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With three days left in session, Cuomo and Morelle talk medical marijuana, teacher evaluations

Minutes before midnight on Monday, workers in the State Senate’s print shop were asked to make dozens of copies of bill number S-4406—D, better known around the capitol as the Savino/Gottfried Compassionate Care Act.

Better known to almost everyone else as the medical marijuana bill.

The bill incorporated two key changes Governor Andrew Cuomo had pushed for: The health advisory council was gone, as was a provision allowing physicians assistants to prescribe the drug. But the bill still allowed for the ingestion of marijuana by smoking, something the Governor wanted out of the bill. On Tuesday’s Capitol Pressroom radio show, the Governor said that while he remains in discussion with bill sponsors Senator Diane Savino and Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, he will not sign the bill as it’s printed. More telling, the executive won’t present bill language, he said, yet because it’s too early.

“We’re not really at the ‘details level,’ said Cuomo. “This is not a question of language right now, smoking or not smoking you do not need a lot of language to discuss that. I want a provision that if we find that if we have a created a system that poses a public safety risk or public health risk, that we can stop the sale of marijuana. That is not a language question, that is a concept question, and we are at that level.”

On Tuesday afternoon after a meeting with the Governor, Senators Jeff Klein and Diane Savino and Gottfried told reporters they see progress in the negotiations, but would not elaborate.

Common Core

With the clock ticking toward the end of session, several competing rallies were held at the State Capitol on Tuesday including workers pushing for a higher minimum wage; gender equity groups lobbying for equal pay, and parents and teachers urging the state to move away from the Common Core Standards.

While none of these issues is likely to make any serious legislative headway, Governor Cuomo expressed some hope for a bill that would delink teacher evaluations from Common Core-aligned tests.

“We are at the devil is in the details point in teacher evaluation,” said Cuomo. “We are at ‘language’ with teacher evaluations and we have made good progress, but we are not there. But I am cautiously optimistic on teacher evaluations.”

Less confident in the bill’s progress was Assembly Majority Joe Morelle, D – Rochester. “I think there was more optimism earlier this month that we would get it,” he told Capitol Pressroom host Susan Arbetter Tuesday morning. “I thought the Governor had signaled a willingness to essentially say that if the testing and the Common Core implementation has not been right for students, it is also not right for teachers. We obviously exempted the impact of students earlier this year. But I understand…that there has not been an agreement yet.”

The Governor told the Capitol Pressroom on Tuesday his 3 top end-of-session priorities are medical marijuana, uncoupling teacher assessments from the Common Core and legislation addressing the heroin epidemic.

Listen to The Capitol Pressroom here.

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