As the legislative session winds down, a number of issues remain unresolved. Our Nick Reisman has more with an overview of what's done and what's yet to come.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- Lawmakers have only seven session days left in Albany to pass bills and then return home to their districts to face re-election. Governor Andrew Cuomo said last week he would only consider keeping lawmakers through the June 21 end date should a deal on creating a new reporting system for the abuse and neglect of developmentally disabled known as the Justice Center, not be reached.
“Keeping them passed the deadline is an extraordinarily harsh tactic. So you don't do it just for a volitional reason. The Justice Center I think is a time-sensitive priority,” Cuomo said.
The Republican-led Senate passed that legislation, but Democrats in the Assembly are holding out for changes. Among their concerns, there's too much power placed in the executive and the whistleblower protections aren't strong enough.
“It's time to act. No more dialogue. You can only tweak so much. It's time to get down and protect these people,” Senator Roy McDonald said.
Meanwhile at the Capitol on Tuesday, Assembly lawmakers approved a measure that would decriminalize up to 25 grams of marijuana, an amount that Senate Republicans say is too large.
“The level that has been proposed in New York State is actually lower than many other states that have actually taken the step forward to reduce possession of small quantities of marijuana to a violation or a civil infraction,” said Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries.
Senate Republicans countered by pushing anti-crime legislation. GOP lawmakers needled the Assembly Democrats for bottling up a change to Leandra's Law that would ensure those convicted of drunk driving have ignition interlocks placed on their cars. Senate sponsor Charles Fuschillo hopes the measure isn't being held up in order to push for other concessions.
“I hope not. This really deals with an issue that is affecting individuals' lives and this bill should stand on its own,” Fuschillo said.
All 212 legislative seats, plus a newly drawn 63rd Senate seat are up for election this year. There's speculation that a proposed hike to the minimum wage could be sat on in order to maximize Democratic gains in both chambers.
“Anything is a good campaign issue that the people want and that is good for this state and raising the minimum wage certainly fits that description,” said Senator Michael Gianaris.