An expansion of law that requires people in a mental health crisis receive treatment remains one of the final stumbling blocks for lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul as they seek to forge a final state budget agreement.
But the measure known as Kendra's Law remains controversial for some Democrats in the Legislature as well as advocates for mental health treatment.
The effort to expand and extend the law was part of a broader package of proposals by Gov. Kathy Hochul to combat concerns over rising violent crime in New York — heightened after the death of a woman, Michelle Go, when she was pushed in front of a subway train.
Advocates, including Harvey Rosenthal of the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services, have opposed the law being extended to include provisions for court-ordered treatment.
"We again urge rejection of this provision of Kendra’s Law amendments under consideration that would permit a restoration of a court treatment order for standards that are far below the initial intent and language of the bill, which largely referred to some form of harm or dangerousness," the group said in a statement.
Some lawmakers, including Democratic state Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, are worried the expansion of the law will have unintended consequences for vulnerable people.
"The concern that we've raised is that the mechanism that the governor has proposed might actually make things worse rather than better, will not help the people who are being confined and will not actually reduce the crime problem," Abinanti said.
Abinanti is worried people on the autism spectrum could be mistaken for someone facing a mental health crisis and be swept up in the process.
"We don't want people with autism to be mistaken for someone with a mental illness, thrown into a system and get lose," he said. "It's very difficult to get someone out of a mental institution and with our courts back logged, it's very easy for people to just get lost."