A rollback of one aspect of the New York’s new gun law and a move to ease marijuana laws aren’t vital to adopting a state budget – but they are among the key sticking points as lawmakers continued to labor Wednesday to put together a spending plan.
Months ago, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said his $142.6 billion proposed budget was “simple and straightforward.” But a host of issues not raised initially in January are now at the center of talks. They include:
- Amendments to the gun law New York passed in January, just one month after the Newtown, Conn., school massacre, as Newsday first reported Tuesday.
Cuomo said he's considering backing down on a provision that outlaws sales of magazines that hold more than seven rounds – the toughest standard in the nation. But manufacturers don’t make such magazines. Additionally, the law allows the use of 10-round clips at shooting ranges. The amendment would allow the purchase of 10-round clips although owners would be bound to load just seven – except at target ranges and, perhaps, in their homes.
Cuomo said the change wasn’t a rollback but a technical correction to fix an “inconsistency” in the law. He tried to downplay criticism that the issue reflected that the gun law was enacted in haste, even though it was released publicly less than 24 hours before lawmakers voted.
“There was no haste … The gun bill was worked on every day for weeks and weeks and weeks,” Cuomo said. “It probably was one of the most exhaustive amount of staff hours of any piece of legislation that we have done.”
- Marijuana enforcement in New York City. Cuomo and most city Democrats want to ease marijuana laws so that possession of small amounts of marijuana in “public view” – displayed when a police officer is going through a stop-and-frisk process with a suspect – is considered a violation, not a crime.
Cuomo said he’d limit the law because “stop and frisk” is a New York City issue. Some legislators have questioned how a marijuana law could be crafted to apply to one municipality.
Lawmakers are also considered tougher laws against synthetic marijuana, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) said.
- Renewal of the so-called “millionaires’ tax,” an 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. Lawmakers are considering renewing ahead of time, riling some business groups and anti-tax activists.
Cuomo, who even added that legalization of “mixed martial arts” bouts was part of the mix, defended the idea of trying to tackle multiple issues amid budget negotiations.
"The budget presents an opportunity to get more things done,” Cuomo said at a news conference. "Everybody is here. Let's take the opportunity to get the most done."