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Heroin, Daily Fantasy & Uber top NYS to-do list

Posted at 9:49 PM, Jun 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-07 09:26:40-04

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, allow restaurants to serve alcohol before noon on Sundays, and regulate daily fantasy sports.

The Senate and the Assembly returned 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:

HEROIN ADDICTION

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.

UPSTATE UBER

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."

DAILY FANTASY SPORTS

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.

BRUNCH BILL
 
Before they adjourn for the year New York lawmakers may vote on a bill that would allow restaurants to serve alcohol before noon on Sundays. Known in Albany as the "brunch bill," the proposal comes from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who says it's time the state modernizes liquor laws that in some cases date back to prohibition.