March 30, 2021
State lawmakers are poised to approve a bill legalizing cannabis products for those 21 and older, allow adults to keep a limited number of marijuana plants in their homes and reverse decades of criminal justice laws in the state. The vote is expected to go into the evening in both the state Senate and Assembly. We’ll let you you know if the vote hits any last minute snags.
In the meantime, it appears that while negotiations regarding budget spending proposals are moving closer to a conclusion, there is a noticeable lack of movement on the revenue side of the picture. Assembly and Senate leaders are both pushing back on the executive regarding how much the state might make in new revenue from increased taxes on high earners. Both houses of the Legislature have supported $7 billion in new taxes, while Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said that only about $2.5 billion is needed thanks to recent federal aid.
Overall, it appears many issues have fallen off the budget table meaning that, unless something changes, it promises to be a very busy April – June for lawmakers and advocates. It seems like the Assembly has decided to take many issues out of the budget negotiations process and re-schedule them for after April 1. This may include issues of significance to our members including the elements of the telehealth proposal, the licensing law and scope of practice issues we are eager to address, and the potential creation of a new Office combining OASAS and OMH.
Since the early 2000’s some lawmakers have felt that they have more power during the second half of the legislative session, after the budget has passed. This is because of a 2004 Court of Appeals case regarding the division of budget powers between the executive and legislative branches. It’s complicated but if you would like more information here’s a link to the original court case: http://www.courts.state.ny.us/Reporter/3dseries/2004/2004_09320.htm
Other issues we are still pushing include reinvestment of the $22 million in funds associated with the ‘realignment’ of psychiatric beds, the 1% Human Services COLA, and the plan for Opioid Settlement Funds. All appear to still be in the balance.