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OPINION: Coming Together to Protect Vulnerable New Yorkers

By Will Barclay

Date:

One of the most important jobs we have as lawmakers is protecting the interests of those in danger. This is something nearly all legislators can agree on regardless of their political background or what region they represent. We must protect those who need it most. 

Recently, the Assembly minority conference has advocated alongside our majority colleagues for two important measures to keep New Yorkers safe. Bill A.2231, also known as Jacobe’s Law, and bill A.6026, also known as Melanie’s Law, are both born of tragedy, and for that reason they are all the more important to pass into law. 

Jacobe’s Law is carried by Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh (R,C–Ballston) and co-sponsored by legislators on both sides of the political aisle. It would require school administrators to contact the parents or guardians of students who are bullied or harassed and was written after 13-year-old Jacobe Taras tragically took his life as a result of being bullied.

Additionally, Melanie’s Law extends orders of protection to all immediate family members of a crime victim regardless of that family member’s age. This bill honors Melanie Chianese, a young woman killed by her mother’s ex-boyfriend. Per statute, the order of protection shielding Melanie’s mother and Melanie’s infant son did not include Melanie as she was deemed ineligible due to her age, 29, at the time she was killed. Assemblyman Anil Beephan Jr. (R,C–East Fishkill) has worked hard to gain traction for this legislation and has co-sponsored it alongside our majority colleagues.

In both instances, these bipartisan bills work to accomplish the same goal: protect the vulnerable. With measures in place to keep parents informed about what goes on while they are not in the direct care of their children and to ensure those exposed to dangerous individuals because of where they live, or who they are related to, are afforded proper protection, we can better identify those who need help and seek ways to insulate them from danger.

 I am proud of the work our Assembly minority conference has put into advocating for these bills and the New Yorkers they will ultimately save. These measures represent the best of what we do as lawmakers, which is to come together to guard those who need it most. Together, we can make New York a safer place for all those who live and visit here, and that is, ultimately, the most important thing we can do to serve those who elected us to office.      


William (Will) A. Barclay, 54, Republican, is the New York Assembly minority leader and represents the 120th New York Assembly District, which encompasses all of Oswego County, as well as parts of Jefferson and Cayuga counties.