Laura Cummings Law Update

August 22, 2011 Updated Aug 22, 2011 at 8:24 PM EDT

By Ed Reilly

August 22, 2011 Updated Aug 22, 2011 at 8:24 PM EDT


(Buffalo, N.Y.) Members of the Western New York Legislative Delegation gathered Monday morning to provide key updates on their collaborative efforts to enact Laura Cummings Law, a bill named in honor of the young developmentally disabled Erie County woman who was murdered by her mother in January 2010 after years of abuse and mistreatment.

Introduced at the beginning of 2011, Laura Cummings Law (S.3306-B/A.8355) was initially comprised of three main components: allowing Child and Adult Protective Services to share information about prior abuse reports, empowering these agencies to get a court order to access a home, and creating criminal sanctions against individuals when they prevent or obstruct these agencies from interviewing alleged victims. The bill was unanimously approved in the Senate on May 24, 2011.

During the course of this year's Legislative Session, the first two components were later introduced as individual bills (S.5470/A.7622 and S.5471/A.5458-A, respectively), approved in both houses, and signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo on August 17, 2011. Now, the focus becomes enacting the third provision dealing with criminal sanctions. Specifically, this provision would create a Class A misdemeanor for denying or attempting to deny access to a potential victim with intent to conceal abuse.

Senator George Maziarz (R-C, Newfane) said, "We have made progress, but we are not at the finish line yet. We need to make it clear that that nothing should stand in the way of an investigation of abuse. Laura Cummings deserved much better. If there are other people out there like her in harm's way, this new law will give us more tools to help them and give them justice."