By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
As they were listening to Governor Andrew Cuomo deliver his State of the State Address in Albany on Wednesday, two Brooklyn Republicans were startled when they heard something familiar in the speech.
A proposal Cuomo made in his speech for a crackdown on drunk drivers made state Sen. Marty Golden and Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis smile in their seats. The governor’s “three strikes, you’re out” idea is the same proposal the two lawmakers put forth two years ago, Malliotakis said.
Under the governor’s proposal, a motorist would be stripped of his or her driver’s license forever on a third DWI offense.
Back in 2012, both Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southern Brooklyn) and Malliotakis introduced bills in their respective legislative houses calling for a “three strikes, you’re out” law enforcement strategy.
On Wednesday, Cuomo issued a similar call, telling state senators and assembly members that in New York State, 47,000 drivers who have three or more drunken driving convictions are still on the roadways.
“Think about that as you drive home tonight. It’s absurd. Let’s change the law: anyone convicted of drunk driving two times in three years should lose their license for five years, and three strikes and you’re out and you are off the road, period,” he said.
“To say the least, this is very exciting news for the senator and I,” Malliotakis (R-C-Bay Ridge-Staten Island) wrote in an email to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle shortly after Cuomo’s speech.
With the governor’s muscle behind it, a “three strikes” bill would stand a better chance of passage, political observers said.
Coincidentally, the “three strikes, you’re out” bill was the first piece of legislation Malliotakis introduced when she first became a member of the state assembly in 2010.
She and Golden pushed hard for the bill’s passage only to be disappointed when it failed to win approval. In 2012, the two elected officials tried again, mounting an all-out effort to win passage, charging that the legislation was necessary because drunken driving accidents kill 350 New Yorkers every year.
“And all too often, we hear of families destroyed by drunk drivers. This must be the year that the Empire State stands up against hit and runs and drunk driving,” Golden said at the time.
“Anyone that would get behind the wheel and gamble with the lives of others on the road deserves to be punished to the full extent of the law,” Malliotakis said.
Drunk driving wasn’t the only issue in which Republicans Golden and Malliotakis found themselves in agreement with the Democratic governor.
In his address, Cuomo also called for a state funded business assistance program that is already in place to help women and minorities to be extended to disabled veterans.
That’s also a bill that Golden and Malliotakis had introduced, according to the assemblywoman.
The proposed legislation would provide disabled veterans in New York, with the same benefits awarded through the Division of Minority and Women’s Business Development program. The program operates under the jurisdiction of Empire State Development, the state’s economic arm.
“This legislation will link disabled servicemen and women to all of the financial and operational resources available to benefit their ventures in business and improve the state’s economy while honoring our obligation to veterans,” Malliotakis said shortly after the bill was introduced.
The purpose of the program is to promote equality of economic opportunities for minority and women-owned business, specifically by eliminating barriers to their participation in state contracts.