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“We are working hard on a three-way agreed upon bill”

New York lawmakers are ready to schedule initial action on legalizing and taxing recreational marijuana instead of waiting to include it in the budget, a process that Gov. Andrew Cuomo controls.

Final details are being worked out for a vote before the state’s budget is due on April 1, state Senate Finance Committee Chair Liz Krueger (D) said Thursday. The governor is part of ongoing talks, she said.

“We are working hard on a three-way agreed upon bill that could pass the Legislature before we get to the budget,” Krueger said in a phone interview with Bloomberg Government. “I feel like we are 95% there. We have taken some big steps towards getting this done.”

“The administration is working with all parties to pass a comprehensive regulatory structure for adult-use cannabis that prioritizes social equity, social justice, economic development, and the public health and safety of all New Yorkers,” State budget spokesman Freeman Klopott confirmed in an email.

Divorcing cannabis questions from talks over the state’s approximately $193.3 billion spending plan for fiscal 2022 improves the measure’s likelihood of becoming law. Democrats, who hold a supermajority in both houses, have the numbers to override any veto if they stick together.

Pressing this issue now is one more sign that the Legislature has been emboldened as Cuomo faces multiple scandals including allegations of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior from six women. There’s also a federal probe of his administration’s response to Covid-19 deaths in nursing homes.

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