Cuomo talks Covid response, marijuana, sports betting in State of the State

Gov. Cuomo outlined a number of initiatives for the ongoing battle with Covid-19 in Monday's State of the State address. Sports wagering and final legislation to permit adult use of marijuana also were on his list for the new legislative session.

Mobile sports betting and concrete legislation to legalize the adult use of marijuana were among the promises for the upcoming legislative session Monday in Gov. Cuomo’s State of the State address.

Cuomo also outlined new efforts to vaccinate residents and protect commercial tenants from eviction in discussing initiatives for dealing with the continuing Covid-19 pandemic.

Proposals focused on reopening the state, becoming a leader in the growing green energy economy, and rebuilding and strengthening New York’s infrastructure will be announced in the coming days, according to a statement on the governor’s website.

“There are moments in life that can change a person fundamentally — sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse,” Cuomo said. “Likewise, there are episodes in history that transform society and Covid is one of those moments. We see the risk and peril, but we also see the promise and potential of this moment. This next year we will see economies realign and reset around the world and New York will lead the way.”

Cuomo is proposing a Medical Supplies Act that will give priority to personal protective equipment manufactured in the United States, saying much of the delay in outfitting New York’s frontline Covid-19 responders was due to overreliance on equipment made overseas.

He also wants legislation to make the use of telehealth technology easier and more patient-friendly.

Cuomo also is looking to recruit 1,000 people including active and retired health care professionals, students from medical, nursing and public health scholastic programs and others to form the nucleus of a public health corps to assist with Covid-19 vaccinations programs.

Building on decriminalization laws passed in 2019, Cuomo is proposing the creation of an Office of Cannabis Management to oversee a new adult-use marijuana program, as well as the State’s existing medical and cannabinoid hemp programs.

He stated cannabis legalization will create more than 60,000 new jobs and spur $3.5 billion in economic activity and more than $300 million in tax revenue when fully implemented. 

Saying that an industry study found that roughly 20 percent of New Jersey’s mobile sports wagering comes from New Yorkers, the governor wants the New York State Gaming Commission to issue a request for proposals to select one or more providers to offer mobile sports wagering in New York. The platform would be required to have a partnership with at least one of the existing licensed commercial casinos.

The commission will also require any entity operating mobile wagering apps include safeguards against abuses and addiction.

Cuomo also intends to codify a moratorium on commercial tenant evictions until May 1, matching a law he recently signed to protect residential tenants.

Cuomo also will advance legislation that extends early voting hours from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends as well as on a minimum of three week days during the 10-day early voting period.

He also wants the Legislature to pass “no excuse” absentee voting legislation again so it can go to referendum this fall.

The governor also want to change state election law to require boards of election to process absentee ballots as they are received and to report the existing results on Election Day. Existing laws give them up to two weeks from Election Day to do so.

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