Assemblyman Will Barclay (R,C,I—Pulaski) said today a bill that would prohibit fleeing felons from obtaining public assistance has been stonewalled in the Assembly Majority- controlled house.
“This legislation would ensure a ‘checks and balance’ between criminal records and those receiving public assistance. Essentially, without this legislation, we’re inviting criminals from other states to come and live in New York State; we won’t even bother checking to see if you are a wanted felon,” said Barclay.
The bill—A8882—which had significant support from the local community—went before the Governmental Operations Committee agenda in the Assembly this week. This was the first movement since January when it was sent to the committee. The Governmental Operations Committee ruled that it would hold this legislation, preventing other committees in the Assembly to review it for consideration or advance it to the floor for a vote.
Barclay introduced this legislation last November, after it was discovered that a man, Edward Moses, was wanted for attempted murder, kidnapping and possession of a weapon who was fleeing the law in South Carolina and receiving New York State benefits.
Barclay’s legislation has the support of the New York State Welfare Fraud Investigators Association. Background checks were part of the protocol for all benefit recipients prior to 2007 when the Office of Temporary Disability Assistance changed its policy following a federal court case that ruled in favor of a defendant who was denied benefits due to a criminal background. The court ruled that the defendant had no knowledge of criminal charges against him. Barclay said this one case and the specific circumstances surrounding it should not reverse a reasonable safeguard—a safeguard designed to keep communities safe from wanted felons and prevent welfare fraud. His legislation would reinstitute a check coordinated between the Department of Criminal Justice Services and the Office of Temporary Disability Assistance—a check that fraud investigators estimate took roughly seven hours a month to perform.
“While the Senate has moved this bill forward, the Assembly continues to play partisan politics at the risk of community safety and taxpayer dollars,” said Barclay.