Big Ticket Items in Albany for 2021

By  Anthony Figliola….

Recreational Marijuana

For years the Democratic Assembly has been pushing to legalize the manufacture and distribution of recreational pot.  In 2019 they decriminalized it.  However, whole sale legalization has been met with opposition from suburban legislators who are concerned about the impacts on wider drug use -especially given how hard they worked to attack opioid abuse.

But….as with all things in life money is a powerful motivator.  As New York stares down a $13 billion budget deficit, which includes a pre-pandemic $6 billion they need find a way to close that hole.  You can only tax the rich so much before they decide to high-tail it out of the state.   Just last week Siena College released a poll that showed a majority of New Yorkers support the legalization (60% support/32% oppose) – highest numbers recorded by Siena.

Look to see the new democratic super-majority pass this measure, perhaps it will be in the governor’s budget proposal in January.

Legalized Sports Betting

As with the recreational pot, the sports betting lobby has spent millions over the past several years to gain traction for their issue.  When New Jersey approved sports betting in 2018, the industry was convinced New York would follow suit.  Perhaps, if COVID didn’t happen they could have gotten their wish this year.

The sports betting lobby got a big boost from last week’s Siena College poll that cited for the first time a slim majority (50%) of New Yorkers support legalizing sports betting.  You can be sure that State Senator Joe Addabbo’s (Chairman of Racing, Gaming and Wagering) phone was blowing up with calls.

If the federal government doesn’t bail out the state for it’s pre and post COVID budget woes there is a stronger than not chance this passes before the legislature recesses in June.  But in true Albany fashion it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility for this to be in the end of session omnibus bill, affectionately referred to as the “Big Ugly”.

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