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Simcha Felder

Thank Simcha Felder and Senate Republicans for Obstructing Life-Saving Speed Cameras

The State Senate bill to expand New York City’s speed camera program did not pass in part because of opposition from Brooklyn rep Simcha Felder, according to a Senate source familiar with the negotiations.

The Assembly passed its version of the bill, which would have doubled the number of NYC school zones where speed cameras are allowed by Albany and extended the program until 2022.

In the Senate, 31 representatives -- one short of a majority -- backed the companion bill, the source said. Felder’s support would have been enough to send the legislation to Governor Cuomo’s desk, but he refused, ostensibly because the de Blasio administration would not consent to Felder’s demand to station armed cops at every school in the city.

Felder has an unusual amount of influence because he caucuses with Senate Republicans despite running as a Democrat, and so, along with the Independent Democratic Conference, is the key to GOP control of the chamber. Felder has used this leverage to treat street safety measures as a bargaining chip before. Along with NYC's senior Senate Republican, Marty Golden, Felder dangled support for speed cameras in return for passing unrelated legislation in 2013, when Albany first authorized automated speed enforcement. (Both Felder and Golden ultimately voted to allow cameras.)

Felder was also the sole Senate Democrat to vote against the most recent expansion of the speed camera program, approved in 2014. Though he did support lowering the city's default speed limit to 25 mph, Felder campaigned this year to increase motorist speeds on deadly Ocean Parkway.

The Senate did not hold a vote on speed cameras, either in the regular session or the special session convened to settle mayoral control of city schools. No Senate Republicans were listed as bill sponsors when the regular session adjourned. By declining to call a vote, Majority Leader John Flanagan, a Republican who represents Suffolk County, allowed senators to kill the bill without going on the record. A message with Flanagan's office about the speed camera bill was not returned.

Speed cameras were one of several street safety initiatives state lawmakers failed to advance in 2017.

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