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Silver: Deal on criminal DNA database plan

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) in his office

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) in his office in the Capitol in Albany. (Jan. 24, 2012) Credit: Ted Phillips

Lawmakers have a deal on a new law to expand the state’s criminal DNA database, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) said Wednesday.

Silver didn’t provide details but said the law would include “provisions to be able to prove innocence” -- a key demand of the Democrat-led Assembly. Silver made the remarks on his way to a closed-door meeting to brief his fellow Democrats.

Currently under state law, convictions for all felonies and some misdemeanors trigger a requirement to submit a DNA sample to the state’s database. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) have been pushing to expand the law to cover any misdemeanor conviction.

Silver and Democrats say they favor the expansion but have held out for provisions that enable defense attorneys greater access to DNA evidence.

The agreement comes amid a flurry of activity on major issues at the Capitol. The Senate and Assembly are slated to vote on new election district maps to comply with changes in the U.S. Census.

Cuomo is also pushing lawmakers to make deals on a constitutional amendment to allow Las Vegas-style casinos in the state and to reduce pension benefits for future government hires.

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