Paterson signs laws on Internet dating safety act, bedbug notices but vetoes War of 1812 panel

By Michael Gormley, AP
Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Online dating, bedbugs addressed in new laws in NY

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York’s newest laws are meant to make Internet dating safer, further protect victims and witnesses in domestic abuse cases, and require landlords in New York City to come clean about bedbugs when leasing apartments.

Among 26 vetoes, Gov. David Paterson again sank a proposal to create a commission that would promote commemorations of the often forgotten, but critical, War of 1812 against Great Britain on its 200th anniversary.

In a legislative session in which the state budget was adopted four months late during a historic fiscal crisis and politics often trumped policy, the Internet dating safety act would require that companies warn customers of the dangers of meeting strangers.

The tips include always letting someone else know if you are going to meet someone new, always providing your own transportation and making sure to meet in a public place.

The law states those looking for love online should be advised to “never include your last name, e-mail address, home address, phone number, place of work and any other identifying information in your Internet profile or initial e-mail messages.”

A flurry of such measures were proposed in the past four years, the National Conference of State Legislatures said, though New Jersey may be the only other state to have enacted such a law. New York’s law seems to have borrowed, almost word for word, from the 2008 New Jersey law. That law also requires a company to disclose whether a criminal background check was done.

In vetoing yet another bill on the War of 1812 commission, Paterson rejected a proposal he had criticized in previous versions as too expensive, redundant and a task that advocates and existing historic preservation and tourism agencies could handle.

After his 2009 veto of the bill, sponsors worked with the governor’s office to revise it and were told it met the office’s specifications, said Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, a Westchester Democrat and a sponsor of the bill.

He called the veto “mystifying and hurtful to taxpayers statewide, and especially upstate New Yorkers, who would have benefited economically from the increase in tourism this bill would provide.”

Plattsburgh, Sackets Harbor on Lake Ontario and the Buffalo-Niagara region were among sites upstate that saw heavy fighting during the War of 1812, which pitted the United States against the British Empire, including Canada. The war began in June 1812 and lasted almost three years.

Paterson also signed several bills into law:

— New York City’s bedbug infestation would be attacked in two ways. One law requires New York City schools to inform families of any bedbug infestations found in school. Another law requires landlords and subletters to provide a history of bedbug infestation for the previous year of a property before leasing the apartment or building.

— Family Court judges will be able to issue orders of protection for witnesses, not just victims, to help protect those involved in domestic abuse cases. Another law protects victims of domestic abuse who flee their homes. The law states a victim who flees a rent-regulated apartment in New York City can’t be evicted.

— Employers will be required to give same-sex couples the same funeral leave benefit for a death in the family as other couples.

— Under the Smart Growth Public Infrastructure Policy Act, state agencies must create committees to evaluate infrastructure needs to most efficiently plan for projects.

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