- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 16, 2015

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - State lawmakers reached agreements Tuesday on a new sexual assault policy for private universities and allowing dogs on restaurant patios as they continued to struggle to strike a deal on the renewal of New York City’s expired rent regulations.

The rent regulations lapsed at midnight Monday after lawmakers failed to agree on an extension before the deadline. Most lawmakers say they expect the regulations will ultimately be extended, though the Assembly and Senate remain far apart on changes they’d like to make to the long-standing rent protections.

As negotiations continued behind closed doors, lawmakers churned through bills Tuesday with the hope of adjourning the 2015 session later this week.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and top lawmakers announced an agreement on the Democratic governor’s proposal to impose a new campus sexual assault policy at private colleges and universities.

The policy, which awaits a formal vote in the Legislature, includes a “yes means yes” definition of sexual consent requiring a clear, affirmative agreement between partners. It also creates a victim’s bill of rights and boosts training for law enforcement, students and administrators.

The policy was implemented at public colleges last year. Expanding it to cover private universities was a top priority for Cuomo.

“As the governor, and as a father, I am proud that with this legislation New York will become a national leader in the fight against sexual assault on college campuses,” he said in a statement announcing the deal with Senate Leader John Flanagan and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

A bill allowing dogs to join their human companions in outdoor dining areas headed to Cuomo’s desk after it passed the Assembly. The bill, which passed the Senate last month, would allow leashed canines to be on restaurant patios if the restaurant allows it. California, Maryland and Florida already have similar laws.

“It’s a dog-eat-dog world for New York restaurants, and this bill will help to give those that opt in a leg up against the competition,” said the bill’s Assembly sponsor, Democrat Linda Rosenthal of Manhattan. “Given all the bad news coming out of Albany these days, it’s nice to pass something that actually puts a smile on New Yorker’s faces.”

Heastie and Flanagan met with Cuomo privately to discuss the showdown over rent. Heastie, D-Bronx, emerged from the meeting to tell reporters that it remains the top priority of the Assembly’s Democratic majority.

“It’s rent, rent, rent and more rent,” he said, adding that he remains optimistic about an agreement. “Albany sometimes performs miracles; 24 hours is sometimes a lifetime. We’re going to keep trying.”

The Assembly passed a bill last month that would renew the rules for four years and make it harder for vacant rent-stabilized apartments to become deregulated.

The Republican-led Senate, however, supports its own bill, which would extend the law for eight years and subject rent-regulated tenants to income verification checks.

“We passed a bill last night that we think is a very good bill,” said Flanagan, R-Long Island.

The rules restrict rent increases for more than 2 million tenants living in 1 million apartments in and around New York City.

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