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NYSNYS NEWS: Legislature and Cuomo quietly ending 2016 legislative session tainted by scandal.
NYSNYS NEWS: Legislature and Cuomo quietly ending 2016 legislative session tainted by scandal.

By Kyle Hughes

ALBANY, N.Y. (June 10) -- The 2016 legislative session appears to be headed for a quiet end on June 16 after a week that saw a number of marginal issues spotlighted and no action on some of the larger matters pending before the Senate and Assembly.

Legislators continued to resist Gov. Andrew Cuomo on ethics reform, instead focusing on other less politically charged issues. Cuomo has pushed for reforms in the wake of the convictions and sentencing of former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Still on the to-do list was extending mayoral control of New York City schools, an issue that has become entwined with Mayor Bill de Blasio's infighting with Senate Republicans and Cuomo.

Legislators also continued to refuse to hold hearings or otherwise address the growing water contamination scare in Hoosick Falls. Blood test results showed elevated levels of a chemical called PFOA in residents. Activists have faulted Cuomo's response to the situation, comparing it to the lead contamination of the Flint, MI water supply.

Lead poisoning can cause a myriad of health problems, especially in children. The science is less clear on PFOA, a widely used chemical in consumer products that is present in the blood of most Americans. It appears to have tainted drinking water in and around Hoosick Falls because of its use at industrial plants there. Unpolluted water supplies have since been introduced, but residents remain frightened about prior exposure.

Another issue under consideration by lawmakers was overturning a new 5 cent tax on plastic bags in New York City, a idea pushed by environmentalists to reduce waste, litter and the energy used to make the bags.

Cuomo also released the recommendations of his heroin and opioid task force, calling for further restrictions on accessibility to prescription drugs and easier access to drug treatment. On another front, he issued his proposal to continue state control of the New York Racing Association, which wants to be re-privatized after several years under the control of the state.

In Niagara Falls Thursday, he named three items as his top priorities of the end of session: Ethics, more money for breast cancer care, and the heroin/opioid addiction crisis.

There is also a push to lift the statute of limitations for lawsuits filed over medical malpractice and allegations of past child sexual abuse. Gambling interests are battling over a proposal to legalize betting on what are known as daily fantasy sports such as FanDuel. Businesses profiting from the alcohol industry are pushing a "brunch bill" to end the prohibition on serving drinks in bars and restaurants before noon on Sunday.

Finally, the Legislature is facing a lobbying push by Uber to extend its riding sharing phone app throughout the state. Uber is the most highly valued start-up company in the world, valued at more than $62 billion and eclipsing the market valuation of such industrial giants as General Motors, Ford and Honda.

The expansion is being held up on a variety of fronts, including Uber's push to let its drivers be covered by regular auto insurance rather than commercial carrier policies.