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State lawmakers have left Albany for the year without taking up a bill that would extend the statute of limitations for child sex abuse victims.
Current law allows those victims to bring criminal charges against their alleged abuser until the age of 23. The Child Victims Act would extend the age to 28 and create a one-year revival period for past cases regardless of when they happened. Victims could also bring civil cases until age 50.
The bill passed in the State Assembly with the support of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, but was blocked by Republicans in the State Senate.
Comedian Samantha Bee took aim at the Senate on her weekly late-night talk show last week.
"I don't want you to think the New York Senate is anti-child," Bee said. "This session they passed legislation allowing minors to race snowmobiles, get their own hunting licenses, and not be employed gathering or picking rags, cigar stumps, or collecting bones."
Anyone who does not follow New York state politics closely may be surprised by the claim. Those inside what’s known as the ‘Albany bubble’ were most likely not.
But Bee is known for comedy. Some may have seen her claim as satirical.
Were those bills a joke, or was Bee talking about legislation that actually passed the Senate?
The Senate passed a bill in March that would allow people under the age of 18 to compete in organized snowmobile racing events without a safety certificate from the state.
Current law requires anyone under the age of 18 to take a state-approved safety course before they ride a snowmobile. Anyone under 14 has to also be supervised by an adult when riding. The regulations do not apply if the minor rides on land owned by their parent or guardian.
The bill would throw out those rules as long as the minor is participating in a snowmobile racing event.
The bill, sponsored by Republican Sen. Betty Little of the North Country, passed the 63-member Senate with 49 votes. The Assembly did not take up the bill.
Looser hunting restrictions
Another bill, passed by the Senate in June, would allow 12-year-olds to get a universal hunting license by lowering the age for some hunting activities.
You can start hunting when you are 12 in New York, but certain restrictions remain until the hunter is 14.
The bill would drop the age from 14 to 12 for someone to participate in muzzle-loading season, obtain muzzle-loading privileges, hunt with a crossbow, and hunt big game. The child would have to be supervised by a parent or youth mentor.
The sponsor, Republican Joseph Griffo, says in the bill’s memo it’s intended to give parents the opportunity to teach children about hunting at a younger age.
The bill passed the Senate with 53 votes. The Assembly did not take it up.
Begging for money
The third bill targets people who use children to panhandle on the street.
It’s already illegal for someone to use a child to beg for money but the crime is under the state’s arts and cultural affairs law instead of the penal law.
This bill, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Jeffrey Klein of the Bronx, would transfer the crime to the penal law and strengthen the penalty for repeat offenders.
The bill says someone cannot ask or allow a child under 16 to beg for money or receive payment for "picking rags, or collecting cigar stumps, or collecting bones."
That provision has actually been in state law since 1971. It’s part of a broader law that bans children from doing several things for money. Among the more interesting: children cannot be employed as tightrope walkers and cannot receive money for displaying a physical deformity.
The Klein bill to move the crime to the penal law passed the Senate in June with 55 votes. The bill was not taken up in the Assembly.
Comedian Samantha Bee said the New York State Senate "passed legislation allowing minors to race snowmobiles, get their own hunting licenses, and not be employed gathering or picking rags, cigar stumps, or collecting bones."
Each of the bills is real and passed the Senate this year. Her claim is True.
Senate Bill 136, sponsored by Sen. Betty Little
Senate Bill 3156, sponsored by Sen. Joseph Griffo
Senate Bill 2650, sponsored by Sen. Jeffrey Klein
Laws of New York, 1971, Chapter 1017, §10
Laws of New York, 1983, Chapter 876
Samantha Bee’s team did not respond to our inquiry
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