Assemblyman says ‘Extremely slim’ chances of bill passing that would detain people over public health threat

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 January 2021 at 8:24 pm

Norris: Little chance legislation would even be brought to floor for a vote

State Assemblyman Michael Norris, R-Lockport, said his office has received hundreds of phone calls and emails from constituents concerned about legislation in the Assembly, calling for people to be detained who are potentially dangerous to public health.

Norris said the chances of the legislation passing are “extremely slim.” There is one Assembly sponsor and no matching bill in the State Senate, Norris wrote on his Assembly Facebook page.

His staff member, Alex Quinn, relayed Norris’s comments this evening in a conference call with elected officials in Orleans County.

Norris is “adamantly opposed” to the bill – A.416 – introduced by Nick Perry, D-Brooklyn. The issue has been highlighted in recent days by many Republican state legislators, including Assemblyman Steve Hawley, R-Batavia.

“This bill is unconstitutional on its face and disregards all basic concepts of due process that make us free in this country,” Hawley said in a news release on Monday. “Protecting the health of our neighbors is a noble goal to be certain, but this bill forfeits our constitutional liberty in a way we can never allow.”

Norris said there are thousands of bills introduced in the State Legislature every year, and this bill has very little chance of being passed or even being brought to the floor for a vote.

“I am happy that so many people are engaged and making their voices heard,” Norris wrote on Facebook. “As your representative, I am proud to oppose this bill!”

The Poynter Institute’s Politifact researched the issue and found the legislation was first proposed in 2015 during the Ebola outbreak. It has not gained any traction in the Assembly and has never been heard in committee, Politifact stated, calling it “a dormant, years-old bill.”

Politifact said the legislation has been the subject of rapidly spreading conspiracy theories with some people claiming it’s a scheme by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to throw people into detainment camps.

The legislation was drafted during the Ebola outbreak in 2015, before a vaccine for that disease was approved, Politifact stated.