Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed bills on Friday that will allow for stricter laws regulating pet dealers and create a state license for behavior analysts that specialize in autism disorders.
The bills were among the final pieces of legislation from 2013 that Cuomo had yet to sign or veto.
The new autism law will establish a new state licensing program for providers who specialize in behavior services for those who fall on within the autism spectrum. A behavior analyst would have to hold a master’s degree to qualify for a license, while a separate state certificate for behavior analyst assistants would be available to those with a four-year degree.
Cuomo’s approval makes New York the ninth state to establish a licensing program for behavior analysts.
“By creating this new professional licensure, we have taken a major step in ensuring that the thousands of children in New York who have been diagnosed with autism can receive the therapies they deserve,” Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle, D-Irondequoit, Monroe County, said in a statement. Morelle was the lead Assembly sponsor of the bill.
The pet dealer law will allow local governments to pass laws regulating the pet industry within their borders, with the idea of cracking down on unlicensed “puppy mills” that have gone undetected by the state. Previously, municipalities weren’t permitted to pass laws governing the pet industry, with the state having sole regulatory power.
“The puppy mill industry wanted to keep the state law unchanged because it allowed maximum profit and minimum accountability,” said Matt Bershadker, president and CEO of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “But with this law, we’ll be able to keep a closer eye on these operations, stop inhumane practices, and undoubtedly save many lives.”
Cuomo was also expected to approve a bill Friday that will allow young sex-trafficking victims charged with prostitution crimes to be treated in Family Court, which would allow them to be assigned services rather than face jail time. The bill applies to 16- and 17-year-olds, bringing them in line with those aged 15 and younger.
At least two bills were expected to be vetoed by Cuomo late Friday, including one that would abolish the international Peace Bridge Authority, a joint panel of Canadians and New Yorkers that oversees the bridge spanning Buffalo and Fort Erie, Ontario. The bill was passed by the Legislature when the two factions were sparring over future Peace Bridge construction, but a later agreement called for the legislation to be vetoed.
Another bill that would have extended a retroactive tax break to the Talmud Torah Ohr Yochanan congregation in Ramapo, Rockland County, was likely to be rejected by Cuomo. The sponsors of the bill — Sen. David Carlucci, D-Clarkstown, and Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee, D-Suffern — backed off of their support for the legislation after it was revealed the congregation had illegally converted a single-family home into a school.