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State Assembly passes Lake Ontario flood relief, tax extenders and more during overnight session


The state Assembly voted in the early hours of Thursday morning on a bill that takes care of some unfinished business in the 2017 legislative session.

After Gov. Andrew Cuomo called a special session Wednesday, lawmakers agreed to extend the New York City mayor's control of the schools for two more years, and gave counties permission to charge sales tax for three more years. The Senate and Assembly had left those items unfinished when they ended the session June 21. Mayoral control was to expire Friday, and the major credit rating agencies were threatening to downgrade counties credit ratings over the uncertainty of the future of the sales tax. 

The Assembly also agreed to provide $55 million in flood relief to areas damaged by high waters on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.The legislature had passed a $90 million flood relief package last week, but Cuomo didn’t sign it, indicating there were “problems” with the legislation.

The bill would alsohelp the financially ailing Vernon Downs raceway and casino in the Mohawk Valley.

The bill, dubbed the "mini ugly," also renames the Thruway's Tappan Zee Bridge after Cuomo’s late father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo.

Lawmakers did not address any plans to help the troubled MTA and New York City transit systems, strengthening of the state's charter schools, or ethics reform, after an economic development scandal in the governor's office.

The measure was negotiated behind closed doors between Cuomo and majority party legislative leaders, and the bills were not in print until nearly midnight Thursday.

Minority party leaders condemned the process. Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins called it “dysfunctional,” and a “disservice” to the people of the state.

Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb (R-Canandaigua) agreed, saying, “Today’s extraordinary session produced nothing to celebrate. There is no victory in completing work that should have been done weeks ago. No one deserves applause for passing bills in the middle of the night out of public view.”

The Senate plans to vote on the package during daylight hours on Thursday.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.