HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — There has been stalemate in Albany over a law to make our roads safer.
For 10 years, a Long Island mother has been pushing to make it a felony to drive with repeated license suspensions. On Thursday, as top Democrats gathered for their state convention, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff demanded answers.
Dawn Nappi wants to know why her family’s push for a crackdown on unlicensed drivers has been blocked in the Assembly for a decade.
“To be able to drive with 10 suspensions, as it currently stands now, with no repercussions, is ridiculous,” Nappi said.
Nappi’s 14-year-old daughter, Angelica, was killed by a driver with seven license suspensions. He served just months on a misdemeanor. “Angelica’s Law” would make it a felony to drive with five suspensions.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) has the power to advance the legislation. Gusoff asked why, with unanimous passage in the Senate, it has stalled in the Assembly.
“I don’t have anything personal against it, but if I recall on that bill there are some concerns,” Heastie said. “Because things pass in Senate doesn’t mean that’s the correct way to go.”
What concerns? There was no explanation from Democratic Assemblyman David Gantt of Rochester, who calls the shots on the Transportation Committee. Gantt, however, has been chronically absent, present on just four of 47 days this session due to illness. He has refused to explain his opposition, even to Angelica’s mother.
Also frustrated is the Republican who sponsored the bill. He has been trying every maneuver to get it debated.
“For one person to have that power over an important bill that could save lives …. it’s wrong. We need to fix this system,” Assemblyman Dean Murray of Sayville said.
Gusoff went to Albany just days before Mother’s Day to see if a mother’s wish would come true, but instead there was just more frustration and inaction.
“Is this the Albany way? Unfortunately, it is very frustrating,” Nappi said.
Gusoff pressed others at the convention why the bill hasn’t moved.
“Those suspensions have to be driver related. It can’t be because he missed jury duty or failed to pay his taxes or had a slew of traffic tickets,” Assemblyman Joseph Lentol (D-Brooklyn) said.
Lentol said he’s working on a different version.
When asked when the legislation might be voted on, Lentol said, “It is coming out of Mr. Gantt’s committee before we end the session.”
Gusoff then reminded Lentol that Gantt has missed the vast majority of sessions.
“Well, we will get the bill out nevertheless,” Lentol said.
But Nappi said she’s heard that story before.
“I’m going to continue this fight,” Nappi said.
Nappi says she’ll believe it when she sees it. Any way the bill passes is fine by her.
Assemblyman Gantt has again not responded to requests for comment. The 76-year-old is running for re-election.