Albany, NY - Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor (R,C,I - East Fishkill) is calling on Senate Majority Leader Flanagan to send the Veterans Equality Act to Governor Cuomo's desk today to force the governor to sign it or allow the legislature the time to override a veto while still in session. The legislation passed The Assembly yesterday and passed the Senate earlier this month.
"Majority Leader Flanagan should move quickly to put the bill on Governor Cuomo's desk before the end of session so the legislature would have the opportunity to override a veto," said Lalor. "The governor has vetoed this bill before and was able to avoid an override vote because the bill was sent to his desk while the legislature was out of session. We shouldn't make that mistake again. The bill has nearly unanimous support in both houses. It benefits the veterans who served in the post-draft era of the all-volunteer military. It's an important bill and we need to act now to get it signed into law or override a veto."
The governor has vetoed the Veterans Equality Act twice in the past. Because each time the bill was sent to his desk while the legislature was out of session, there was no opportunity for a veto override without a special session. After his last veto of the bill the governor promised veterans that it would be included in this year's budget. But it never made it into the budget and Cuomo broke his promise. The Veterans Equality Act, was in the budget proposals from the Senate and the Assembly this year, though. The legislative chamber that first passed the bill, in this case the Senate, chooses when to send the bill to the governor's desk. If the bill is sent to his desk during the legislative session, the governor has ten days to sign or veto the bill or it automatically becomes law. If the governor does veto the bill, a two-thirds majority would be required to override the veto. The legislature would have to be in session to hold the override vote, that's why it's essential to send the bill to the governor now. The Veterans Equality Act enjoys near unanimous support in both the Senate and the Assembly and an override vote should easily pass. The legislative session ends on June 16th
Lalor added, "This bill would put all veterans on equal footing. Right now, Iraq veterans are eligible to buyback up to three years of pension service credit for their time in the military, but Afghanistan veterans arent eligible. That makes no sense. It makes no sense that Cold War veterans arent eligible. It needs to be fixed. This would even save taxpayers money as more expensive Tier 2 state employees would be replaced by less expensive Tier 6 employees or positions could be left vacant where a replacement is unnecessary. We shouldn't miss this opportunity to honor our veterans and save tax dollars. We need to move today so we can override a veto and finally get this passed into law. Governor Cuomo's past vetoes both happened around Veterans Day, in fact one veto was issued the day before Veterans Day. That was a slap in the face to veterans. Armed Forces Day is this Saturday and Memorial Day is later this month. This is the time to honor veterans by making the Veterans Equality Act the law."