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Under the bill, anyone who harasses or injures a first responder, including a police officer, could be fined as much as $50,000 and first responders could sue the person directly.
Republicans in New York’s Nassau County are “discussing next steps” in considering overriding a veto of a bill that would have allowed first responders to sue protesters.
The Nassau County Legislature on Long Island earlier this month approved the bill, which says that anyone who harasses or injures a first responder, including a police officer, can be fined as much as $50,000 and that first responders can sue the person directly.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran vetoed the bill last week, noting concern the bill would “intimidate free citizens from engaging in peaceful demonstrations without fear of retaliation.”
“There is no consensus among elected officials and the public that this current legislation is necessary, carefully crafted and without negative consequences,” Curran wrote in a memo announcing her veto.
Curran said she sought guidance on the legal soundness of the law from New York Attorney General Letitia James, who said it “presents constitutional questions and possible conflicts with state law.”
“Those flaws are serious enough to guarantee multiple court challenges to its validity,” Curran quoted James as saying. “Whether the law would survive such challenges is by no means clear, but the County would bear the full brunt of the cost of defending the law.”
Chris Boyle, a spokesperson for the Nassau Legislature’s Republican majority, said majority legislators are “currently discussing next steps” for dealing with Curran’s veto.
“The Legislative Majority stands firmly behind Law enforcement, and will continue to do everything they can to deter violence against them,” Boyle said in a statement to Fintech Zoom.
“It’s unfortunate that the County Executive has vetoed this bill that would help to deter the assault, menacing and harassment of police officers and other first responders,” Boyle said.
The Legislature’s next full meeting is scheduled for September 27, when the veto will be presented and Republicans could announce their override; from there, the Legislature would have 30 days to decide whether it wants to override the bill.
Fintech Zoom’s Sahar Akbarzai contributed to this report.