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Gun law amendments part of the budget-talk mix
As lawmakers try to nail down a state budget, a last-minute push to amend New York’s new, controversial gun-control law has emerged as one of the last sticking points, several officials said.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and legislative leaders are close to signing off on a $142 billion budget that would include a minimum-wage hike, a renewal of the so-called “millionaires’ tax,” and an array of business-tax cuts.
The budget deal also is expected to include a provision to send a $350 family "tax relief" check to households, whose incomes fall between $40,000 and $300,000, with children, legislative sources said.
They are also dealing with some non-monetary items, such as a Democrat-backed idea to ease laws governing possession of marijuana in “public view” and criminalize synthetic marijuana.
“We will enact something of that nature. We’ve been talking about that — bath salts as well,” said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan). “There are a couple of thoughts on the table.”
Another key issue is New York's comprehensive gun-control law, which was enacted in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school massacre. Some of its provisions kick in on April 15 — including one that prohibits loading more than seven rounds of ammunition in a magazine, down from 10 under the previous law. Some lawmakers have called for changing the magazine provision as well as amending other sections to exempt active and retired law-enforcement personnel.
But lawmakers are set to adjourn next week for the Passover-Easter break — and not return till April 15. The result is that some lawmakers want to make any amendments this week before the break, sources said. Failing that, some want to push back the effective date.
Many other outstanding items are nearing resolution. Leaders indicated they are close to formally agreeing to raising the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $9 in a series of steps by the end of 2015.
They are also discussing renewing the income-tax surcharge that applies higher rates to singles earning more than $1 million annually and joint filers earning $2 million or more. The tax isn’t set to expire till 2014 — an election year. Senate co-leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) said there was a “good possibility” a renewal of the tax would be included in the budget.
Republicans have said the package will include a range of tax cuts, including greater tax credits for child care and a possible phase out of a utility tax, known as 18-A, imposed in 2009 after the stock market meltdown.
But most of the tax cuts won’t become effective this year, Silver said. Instead, they would be phased-in over time.