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Buffalo poised to get its long-sought traffic adjudication bill

By Tom Precious

ALBANY – It’s been years of making a pitch, but Buffalo tonight has moved a major step forward in its bid to take over the state's work of adjudicating traffic violations that occur within city limits.

A measure to let the city run its own traffic adjudication system, approved by the state Senate Wednesday, sailed through the Assembly tonight without any debate.

The state has been unwilling for years to give up the adjudication responsibilities – and the money it brings.

But an amendment to the long-stalled bill called for the city to take over the work – and keep the money – so long as the move does not cost the state any lost funds in its current fiscal year that ends next March 31.

For motorists, there could be an extra benefit: plea bargaining. The legislation notes that the state handles traffic violations for the city without plea bargaining opportunities.

The new bill, which still needs approval from Gov. Andrew Cuomo to become law, changes that legal maneuvering with the switch-over to a city-controlled traffic adjudication system. The bill will not take effect until the city’s 2014-15 fiscal year, and it is already counting on $3.2 million from adjudicating its own tickets.

The bill's sponsors, Buffalo's Sen. Mark Grisanti, a Republican, and Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, a Democrat, argued in a bill memo that the current system preventing plea bargaining is unfair because that option is afforded motorists getting tickets in all other cities, towns and villages in Western New York.

They say violators could be given the option of attending a traffic safety course and, as a result, not receive any additional points on their license. In turn, that could help keep insurance rates down, they argue.

The bill dates back to at least 2007, according to a legislative memo, and has been requested year after year by Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.

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About Politics Now

Robert J. McCarthy

Robert J. McCarthy

A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.

rmccarthy@buffnews.com


Tom Precious

Tom Precious

Tom Precious joined The Buffalo News in 1997 as bureau chief at the state Capitol, where he covers everything from statewide politics and state government fiscal affairs to health care, environmental and municipal government matters. Prior to The News, he worked for news outlets in Albany and Washington, DC.

tprecious@buffnews.com


Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri is an Amherst native and has covered politics and government in upstate New York since 2003. She joined The Buffalo News in 2012 and covers City Hall.

@jillterreri | jterreri@buffnews.com


Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.

@JerryZremski | jzremski@buffnews.com

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