By Jon Campbell, Albany Bureau
ALBANY Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed 43 bills into law late last week, including a measure restricting the custody rights of a person who conceives a child through sexual assault.
Under the bill approved late Friday by Cuomo, judges would be required to presume that putting a child in the custody of the attacker is not in the best interest.
Previously, the law had only specifically rejected custody to attackers who conceived a child and were convicted of forcible first degree rape. The new law expands it to include a number of different crimes, including second-degree rape and predatory sexual assault, among others.
"Very often, sex offenders will threaten their victims with filing a visitation or custody petition in order to discourage them from pressing charges," said Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, D-Scarsdale, Westchester County, who sponsored the bill. "These women have suffered enough."
Among the other bills approved by Cuomo were measures allowing roadside markets to sell wine from farm wineries and measures to extend or reconfigure a number of wine trails. That includes the Niagara Wine Trail, which will be extended east along Route 104 from Niagara Falls through Orleans County until it intersects with I-390 in Monroe County.
The Shawangunk East Wine Trail in Orange and Ulster counties would also be extended to include more of the town of Gardiner.
The wine bill would allow products from up to two nearby farm wineries to be sold at roadside markets. The wineries must be located within 20 miles of the farm stand.
"By authorizing licensed farm stands to sell local wine and expanding the Shawangunk East Wine Trail, we are creating more opportunities for New York State to promote its wine industry," said Sen. William Larkin, R-New Windsor, Orange County.
A bill that would have created a commission to raise the pay of the state's 8,000 management employees met a different fate. Cuomo vetoed that bill, instead asking that such a change be negotiated as part of the state's budget process.
It was one of 24 bills Cuomo vetoed.
"The overall salary structure for employees and public officers warrants a review and analysis to make it more fair for all State workers," Cuomo wrote in his veto message. "This should be done within the context of the State budget."
Cuomo's veto was knocked by the Organization of NYS Management Confidential Employees, which represents the management employees who saw their planned 7 percent raise withheld by then-Gov. David Paterson's administration in 2009 and 2010.
In a statement, the group said Cuomo's veto signals the state's managers "don't matter to him."
"This continuing under-compensation of the (management/confidential workforce) is bad public policy, bad management and counterproductive to maintaining a competent, qualified, dedicated workforce who provide the programs and services needed by the state's residents," the group said in a statement.
Another bill vetoed by Cuomo would have required all state agencies to accept cards, money orders and checks from residents paying the state for taxes, rent or any other fees. Cuomo said the bill would have had unintended consequences, particularly when it comes to checks that bounce.
Among others approved by Cuomo was a ban on the sale of lighters that look like guns or children's toys. The new law, which was pushed for by the state Firefighter's Association, makes New York at least the 16th state to ban such novelty lighters.