The State Legislature has a long-standing tradition of passing a slew of legislation on the last day or two of its session. This year, the crunch included bills for a medical marijuana program, an extension of the brownfields tax credit program through early 2017, and a bill to add Family Court judges, including one for Monroe County.
The medical marijuana bill was perhaps the biggest deal to emerge in the final days. Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders had negotiated the bill for the better part of the week, and eventually settled on a rigid program. Only patients with very severe conditions, such as cancers and certain degenerative nerve diseases, will be allowed access to medical marijuana, though not in smokeable forms.
The Legislature also passed a bill to allow the second phase of the $1.2 billion Rochester City School District's Facilities Modernization Program to proceed. The project's first phase is under scrutiny by the FBI, so the legislation was controversial. Citing the investigation, Democratic Assembly member David Gantt and Republican Assembly member Bill Nojay voted against the bill.
The Legislature also passed bills to renew Rochester's red light camera program and to allow the state to sell property to Monroe County for a new children's detention center. And the state legalized sparklers, a cause championed by Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle.
Earlier in the session, the Assembly passed legislation requiring manufacturers to phase out certain toxic chemicals from children's toys, clothing, and furniture. But the Senate didn't pass the bill before the session ended. The Senate also didn't pass other legislation approved by the Assembly, including the 10-point Women's Equality Act and the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act.