NY Daily News Daily Politics Blog: Why The Nix On Nixzmary Bill?

Thomas K. Duane

September 12, 2009

By Elizabeth Benjamin

September 12, 2009

Thursday was another late night at the Capitol for the Senate Democrats, but perhaps it wasn’t too late for a little payback, the DN's Glenn Blain reports.

Sen. Tom Duane, a Manhattan Democrat, cast the only negative vote against the so-called "Nixzmary Brown bill", which authorizes life sentences without parole for people who kill children in a “cruel and wanton manner.”

The bill is named for a Brooklyn girl who was beaten to death in 2007 by her stepdad.

The bill was championed by Bronx Sen. Ruben Diaz, who is the Democratic conference's most outspoken opponent to a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage - a position that has wrecked havoc on various occasions in the closely-divided chamber.

The measure is a program bill introduced by Gov. David Paterson. It is being carried by Duane, the Senate's only openly-gay member.

In a telephone interview, Duane denied that his vote against the Nixzmary Brown bill was motivated by animosity toward Diaz.

He insisted that he simply believes existing law already provides sufficient punishment for people who abuse and murder children.

“No law is going to bring back Nixzmary,” Duane said. “And this law would not save the life of one more child and I am more concerned with what happens with children in our foster care system.”

Diaz Sr. would only say that we was “very disappointed” in Duane.

The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 58-1 during a session that stretched past 1 a.m. It was passed unanimously in the Assembly earlier this year.

There is precedent for payback voted in the Senate chamber this year.

After the 31-day stalemate broke in July, the senators took revenge on state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, who had frozen their paychecks at Paterson's request, by voting down a pension bill championed by the comptroller.