Senate passes casinos, tax-free NY and most of women’s agenda

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The state Senate was working late into the night to wrap up the legislative session.

The Assembly finished at 9 p.m.

The Senate passed many of the major bills that the Assembly passed earlier in the day, including the legalization of four upstate casinos and allowing tax-free zones near college campuses, called Start-Up NY.

“The START-UP NY program will help build a stronger economy and help
businesses create new jobs, particularly in areas of the state that need
revitalization the most,” Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, said in a statement.

The casino and tax-free zones bills passed easily, although Democrats raised concerns about both programs — which were major initiatives for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a fellow Democrat.

The casino bill passed 48-11. The tax-free bill passed 46-13.

The Senate, controlled by the Independent Democratic Conference and Republicans, passed nine of the 10-points of Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act, except the abortion-rights provision.

The Democratic-led Assembly left without voting on the nine pieces after voting Thursday on the full 10-point package.

NOW-NYC president Sonia Ossorio urged the Assembly to stay in Albany and approve the nine pieces, which include workplace protections for women, including pay equity.

“The Assembly needs to put people over politics and immediately take up the nine live bills that have passed the Senate,” she said in a statement.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said the Assembly could return to approve the nine-point plan, but said it wasn’t feasible to do it Friday. The Senate didn’t take it up until late in the evening, and Silver has knocked Republicans for not supporting the abortion piece.

Skelos knocked Silver for leaving without an agreement on the nine points, calling it “unconscionable.”

“After a week’s worth of rhetoric, the Speaker has closed the Assembly’s session and sent his members home without acting on these important bills,” Skelos said.

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