An influential state lawmaker Wednesday signaled openness to a legislative push strengthening state criminal laws against individuals who are repeat offenders in violent child abuse cases.
"I believe we can do it, but I have to hear from the legal experts before I can give you a definite opinion," Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, a Brooklyn Democrat and longtime chairman of the Assembly Codes Committee, said of a bill, which was prompted by a Western New York case.
The measure, which passed the State Senate Wednesday, has been pushed following the 2011 assault against Jay J. Bolvin, a North Tonawanda boy, now 2 years old, who has lasting injuries from the incident. The boy's father, Jeremy Bolvin, had previously been convicted of abuse involving another of his sons; he received a 1 1/3 - to 4-year sentence in the 2011 assault.
The measure, known as Jay J.'s Law, would, among its features, increase penalties for adults convicted of a second child assault charge within a 10-year period from the current maximum sentence of four years to seven years.
"I think there's a possibility of us passing it, but the end of session is coming close," Lentol said. The 2012 session concludes next week.
"I'm optimistic the Assembly is going to do the right thing," said State Sen. Timothy Kennedy, a Buffalo Democrat and sponsor of the bill in the State Senate.
The 2012 session, which Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has told lawmakers he wants to end by 5 p.m. next Thursday, in time for a barbecue at the governor's mansion, is coming to an end with a whimper.
Still unresolved is how to make upcoming evaluations of public school teachers available to parents.
The New York State United Teachers union, upset about publication of teacher evaluations earlier this year, is pressing hard to shield the evaluations from the broader public and media.
"The shaming and humiliation of teachers that occurs from tabloid media publishing of inaccurate teacher-rating scores in February underscores the need for this legislation," said NYSUT spokesman Carl Korn.
In other matters Wednesday, the Assembly:
*Closed on a deal to crack down on bullying via text messaging, social networking and other forms of electronic communication.
*Struck a deal to restore a tax break for craft beer brewers.
*Approved final passage of a bill banning shop owners from providing body piercings on teens under age 18 without parental consent.