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What you need to know for 01/24/2017

NY Legislature's last week: minimum wage, medical pot

NY Legislature's last week: minimum wage, medical pot

The fate of proposals to raise the minimum wage, allow medical marijuana and combat the rise of hero
NY Legislature's last week: minimum wage, medical pot
Supporters cheer after the Senate health committee advanced a bill that would legalize medical marijuana in New York state, May 20, 2014.
Photographer: The Associated Press

The fate of proposals to raise the minimum wage, allow medical marijuana and combat the rise of heroin addiction will be decided this week as New York lawmakers work toward an end to their session.

Advocates for medical marijuana hoped last-minute talks with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and top lawmakers from the Assembly and Senate might secure passage. Cuomo has said he's open to authorizing a medical marijuana program, but only if it has safeguards. Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos has also raised questions about such a program, saying he'd like to see a system that only authorizes ingestible marijuana products.

A deal would likely have to be crafted by Monday in order for the Legislature to have time to vote.

Meanwhile, hundreds of supporters of a higher minimum wage plan to gather at the Capitol on Tuesday in support of legislation to raise the wage from $8 an hour to $10.10. Under the proposal, the wage would automatically go up in the future based on inflation, and New York City and other communities would be able to set local starting wages of up to $13.13 per hour.

The proposal is supported by Cuomo, but it faces challenges with some Republican lawmakers who say a higher wage could force business owners to cut positions and raise prices.

The Senate has already passed more than 20 bills to fight opiate addiction, blamed for a rise in overdose deaths. The Assembly has also looked at the problem, but hasn't yet voted on the Senate bills. Some Democrats say the Senate's proposals are too punitive and don't do enough to treat addiction as a public health problem.

Other debates are expected on a package of measures designed to combat sex trafficking and help victims of domestic violence. The measures — contained within a single bill — have broad support in both chambers, but Republicans have objected to another provision in the bill that would match state abortion law with the rights spelled out in the Roe v. Wade decision. The Democratic leaders of the Assembly have so far refused to split up the bill.

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