ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Thursday was the final day of New York State’s legislative session, typically the last chance for lawmakers to pass bills for the year unless they call back a special session.
As it all comes to a close, most of the landmark pieces of legislation like legalizing recreational marijuana and mobile sports betting were already passed much earlier in the year. But other issues like parole reform were still being discussed in the final hours.
Some freshman lawmakers about how they think this session has gone. “Everyone will say this has been a very strange legislative session,” said Sen. Jeremy Cooney from Rochester, who started the job during the pandemic. “For me, it’s what I know.”
Cooney says fully funding foundation aid for schools through the budget was a highlight. “Every year the budget is a bigger and bigger number but this year we finally made the commitment to fully funding education in the state of New York.”
Freshman Assemblymember Zohran Mamdani also says the budget was historic, specifically the legalization of recreational marijuana. “That is a huge victory for justice and a huge victory for justice across the state. I think there are aspects of our budget that are truly remarkable.”
Still, other proposals Mamdani would like to pass weren’t taken up, like the New York Health Act to create a single-payer system. “It is hard to leave here with a full heart and a sense of joy when I know that New Yorkers are dying because of our inaction,” he said. And parole reforms like Elder Parole remained uncertain.
This year, there was a democratic veto-proof supermajority in the legislature. Despite that, some progressive measures like a carbon tax didn’t move through and continue to be worked on.
Meanwhile, Freshman Republican Sen. Mike Martucci would have liked to see the legislature fully remove the Governor’s Emergency Powers as he faces multiple allegations. “We’re slated to leave today with no real resolution to all the scandals and controversy that’s been surrounding the governor,” Martucci said.