In nearly unanimous votes in the state Senate and Assembly last year, an expansion of New York's wrongful death statute was approved -- allowing people to bring lawsuits in order to claim not just financial damages due to a person's death, but also emotional anguish.
Gov. Hochul veoted the measure, raising concerns with the effect the move would have on insurance premiums. But Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins is hopeful an agreement can still be reached on what would be a revised version of the proposal.
"People understand why it's important. It had broad bipartisan support," she said this week. "People get it. So I think we can get to a good place."
State lawmakers want to try again with an expansion of New York's wrongful death statute. Hochul, however, may still be waiting with her veto pen after the legislators who sponsored the bill rejected her last-minute compromise to exempt medical malpractice claims.
The veto comes at a delicate time in Albany between Hochul and lawmakers. The state Senate Judiciary Committee rejected her nominee to lead the state Court of Appeals. The all-important state budget negotiations will be underway over the next two months.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie wants to avoid discussion of any potential veto override of a similar wrongful death bill if lawmakers decide to pass one.
"Vetoes overrides -- that's like a declaration of war," he said. "I'm in a collaborative spirit, so I don't want to talk about veto overrides and things like that."
Opposition to the expansion was fueled by insurance companies, physicians organizations and local government groups who warned it could raise what are already the highest insurance costs in the country. Tom Stebbins of the Lawsuit Reform Alliance says the bill needs to undergo major changes.
"We would hope that that Legislature would see the amount of opposition that's come out to this, some of the real data that's been shown in terms of the effect of this bill and think twice about trying to pass the same bill twice as it exists right now," Stebbins said.
But supporters, including Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group, maintain the wrongful death law as it currently stands puts lower income people at a disadvantage.
"Families that are generally speaking headed by women, or headed by individuals of color because the society is organized in such a way that generally spekaing those families make less," he said.