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New York State budget approved with revised bail reform among changes

Gov. Kathy Hochul signs bail reform bill that held up state budget
Gov. Kathy Hochul signs bail reform bill that held up state budget 02:16

NEW YORK -- Gov. Kathy Hochul took a victory lap Wednesday, signing the bail reform bill that held up the state budget for about a month.

CBS2 political reporter Marcia Kramer says, however, opponents are considering a lawsuit to try to strike it down.

For Hochul, it was the "gangs' all here" moment as she corralled Mayor Eric Adams and a coterie of liberal district attorneys, like Brooklyn's Eric Gonzalez and Melinda Katz of Queens, as she signed a new bail reform law that will give judges more discretion to set bail.

"I believe that judges should have the authority to set bail and detain dangerous defendants, full stop," Hochul said.

Hochul, Adams discuss public safety and budget 24:05

The new law, which held up the budget for a month, eliminates the clause that forced judges to consider the so-called "least restrictive" bail option. Now, they can choose options they believe are "necessary to reasonably assure" a defendant's return to court.

Bail was also a key issue in the governor's reelection campaign. Republican Lee Zeldin blamed her for laws that allowed a number of dangerous defendants to remain on the street.

Adams also pressured her to do something about repeat offenders, the recidivists.

Breaking down impact of New York's latest bail reform changes 04:57

"That is a real issue. Small number of New Yorkers who are extremely violent, and there was a lack of clarity on how the judges can use their powers to ensure that they do not repeatedly harm innocent people in this city," Adams said.

But one of the key opponents of the new law, Brooklyn Assemblywoman Latrice Walker, says she hasn't given up and is considering a suit to challenge its constitutionality.

"A number of criminal justice advocates and attorneys are definitely looking at this issue, and I will just say stay tuned," Walker said. "The Eighth Amendment of the Constitution protects excessive bail. I'm saying that the 14th Amendment provides equal protection under the law."

The budget that was passed by the legislature also includes a measure to crack down on illegal marijuana shops selling untaxed weed. Fines start at $7,500, with additional fines of up to $100,000 depending on the amount of weed for sale. There's also a $10,000 fine for landlords who rent to unlicensed shops.

There are approximately 1,700 unlicensed weed shops in New York City.

Also among the changes will be a ban on gas stoves and furnaces in new construction.   

Some things will cost more, like a tuition hike for out-of-state students at city and state universities, plus a $1 increase in the cigarette tax. 

The state's minimum wage will get a boost. It's going up by a few dollars, gradually, over the next few years. 

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