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ALBANY � The Assembly Judiciary Committee has taken the first step toward closing a gap in child protection matters that officials say allows some abuse and neglect cases to slip through the cracks. Chairwoman Helene E. Weinstein, D-Brooklyn, advanced at the request of the Judiciary a bill that would include in the statewide domestic violence registry all orders of protection and all related warrants in child protection matters. “As a result of these omissions, both law enforcement and courts are seriously hampered in their inquiries as to the existence of outstanding orders,” the Judiciary said in requesting the legislation. “Significantly, the requirement that the courts, when issuing protective orders, inquire as to the existence of these orders of protection with respect to the parties applies in family offense, but not child protective proceedings.” Ms. Weinstein’s bill, A7492A, would require Family Court, when issuing orders of protection, to inquire about other orders of protection. “This measure would recognize that domestic violence often is inextricably linked with child abuse and that victims of domestic violence in child abuse and neglect cases require as much protection as those in other types of proceedings,” the Judiciary said. Ms. Weinstein introduced the bill at the request of Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman’s Family Court Advisory and Rules Committee. In the past, the Senate has been receptive � an indication that the bill may have a chance to pass this year. In other actions this week, the Assembly Judiciary Committee: � Approved a bill, A10330, that would amend the Civil Practice Law and Rules to make clear that an attorney in a personal injury or wrongful death action may refer to a specific dollar amount in closing but not opening statements. Assemblyman Daniel J. O’Donnell, D-Manhattan, said the measure is necessary to clarify an amendment enacted last year. That amendment denied plaintiffs the opportunity to claim specific money damages in their complaints. It was not clear from that measure, Mr. O’Donnell said, that attorneys may still specify a dollar amount in their closing statements. � Advanced, at the request of the Town of Islip, a bill that would allow service of summons anywhere in the state. The sponsor, Assemblyman Philip R. Ramos, D-Suffolk County, said current law allows district courts to issue a summons only in the county where they are located or an adjoining county. Mr. Ramos said that has created a problem on Long Island because of an increase in the number of substandard apartments owned by absentee landlords. “In order to obtain jurisdiction over these defendants, the Town of Islip or any other town experiencing this problem needs to move the case to Supreme Court or else jurisdiction cannot be obtained over the absentee landlord,” Mr. Ramos said in his justification note for A9440. � Moved a bill, A3204, that would require sellers of real property to disclose the existence of any uncapped natural gas wells. Assemblyman William L. Parment, D-Jamestown, is sponsoring the bill, which died in committee last year. He said the measure would simply require sellers to convey information they already have regarding uncapped wells on their property. It is unfair to keep the buyer in the dark since the cost of capping the well “could cost the new property owner thousands of dollars in unforeseen costs,” Mr. Parment said. � Again passed a measure that would increase the amount of exemptions debtors could claim in bankruptcy and permit them to choose between the state and federal exemptions. Ms. Weinstein has been attempting for years to update exemption levels and her bills have passed the Assembly three times. However, the Senate has not taken action in the past and is unlikely to take action this year. A4775A would, among other things, raise the homestead exemption to $50,000 from $10,000.

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