- Associated Press - Sunday, June 5, 2016

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York state lawmakers are entering the final days of their 2016 session, with big votes possible on measures to combat heroin addiction, allow Uber to expand upstate and regulate daily fantasy sports.

Addressing corruption, which polls show remains a top priority for voters, is getting much less attention.

The Senate and the Assembly will return Monday to begin the final two weeks of their work for the year. With elections in the fall it’s expected that lawmakers will waste little time in finishing their work so they can begin their summer campaigns.

A look at the top issues that remain on the agenda before the scheduled June 16 adjournment:


There’s bipartisan agreement that lawmakers must pass a comprehensive plan to address the rise in heroin and opioid abuse, and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has identified it as a top priority.

“Heroin and prescription opioids are equal-opportunity killers that don’t discriminate based on race, class or gender,” Cuomo said recently. “The number of deaths statewide is staggering.”

In 2013, heroin and opioids together were involved in 1,589 deaths across New York.

The state budget passed earlier this year includes $166 million to combat the problem, and lawmakers and Cuomo are now debating the best way to spend the money.

Prevention, treatment and recovery programs are all expected to get a boost. Many proposals seek to expand the use of drugs used to reverse overdoses, as well as programs to help addicts access workforce training, housing and other social supports needed to stay clean. One proposal that’s not expected to pass: authorizing supervised injection facilities that allow users to shoot up under the care of a medical professional.


Uber’s plan to expand outside of the New York City area into cities such as Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse faces opposition from taxi cab owners who say Uber should be held to the same standards as their industry.

The app-based ride-hailing service had hoped to get statewide regulations that would allow it to operate throughout the state. But instead, lawmakers are considering a bill that would instead force Uber to go before local governments for permission to operate within their borders.

The ride-sharing company Lyft is also looking for state permission to expand.

Both companies are promising to create jobs in struggling upstate areas - though taxi owners say the expansion would devastate their industry.

“Ride-sharing services are popular and commonplace in so many parts of the nation,” said Republican Sen. James Seward of Otsego County. “Making them available throughout New York State would lead to economic, environmental, and safety benefits.”


The state law giving Mayor Bill de Blasio control of his city’s public schools will expire June 30 unless lawmakers vote to renew it.

The Democratic mayor has asked for a seven-year extension and the Democratic-controlled Assembly has passed a three-year extension. But Senate Republican Leader John Flanagan has said the mayor has yet to convince him to support something longer.

Last year lawmakers extended the policy for only a single year.

De Blasio recently upset Flanagan by turning down an invitation to discuss mayoral control at the second of two public hearings on the topic.

“With the future of mayoral control at stake, Mayor de Blasio has left too many unanswered questions about his stewardship of the New York City school system,” Flanagan, a Suffolk County Republican, said in May.

But a decision not to extend the policy could leave control of city schools in turmoil - making another short-term extension likely.


Lawmakers are working on proposals to legalize and regulate operators of daily fantasy sports after Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said the games amount to illegal gambling.

Lawmakers have begun advancing legislation to regulate daily fantasy sports, which would enable thousands of people to resume playing.

Bills moving through both the Senate and Assembly include registration fees for commercial operators and prohibitions against minors playing.

The largest commercial operators, FanDuel and DraftKings, agreed in March to stop taking bets in New York as lawmakers considered legalizing the popular online contests.


A Siena College poll released Tuesday found that 96 percent of registered voters believe addressing corruption should be a top issue in Albany. But so far, lawmakers are deadlocked on how to do it.

Cuomo has proposed eliminating a campaign finance loophole that allows limited liability companies to skirt contribution limits. But the proposal faces opposition in the GOP-led Senate. Some Republicans want to see term limits, but that idea faces obstacles in the Assembly.

“Let us stop talking theoretically about ethics and actually move on measures that we know our constituents want,” said Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, a Westchester County Democrat.

Instead of broader reforms, lawmakers say they hope to vote to approve a ballot question that, if passed by voters, would allow a judge to strip the pensions from lawmakers convicted of corruption. But that will require two votes - one this year and one in a future year - to go on the ballot.

Earlier this year the former Assembly speaker and Senate leader were both sentenced to federal prison for unrelated corruption convictions. More than 30 lawmakers have left office since 2000 facing criminal or ethical allegations.

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