Sunday morning alcohol sales, new fantasy sports regulations, plans to confront opioid addiction and expanded screening for breast cancer all headlined New York State lawmakers 2016 session.
With the session wrapping up early Saturday morning, here are several highlights from the 2016 Legislative session:
Sunday Alcohol Sales – Allow bars and restaurants to serve alcohol beginning at 10am, instead of the current noon start time. The change, proposed by Cuomo, is intended to help businesses draw the brunch crowds and fans of sporting events that begin in the morning. Bars and restaurants outside of New York City would be able to apply for special permits to open at 8 am up to a dozen times a year, presumably for special sporting events.
Fantasy Sports – New bill both legalizes and taxes these popular online games, which were cut off last year after Attorney General Schneiderman said they amounted to illegal gambling.
Heroin and Opioid Legislation – Restrict opioid prescriptions to seven days while expanding treatment options for addicts as part of a plan to combat addiction. This would change insurance laws to expand coverage of rehab, and direct state funds to recovery programs intended to help addicts get and stay clean.
Breast Cancer Screenings – This legislation encourages early detection of breast cancer by increasing access to, and the availability of, breast cancer screenings. The bill extends hours for screening at 210 hospital-based mammography facilities across the state and eliminates insurance hurdles for mammograms and other screening and diagnostic imaging procedures to detect breast cancer.
Real Ethics Reform – Intended to restore public trust in state government following a rash of corruption scandals. One is a proposed Constitutional amendment which, if approved by voters, that would strip state pensions from lawmakers who are convicted of corruption. Ethics measures also include stronger laws prohibiting campaigns from working with independent political organizations, which can spend unlimited amounts of money, as a way to get around campaign finance limits.
City Schools – Legislative leaders and Governor Cuomo agreed to a one-year extension of the policy that gives the Mayor of NY control over his city’s schools. Mayor Bill de Blasio had sought a seven-year extension of the policy, which was first enacted in 2002. Cuomo and Assembly Democrats supported a three-year renewal, but Senate Republicans insisted on just the one year. The Republicans also were successful in adding a requirement that city schools publish information regarding their spending.
The 2016 Legislative session was scheduled to end Thursday, but dragged into Friday when lawmakers and Cuomo struggled to come to an agreement on mayoral control.