A bill that would seal many criminal records for those who have completed their sentences cleared a key hurdle in the state Senate as supporters hope the long-stalled measure can gain final passage in the coming weeks.
But the measure faces an uncertain fate in the Legislature after lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul did not include it in the $220 billion budget earlier this year.
"I'm hopeful we're going to get this across the finish line," said state Sen. Zellnor Myrie, the bill's sponsor in the state Senate. "We came close last year, we came very close in last year's budget."
Lawmakers in the Senate Codes Committee on Monday approved the bill ahead of a potential floor vote in the chamber. Lawmakers are set to end the legislative session for the year on June 2.
The bill has gained the backing of labor unions and corporations like JP Morgan and Verizon, with supporters pointing to the hindrances criminal records can present for people who have convictions on their record when it comes to obtaining a job or housing.
"This is a public safety bill," Myrie said. "If you have been in a community that experiences this type of violence, I grew up in that community, you know that the best fight against crime is opportunity."
But opponents contend the measure could lead to a further uptick in crime.
“This legislation goes too far by sealing over 2-million criminal records in New York," said Republican state Sen. Patrick Gallivan. "It will make it impossible for schools, nursing homes and other businesses and organizations that serve vulnerable populations to obtain accurate background information on potential employees and volunteers. The bill is misguided and has the potential to threaten the safety of law-abiding citizens."