Thursday, July 24, 2014

New York passes new laws to crack down on domestic violence, lewdness against children

New York state lawmakers enacted a series of bills Wednesday (July 23) that strengthen existing laws and add new measures to protect people from electronic harassment, stalking, and public lewdness.

Under the new laws, Second-degree Aggravated Harassment will make it a crime to use harassing communications that "threaten to cause physical harm to a victim or the victim's property where a defendant knows or should know that the communication will cause the victim to fear such harm."

The harassment legislation is in response to a recent court decision, striking down a previous version of the law on First Amendment grounds.

The anti-stalking measure prohibits the tracking of a person with an electronic device where "likely to cause reasonable fear of material harm to the physical health, safety or property" of another person or their families.

Finally, the state enacted a new statute, creating the crime of Public Lewdness in the First Degree, a class A misdemeanor. It applies to persons aged 19 or older who intentionally expose themselves to children under the age of 16. It is punishable by up to one year in county jail.

Previously, Public Lewdness was only a class B misdemeanor, and provided no additional penalties when the act was committed against a child.

It is hoped that these new laws, focusing on threats and endangerment of others, will strengthen protections for vulnerable members of the population, while ensuring important rights to free and open expression.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

New York's Top Court strikes down cyberbullying law on free speech grounds

Legal Insurrection reports that "[t]he New York Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled that a local law intended to protect children from cyberbullying violated the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment because it was too broad."

Monday, June 30, 2014

New York's high court says towns and villages can ban fracking

In a long-awaited decision, the New York State Court of Appeals has upheld the right of towns and villages in the State to ban natural gas drilling, sometimes referred to as "fracking."

Environmental groups are hailing the decision. Others warn that the bans may hurt job growth.

The complete decision is here.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

U.S. Supreme Court bans warrantless cell phone searches

The Washington Times:
The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that police cannot go snooping through people’s cell phones without a warrant, in a unanimous decision that amounts to a major statement in favor of privacy rights.

Police agencies had argued that searching through the data on cell phones was no different than asking someone to turn out his pockets, but the justices rejected that, saying a cell phone is more fundamental.

The ruling amounts to a 21st century update to legal understanding of privacy rights....

Justices even said police cannot check a cellphone’s call log, saying even those contain more information that just phone numbers, and so perusing them is a violation of privacy that can only be justified with a warrant.

The complete decision can be found here.

Privacy advocates, including the American Civil Liberties Union, have called the court’s decision a “big win.”

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Kinney Drugs raises money for Ovid recovery fund

From the Ithaca Journal:
A fund-raising effort by Kinney Drugs has resulted in a $2,500 contribution to Ovid Federated Church’s recovery fund, which was established to help victims of the March fire that destroyed four buildings and left eight families homeless in Ovid.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Notice of public hearing: Wilmot Casino Project

Pursuant to the Upstate New York Gaming Act in the Fall of 2013 (“2013 Gaming Act”) of the State of New York, the Town Board of the Town of Ovid, New York, will hold a public hearing the Ovid Fire House, 2136 Brown St, Ovid, NY 14521 at 7:00 p.m. on the 11th day of June, 2014 or as soon thereafter as this matter may be heard, concerning the following:
Proposed Wilmot Casino and Resort, reported to be a $350 million project, featuring a destination resort casino, hotel, spa, as well as dining and entertainment with 1,200 construction jobs and 1,800 permanent jobs with a $50 million annual payroll, which is proposed to be located in the Town of Tyre, County of Seneca, State of New York (New York State Region 5).
More on the Upstate New York Gaming Act may be found here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Notice of Public Hearing, Proposed Local Law 2014-A, Town of Ovid

A public hearing will be held before the Town Board of the Town of Ovid, New York, at the Ovid Fire House, 2136 Brown St, Ovid, NY 14521 at 7:00 p.m. on the 11th day of June, 2014, concerning Proposed Local Law No. “A” of the year 2014: “Repealing Local Law No. 1, 2004 of the Town of Ovid,” which provides:

In 2004, the Town of Ovid enacted a Local Law No. 1 of the Year 2004, commonly referred to as the town’s “land use ordinance.” Rather than relate directly to the physical use of land, the utilization of land or the potential impact of a particular land use on neighboring properties, this local law provides for minimum lot sizes and setbacks for most properties within the town. It establishes a permitting process, to be overseen by the town clerk and it provides that the law will be enforced by an “enforcement officer” and “alternate enforcement officer,” each to be designated by the town board. The law also sets forth penalties for violations and an appeal process, with such appeals to be made to the town board and requiring a public hearing for each appeal.

A review of the history of this local law appears to suggest that practical and fiscal difficulties exist with the enforcement and administration of this local law.

Further, the Town of Ovid is concerned about uncertainties in the existing New York State tax cap law, including how expenditures mandated by law and expenditures and revenues controlled by the county and state interact with the tax cap, as well as increasing costs, such as unfunded mandates, over which the town’s control is limited. The Town is also concerned about Governor Cuomo’s proposal to implement a two-year freeze on property taxes in school districts and localities that stay within the two percent tax cap. The town board is accountable to prepare a responsible budget, which meets the Town’s obligations while minimizing the tax burden.

The town board is aware that the County of Seneca has adopted the following local laws which are in effect throughout the county and address various concerns related to building permits, land use and building safety:

Seneca County, Local Law No. 2 of the year 2006: “A local law providing for the administration and enforcement of the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code and the State Energy Conservation Construction Code in the County of Seneca,” (Amended By Local Law No. 1-2008 & Local Law No. 1-2010);

Seneca County, Local Law No. 3 of the year 2012: “A local law to provide safe, stable, housing for recipients of public assistance within Seneca County;” and

These Seneca County Local Laws provide for administration and enforcement by county officials, through the offices of Seneca County Code Enforcement and Division of Human Services.

Based upon the foregoing, in order to minimize the tax and regulatory burden on town residents, and in light of existing regulations at the county level, it is currently the opinion of the town board that the “land use ordinance” appears to be unnecessary at this time and unduly burdensome on the town’s finances and operations.

Therefore, the town board proposes to repeal this local law while the town board and the town planning board continue its general study and review of new land use laws.


Local Law No. 1, 2004 of the Town of Ovid, commonly referred to as its “land use ordinance” is hereby repealed in its entirety.


This Local Law shall take effect immediately upon its filing with the Secretary of State of the State of New York in accordance with the Municipal Home Rule Act of the State of New York.

The complete text of the proposed local law is available here.