ALBANY – Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo was in a veto state-of-mind Wednesday evening, killing almost half of a batch of 68 bills passed by lawmakers last spring but sent to him just 10 days ago.
In all, he vetoed 33 measures and signed 35.
With 11 bills still to be sent to him this year, Cuomo has vetoed 82 measures that passed both houses this year, compared to 61 in 2012 and 63 in 2011.
Vetoes included a measure to permit volunteer fire and ambulance departments to get automatic leaves of absence during a period when a state of emergency has been declared; Cuomo said the measure, sponsored by Sen. Mark Grisanti, a Buffalo Republican, included no standards that would let public and private employers turn down leaves for essential personnel.
Cuomo also rejected a measure requiring the state to adopt guidelines for screening pregnant and new mothers for maternal depression problems. The veto drew a surprised reaction from Sen. Liz Krueger, the bill’s sponsor, who said Cuomo “misunderstood’’ her bill because it still, despite Cuomo’s veto language, leaves medical decisions up to health care practitioners.
Cuomo said a number of the now-dead proposals cost money and should be addressed during state budget talks, including a measure lawmakers said would have improved training for municipal dog control officers and another to promote getting New York farm products to senior citizens.
Other vetoes included providing a disability benefit to sheriffs, deputy sheriffs and correction officers if they become physically or mentally incapacitated as a result of the actions by a civilian at a local jail or other county institution.
Cuomo also vetoed a measure, sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Patrick Gallivan, an Elma Republican, that would give certain members of the New York State Police and Fire Retirement Fund the option of joining into a non-contributory retirement plan, which the legislation said would increase affected public employers by 4.4 percent in 2014; Cuomo’s veto message, in part, called it an unfunded mandate on localities.
Among bills approved was a measure to have the state declare that community gardens offer “social, economic, health (and) education benefits’’ that are to be encouraged by state agencies, including the Agriculture Department. The state Health Department, under a bill he also signed, will have to post on its website all public food service establishment inspection reports for the most recent three-year period while another will require the state to devise a curriculum to teach students in grades 4 through 12 about adolescent gambling problems; schools would not be required to offer the course instruction.
Also, a measure sponsored by Sen. George Maziarz, a Newfane Republican, and Assemblyman Sean Ryan, a Buffalo Democrat, directs the New York Power Authority to audit entities that received low-cost power allocations or money from a pool associated with the Niagara Power Project. Localities, state agencies, Indian tribes, school districts and entities for the development of the Niagara River Greenway have gotten $203 million in benefits from the power authority since the power project was relicensed in 2007, according to a legislative memo, not including low-cost power provided to various energy users.
Maziarz, in a statement, said the audit will be able to look at the use of funding by various groups – the only one he specifically cited was the Niagara Greenway Commission – to ensure funding and low-cost power is being used properly.