Statement By Attorney General Eliot Spitzer Regarding Pending Legislation

"With just one week left in the legislative session, it is essential that the Governor, Senate and Assembly reach agreement on the major issues in need of statutory reform.

Many of these bills have been among my top priorities as Attorney General for many years, and we need action on them this session.

First, we need a real Medicaid reform bill - including the Martin Act for Health Care and the False Claims Act - which will allow us to take further steps against those engaged in Medicaid fraud.

Second, we need to expand the DNA database to cover additional crimes, with appropriate provisions to protect the privacy of that information from misuse.

We also need to extend both the civil and criminal statutes of limitations in rape cases. This will allow us to use DNA evidence to prosecute those who have committed these crimes but so far have escaped punishment, and also ensure that rape victims can seek compensation for the harm that was done to them.

Another important issue that needs to be addressed is the problem of sexual predators. For over six years I have been pushing for legislation allowing the civil commitment of such individuals, and we should not let another year pass without action.

In addition, we need legislation to punish those who engage in human trafficking. This is a particularly heinous crime that primarily targets women and immigrants, including those forced into prostitution. This is a growing crime, and we need strong provisions allowing us to address it.

We also need to strengthen our laws against price gouging. My office uncovered numerous instances of gas price gouging last year in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and we are now entering a new hurricane season. Our laws need to be enhanced so that we can take action against those who seek to profit from these emergency situations.

Finally, much more still needs to be done in the area of government reform. In particular, we need stronger ethics, lobbying, campaign finance, and public authority reform laws.

The Millstein Commission recently made a series of important public authority reform recommendations, many of which I support, and the Legislature should take action on these recommendations this year.

On virtually all of the issues outlined above, the Governor, Senate and Assembly all agree that statutory changes are necessary. Unfortunately, as too often happens in Albany, the three sides have slightly different approaches, and so no agreement has been reached.

We cannot let the usual Albany gridlock prevent progress in these important areas. Instead, all three sides should be meeting round the clock to resolve their differences and try to reach a consensus.

Nonetheless, the bills listed above are still under discussion, and are extremely important. It is critical that the Governor and Legislature reach agreement on these issues, and thereby show that they can produce real reform where needed."

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