Counties in the News May 18, 2016

Wednesday's news from counties across the state.
Indigent Defense Services Poised for Expansion

On April 4, 2016 the NYS Office of Indigent Legal Services (OILS) issued new guidelines that will significantly expand eligibility for public provided defense attorneys in both criminal and family court. The new guidelines would double the take home income eligibility from 125% to 250% of the federal poverty level, or nearly $30,000 for individuals and $62,000 for defendants with a family of four. These guidelines stem from the state's settlement of the Hurrell v. Herring lawsuit settlement between the NYS ACLU and five counties and the State of New York.
County leaders are concerned that these changes will significantly increase the cost of this state mandated expense, and have asked (OILS) to:
1) Delay implementation until April 1, 2017 in order for this action to be in line with the State budget cycle;
2) Establish regional eligibility standards regarding poverty thresholds similar to minimum wage requirements—this is because the cost of living is vastly different throughout the state, as is the hourly wage of attorneys; and
3) Use the delayed implementation time to get a more accurate account of how this change will impact community payers and providers, and discuss this change in the context of greater reform efforts.
In the meantime, two separate pieces of legislation (S. 6341A, Defrancisco and A.6202C, Fahy) would provide for a phased in takeover of the costs of county indigent legal defense services. These bill will have to be negotiated in both houses and agreed upon before it can be sent to the Governor for his enactment.

Cuomo: Some, not all, ethics reforms may get done this year

Senate report lists 48 ways to combat heroin epidemic

NY expected to lift licensing restrictions for immigrants

Proposed Gun Storage Law Could Face Uphill Climb In Nassau Legislature

Million Air gets new lease (Video)

City may consider selling water plant share

Drug addiction fighters call for added tools to fight war

New jail review process begins

Cuomo: IG's report on Dannemora prison escape expected ‘shortly'

'Catalyst for economic growth'

Governor Cuomo Announces $1 Million in Funding to Connect More New Yorkers to Addiction Services

County Legislature Calls for NY State Government Ethics Reforms

Cornell design students weigh in on airfield

Legal age for buying tobacco jumps to 21 in Chautauqua County

Large temporary pay raise for acting Niagara DA

April updates from the Wayne County sheriff

School budgets pass by big margins