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New York Senate adjourns with Assembly to follow

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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York lawmakers worked through hundreds of bills Thursday and into Friday as they sought to end their work for 2019.

The Democrat-led state Senate adjourned just before 1 a.m., with the state Assembly expected to follow later Friday morning.

Here’s a look at legislative activity on the session’s final day:

MARIJUANA

After efforts to legalize recreational marijuana fizzled on Wednesday the Senate passed a bill that eliminates the criminal penalties for possessing up to two ounces of marijuana. Instead, public possession or use of that much pot would result in a violation punishable by fines of $50 for an ounce or less or $200 for between one ounce and two ounces.

The Assembly planned to vote on the measure early Friday morning.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he will sign the measure, while advocates of legalization say they will try again in 2020.

SURROGACY

A proposal to legalize and regulate paid surrogacy in New York appears dead for the year in the state Legislature after lawmakers in the Assembly balked Thursday.

Michigan and New York are now the only two states that expressly forbid contracts in which a woman is compensated for carrying the child of another individual or couple.

Critics of that law say it forces same-sex and infertile couples to travel to other states to find surrogates, an expensive and difficult process.

The Democrat-led Senate voted to legalize and regulate paid surrogacy, but Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announced Thursday that it won’t get a vote in his chamber before lawmakers adjourn this week.

Many Assembly members have concerns about protecting the rights of paid surrogates and the commercialization of the practice, he said in a statement.

“Many members, including a large majority of women in our conference, have raised important concerns that must be properly addressed before we can move forward,” he said.

Supporters said they’ll try again next year.

ADOPTEE BIRTH CERTIFICATES

The Assembly followed the Senate in voting to let adult adoptees to obtain a certified copy of their original birth certificate.

Under current law, adoptees must go before a judge to request to have their birth certificate unsealed.

“Knowing who we are and where we came from is critical not only to understanding our heritage, but for knowing our health history and any risks it might pose,” Speaker Carl Heastie, D-the Bronx, said in a statement hailing the bill.

SOLITARY CONFINEMENT

Lawmakers did not vote on legislation that would restrict the use of solitary confinement in prison to 15 days. Instead, they struck a deal with Cuomo to “overhaul” the way the state’s corrections agency uses isolation as a punishment.

Under the agreement, the state’s prisons will ban the solitary confinement of pregnant, disabled or adolescent inmates and agree to move toward a 30-day cap on isolation.

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