Advocates and lawmakers are making an end-of-session push for the passage of a bill that would make it easier for the survivors of childhood sexual abuse to file lawsuits.
"We know that this bill has momentum. We have to see it through to completion," said Sen. Tim Kennedy (D - Buffalo).
The bill known as the Child Victims Act was approved previously in the Democratic-controlled Assembly. But Senate Republicans in recent days have produced their own bill, known as the Child Victims Fund.
"It is a solution that we need to advance," said Sen. Cathy Young (R - Olean). "The Child Victims Act only helps a fraction of child victims of sexual abuse. The Child Victims Fund actually helps every victim, and that's what we need to do."
The Republican measure would create a $300 million special victims compensation fund fueled by forfeiture money collected by the district attorney's office in Manhattan.
"Many of the perpetrators do not have money, and they couldn't compensate the victims even if the Child Victims Act passed," Young said. "That's why it's so important to have this fund so we could make everyone whole."
But supporters of the Child Victims Act say that misses the point, arguing that some survivors want to hold powerful institutions that have protected preadtors accountable in a court of law.
"People here are not concerned about money. They are concerned about justice," said Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D - Manhattan). "Justice in a court of law where they can name their abuser and receive the justice they have been prevented from obtaining all these years."
Nevertheless, it's unclear if anything can be approved in the narrowly divided state Senate, where each conference currently has 31 members in Albany due to the absence of Republican Senator Tom Croci. It takes 32 votes to pass any legislation, meaning any bill would have to have bipartisan support.
"I don't know what the appetite for that is, but we're going to continue to push forward with our issues and as well as the things that are important in our local communities," said Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D). "We'll see what happens in the next eight days."
The session is scheduled to end June 20.