NYS lawmakers putting finishing touches on session

Alcohol in movie theaters among issues on table

June 18, 2017 - 8:02 am
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ALBANY, N.Y. (WBEN/AP) — In New York state government news, time is running out on state lawmakers as they seek resolution on a long list of issues topped by control of New York City schools.

The annual session in Albany is scheduled to end Wednesday.

A look at the top remaining issues:

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MAYORAL CONTROL

The law giving Mayor Bill de Blasio control of his city's schools expires at the end of the month unless lawmakers vote to extend it.

A renewal is expected. Last year, lawmakers extended the policy, first instituted in 2002, for only a single year. De Blasio and other Democrats prefer a longer extension but Republicans are skeptical and have demanded more information about how the city spends its education dollars.

The Assembly has backed a two-year extension. The GOP-led Senate has endorsed several different extensions — one, two and five years — each linked to Republican proposals benefiting charter schools.

Negotiations over a possible compromise are expected to continue into the session's final hours.

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CHILD VICTIMS ACT

Survivors of child molestation are hoping this is the year lawmakers vote to loosen the statute of limitations on lawsuits for past abuse.

The proposal before the Legislature would permit molestation victims to file civil lawsuits until they turn 50 and allow criminal charges until the victim turns 28. In addition, the law would create a one-year window for past victims to file civil suits.

Victims now have until they turn 23 to sue, but supporters say it can take years before victims feel comfortable stepping forward to report their abuse.

Versions of the measure have languished for years under pressure from the Roman Catholic Church and other institutions.

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DRUG CRIMES

Lawmakers included more than $200 million in the state budget this year to fight heroin and opioid addiction. Now they have a plan to crack down on drug dealing.

One bill would create a new crime of homicide for dealers who sell heroin or opioids responsible for fatal overdoses. Another would create special drug-free zones around rehabilitation facilities, creating greater penalties for dealers who try to exploit recovering addicts.

Others would make technical changes to make it easier to prosecute heroin dealers.

The measures passed the Senate last week and now await action in the Assembly.

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MERLOT AND A MOVIE

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pushing to permit movie theaters to sell alcoholic beverages, a change that he says will help theaters attract more visitors and give a boost to the state's burgeoning craft beverage industry.

If a theater wants to serve alcohol under current law, they must operate a full kitchen or obtain a tavern license allowing them to serve alcohol in the lobby only.

Under the proposal before lawmakers, theaters could apply for a special license to serve alcohol. No sales would be permitted for films rated G or PG.

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ETHICS, VOTING

Cuomo also vowed to reform the state's antiquated voting rules this year but there's been little to no movement on bills to authorize early voting or make it easier to register.

Proposals to crack down on Albany corruption are also stagnating and appear unlikely to pass.

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