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State Budget

Sen. John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, speaks with reporters about the state budget at the state Capitol, Thursday, March 29, 2018, in Albany, N.Y. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)

A bill to establish the state Commission on Prosecutorial Conduct has been sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his review, and state Sen. John DeFrancisco hopes it will become law. 

DeFrancisco, R-DeWitt, sponsored the legislation to create the panel, which would review complaints of prosecutorial misconduct in New York. According to the bill's text, the purpose of the commission would be "to enforce the obligation of prosecutors to observe acceptable standards of conduct, and to establish reasonable accountability for the conduct of prosecutors during the performance of their functions, powers and duties as prosecutors." 

The legislation received bipartisan support in the state Legislature, but is opposed by the District Attorneys Association of the State of New York. The organization believes the bill is unconstitutional and would duplicate existing committees tasked with reviewing prosecutors' conduct. 

In a statement, DeFrancisco urged Cuomo to sign the bill. 

"Prosecutors have substantial power, and defendants who go through the criminal justice system and have been wronged by a prosecutor must have an independent body to review the alleged conduct," DeFrancisco said in a statement. 

The panel would be modeled after the state Commission on Judicial Conduct, which was first established in 1974. Constitutional amendments in 1976 and 1978 made the 11-member commission permanent. 

The proposal to establish a commission on prosecutorial conduct received bipartisan support in the state Legislature. The bill passed by a 98-46 vote in the state Assembly and a 45-12 vote in the state Senate. 

The legislation was sent to Cuomo Wednesday, according to DeFrancisco. The governor has until Aug. 20 to either sign or veto the measure. 

Cuomo's office said the bill remains under review. 

"While the governor has signaled that he may have issues with this legislation that overwhelmingly passed both houses, I am willing to work with his office to make reasonable changes that won't defeat the intent and purpose of the legislation, in order to ensure that it becomes law," DeFrancisco said.  

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