Friday, June 20, 2014

[UPDATED] Medical pot, schools project, judges, and sparklers mark end of Legislature session

Posted By on Fri, Jun 20, 2014 at 11:12 AM

Soon, it could be legal to sell and use sparklers in New York, but not to light up medical marijuana.

As the State Assembly and Senate wound down its session last night (and this morning), they acted on a slew of bills dealing with big statewide issues and matters that were specific to single communities. So in the spirit of the glorious mess that is New York's wait-until-the-last-minute legislative session, here are some highlights:
  • Sparklers could once again be legal in New York, as long as Governor Andrew Cuomo signs the bill passed by the Senate and Assembly. The state currently treats them the same as illegal fireworks.
  • Cuomo and Legislature leaders hashed out a deal on medical marijuana which, as the Gothamist website so eloquently put it, doesn't include marijuana. Instead, it'll allow five state-selected organizations to grow a limited number of  pot plants, but not for patients to smoke. Most likely, the state will allow the distribution of pot extracts and oils, which can be eaten or consumed as inhaled vapor. As of this afternoon, the Senate and Assembly had passed the legislation, so the bill will now head to the governor.
  • The Senate and Assembly passed bills that would add Family Court judges. Under the legislation, New York City would get nine new judges in 2015; Albany, Broome, Chautauqua, Franklin, Nassau, Oneida, Oswego, Schenectady, Suffolk, Ulster, and Westchester counties would each get one new judge in 2015; and Delaware, Dutchess, Erie, Monroe, and Warren counties would each receive one additional judge in 2016.
  • The Assembly and Senate also passed legislation to fund the second phase of a large Rochester City School District construction project. The legislation for the $1.2 billion Facilities Modernization Project was not supported by all members of the local delegation, however. Democratic Assembly member David Gantt voted against the measure, saying he was concerned about an ongoing FBI investigation into the project's first phase. Republican Assembly member Bill Nojay voted against the bill for the same reason.
  • Both houses of the Legislature passed legislation allowing the state to sell property at the Industry Residential Center in Rush to Monroe County. The county is using the property for its new juvenile detention center.
  • The Assembly passed legislation to allow Monroe County to tack a surcharge onto wireless phone bills. County officials say the fee will help pay for the county's 911 and emergency communications systems. The Senate hasn't passed the measure yet, and it's unclear whether it plans to vote on it during this morning's session.
  • The fate of the Child Safe Products Act is still up in the air. The Assembly has passed the bill, but it's unclear if it will get a vote in the Senate. The bill has much support, except from lobbyists who've worked hard to kill it.
This post was updated at 2:30 p.m.

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