ALBANY-- State Senator Craig M. Johnson put his message of change into motion with votes to protect families from dangerous sexual predators, revamp the state's broken Workers' Compensation system and dampen the influence of special interests on New York's political process.
Johnson said the three bills, which he campaigned on during the run-up to his Feb. 6 special election to the State Senate, signaled a positive change in state government "where common sense and cooperation is replacing the stagnation and gridlock that has come to epitomize Albany."
"For years lawmakers on both sides of the aisle said something needed to be done about these three issues, but time and time again the process was derailed by politics and petty disputes," Johnson, (D-Port Washington), said. "Much work still needs to be done, but make no mistake about it: This is a new era, where doing what is politically expedient will no longer trump what is best for all New Yorkers."
Johnson last week voted for a strong civil commitment law that aims to keep the most dangerous sex offenders off the streets and in secure facilities, where they would receive the treatment that they need.
The law will not only keep communities safer, but will also relieve some of the strain on
local governments and law enforcement agencies that have been on the front lines of tracking and monitoring sex offenders within their borders.
"A job this large should not just be on the shoulders of our local police departments and our taxpayers," Johnson said. "This civil commitment law will make sure that the worst of the worst will not be given the opportunity to strike again. It is what we need in New York to protect our children and our families."
Johnson also voted for a comprehensive Workers' Compensation reform bill that increases benefits for injured workers for the first time in more than a decade and cuts employer costs by hundreds of millions of dollars.
The savings were primarily made by bringing New York into line with other states that capped the number of years that benefits can be paid out to people with partial disabilities. That group is a small part of the system, but represents a large percentage of overall payouts.
Johnson and his Senate colleges also passed a comprehensive ethics proposal that prohibits all gifts, except those of a nominal value, to lawmakers, strengthens lobbying laws, and closes the "revolving door" that allows former legislative staffers to immediately lobby their old co-workers.
All three measures have received the support of the majorities in both houses of the state Legislature and the governor.