Governor Andrew Cuomo plans to include safety reforms for stretch limousines, like the one involved in October's deadly crash in Schoharie, in the 2019 budget, his office announced Tuesday.
Hours ahead of the governor's State of the State and budget addresses in Albany, the proposed reforms were released. They include:
- Banning registration and prohibiting use of "remanufactured limousines" in the state;
- Giving the state DOT and DMV the authority to seize license plates of suspended vehicles, and raising the penalties for tampering with inspection stickers;
- Removing the seat belt exemption for limousines, taxis, school buses and other similar vehicles.
Modified stretch limousine safety came to the forefront in New York following the October crash at the intersection of Routes 30 and 30A in Schoharie that killed 20 people — the driver, 17 passengers and two pedestrians.
"We are advancing reforms that will give aggressive new powers that will allow authorities to take dangerous vehicles off the roads without delay, hold unscrupulous businesses accountable and increase public safety in every corner of New York," Gov. Cuomo said in a statement.
The most severe reform would be banning the use of some stretch limos on the road. Capital Region companies, including Today's Limousine, say they're worried the ban could include cars in their fleets that are safely maintained.
"You always have your good and your bad. To penalize our company, and companies that do it right, to put that on us is really unfair," says company President, Michael Rosenthal.
There's also a new $120 proposed limo inspection fee. Rosenthal says that money can be used toward a task force. The group could help identify the companies who fly under the radar, like Prestige Limousine, the company involved in the Schoharie crash.
"I wish they would just take those millions of dollars and really just enforce the laws that have been there since the 90s," said Rosenthal.
These proposals come as as the NTSB remains in an ongoing battle with the Schoharie County district attorney. The two entites have been fighting over access to the key piece of evidence.