ALBANY — The effort to legalize sports gambling in New York was dealt a setback Thursday after Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said he doesn’t believe that the significant concerns held by his Democrats can be resolved in the last week of session.
“Members raised significant issues, so I would say at this point there isn’t enough support within the Democratic conference to want to go forward on sports gambling,” Heastie said after a lengthy closed-door conference. “I don’t want to never say never in this life, but I don’t know if a week is enough time . . . with the broad spectrum of concerns that members have raised, I don’t know if that can be resolved in a week.”
Leaders of the Senate’s Republican majority will continue to discuss the sports gambling bill this weekend and try to resolve concerns by the Assembly’s Democratic majority, said Scott Reif, spokesman for the Senate majority.
Meanwhile, the Senate and Assembly appeared poised to reach agreement on a bill that would create a commission to hear complaints about abuses by prosecutors following the Senate’s bipartisan approval on Thursday.
“Prosecutors have substantial discretion over how to prosecute cases,” said the bill’s sponsor, Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse). “This commission would serve as an impartial forum for reviewing allegations made against prosecutors to determine whether they acted properly in certain criminal cases.”
“We want prosecutors to make decisions based on evidence and the law, not what could get them dragged in front of a . . . politically created tribunal,” said Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach), a former federal prosecutor.
“The fact that the Senate has taken this up I think brings a little more seriousness to where we are,” Heastie said. “I do believe the members were pretty favorable to wanting us to do this.”
The Assembly could take up the bill before the session is scheduled to end on Wednesday.
Two other traffic safety measures that would affect New Yorkers statewide also took a major step forward. Heastie combined two bills — one to provide speed cameras on New York City streets near schools and another sought by upstate school districts to put cameras in school buses.
The Senate’s Republican majority has wanted the school bus cameras, while the Assembly, dominated by New York City Democrats, sought the speed cameras for the five boroughs.
“These are things we’d like to see, without any add-ons of other issues,” Heastie said.
He referred to the Senate’s push to put school resource officers, who are often police, outside every school in New York City. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn), a Democrat who sits with the Republicans to preserve a 31-31 deadlock in the chamber.
Assembly Democrats have opposed putting police officers in schools, which some say would create fortresses that would hamper learning.
Another major issue still undone in the final days of the session is a proposal to separate students’ scores on standardized tests in teacher evaluations.
“That’s up to the Senate. We passed it,” Heastie said. “We’re not looking to trade on any of these other things.” He said the Senate’s Republican majority wants to increase the number of privately operated charter schools — strongly opposed by teachers unions — as part of a deal to allow greater latitude over state academic mandates for certain Jewish schools.
Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) didn’t immediately comment on the status of closed-door talks.