ALBANY—At the weekly open leaders meeting called by David Paterson, Minority Leader Dean Skelos spent over 15 minutes raging about a proposal that would make it easier to seal the records of some drug offenders, but David Paterson held firm.
“Just so you’re aware, Senator, I can only speak for myself: I signed the bill, I read the bill, and I’m aware of the section of the bill,” Paterson said. “There was no unintended consequence on my part.”
He said that the idea was to allow people fighting drug addictions to get back into the work force in places where a drug offense would be a hindrance. Paterson pointed out that no violent offenders are eligible to have their records sealed.
Republicans object to the provision because it would permit drug offenders to get jobs they previously wouldn’t have been able to get because of background checks, like in schools.
Paterson said that there are already treatment programs where drug offenders have their records sealed upon successful graduation.
“There was no mistake, I knew what the legislation was, I signed it,” Paterson said. Later, he noted this “was an issue that was debated during the process.”
Skelos and members of his conference are pushing for a bill that would repeal the sealing provision.
State Senator Eric Schneiderman has said that because of logisitics, he is hoping to delay the implementation of that provision.