In 1826, Surrogate of New York Gideon John Tucker famously wrote that “no man’s life, liberty or property is safe while the Legislature is in session.” Almost 200 years later, that statement still rings true (though it should be revised to say “no person’s life, liberty or property is safe…”).

As it they usually do, the 2014 legislative session ended in a somewhat chaotic fashion, with each house of Legislature approving hundreds of bills on a wide range of topics. The Assembly adjourned for the year just before 3:00 p.m. on Friday morning, while the Senate completed its work on Friday afternoon.

Some of the highest profile measures on which the Governor and Legislature were able to reach agreement include:

Heroin and Opioid Abuse and Prescription Drug Fraud

The Legislature approved an 11-bill package of measures that are intended to address the state’s growing problem with heroin, opioid and prescription drug abuse.  Among the measures included in the package are changes to insurance law to improve treatment options for persons with heroin and opioid addiction; penalty enhancements and new law enforcement tools; provisions to ensure the proper and safe use of naloxone; and public awareness campaigns to prevent drug abuse.

Teacher Evaluations

Governor Cuomo and the Legislature have agreed on a two-year moratorium to protect teachers from being unfairly penalized for what critics say was a rushed and uneven rollout of the national Common Core curriculum for two years. Under the agreement, teachers who receive “ineffective” or “developing” ratings solely because of their students’ test performance will be evaluated again, but without the Common Core-related test scores being counted.  New York state United Teachers (NYSUT), the state’s largest teacher’s union, supports the legislation.

As part of the state’s 2014-15 state budget, the state has already postponed the impact on students who received poor grades on tests based on the new national standards.

Medical Marijuana

Under a program run by the state Department of Health (DOH), doctors will be able to prescribe marijuana for the following specific medical conditions: epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, neuropathies, spinal cord injuries, cancer and HIV/AIDS. Patients will not be able to smoke the drug; it can be consumer as a vapor or be eaten.  The Governor will have the authority to end the program if, after consultation with the State Police and the Department of Health, he determines that it is contributing to a rise in crime or marijuana abuse. The program will expire in seven years.

While it is possible that the Legislature will return to Albany at some point before the end of 2014, as 0of this wiring the Legislature is not scheduled to return to session until January 2015.