanced since 1993. They also propose longer prison sentences for violent sexual predators and a mandate that all criminals give DNA samples to assist in future official investigations. It also calls for an end to the statute of limitations on sex crimes when DNA testing identifies the perpetrators.

“My minority colleagues in the Assembly have set forth a comprehensive five-point plan that would provide real solutions, not halfway measures, that seem to favor politics over the safety and security of our most vulnerable citizens,” Raia concluded. “The families of Long Island deserve strongest laws possible when it comes to combating sex offenders in our communities.”