ALBANY — State lawmakers on Tuesday approved measures to renew Kendra’s Law and allow medical marijuana to treat post-traumatic stress disorder — but Mayor de Blasio’s future control of city schools remained an unsettled issue.
With the hours dwindling before Wednesday’s scheduled end of the Legislature’s annual session, legislative leaders and Gov. Cuomo failed to reach a deal that would extend mayoral control, which expires at the end of the month.
Charter schools remained a major sticking point as the GOP-controlled Senate continued to insist that any bill extending mayoral control also allow more charters.
“I think I’ve made it pretty clear that we think charter schools should be an integral part of any discussion on mayoral control,” Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-Suffolk County) said after meeting with Cuomo and other legislative leaders.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) has balked at allowing more charters.
“I’m in the same place I was,” Heastie told reporters Tuesday, repeating his opposition to expanding the number of charters.
Heastie argued the state authorized an increase in charter schools allowed in the city two years ago and that limit has not been reached. He also said the state increased funding for charters in the budget enacted in April.
Bronx Sen. Jeff Klein, leader of the Independent Democratic Conference, said he was still hopeful a deal can be reached to extend mayoral control for two years.
“We still have time and mayoral control is very important to the school kids of the City of New York,” Klein said.
De Blasio, meanwhile, enlisted Arnie Duncan, former education secretary to President Obama, in his cause Tuesday. Duncan, a longtime booster of charter schools, said he wasn’t familiar with the details of Flanagan’s proposals.
“Those who support charters, or good charters, whatever it might be, to somehow say that removing mayoral control helps kids — that doesn’t make sense,” Duncan said.
Asked whether he was willing to compromise, de Blasio insisted it wasn’t his call.
“I don’t sit in the room with the four men and do the negotiation,” de Blasio said, going on to argue the proposal shouldn’t be tied to other matters. “We should stop taking such an important issue and making it political football.”
City Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina was among several city officials who traveled to Albany to talk with lawmakers as the session’s end drew near.
As negotiations dragged on, the Senate and Assembly each spent their second-to-last day at the Capitol approving dozens of bills.
The Senate gave final approval to a five-year extension of Kendra’s Law, which gives judges the authority to order psychiatric treatment for individuals who pose threats to public safety or themselves.
The law, which expires on June 30th, was named for Kendra Webdale, who was pushed to her death in January 1999 as she waited for an N train in Manhattan. Her attacker, Andrew Goldstein, was diagnosed with schizophrenia but was off his medication.
Sen. Catharine Young (R-Olean) said she was disappointed the Assembly refused to go along with a permanent extension passed earlier in the year by the Senate but the law was too important to let expire.
The Senate also gave final approval to a bill that adds PTSD to the list of ailments that can be treated with medical marijuana. The measure now heads to Gov. Cuomo, who has not indicated whether he will sign it.
Assembly members on Tuesday also gave final approval to a bill passed by the Senate a day earlier that placed greater restrictions on the indoor use of electronic cigarettes, effectively banning their use in most restaurants, bars and workplaces. Cuomo is expected to sign the measure.
Cuomo and legislative leaders also announced agreement on legislation to enact a scaled-down “Buy American” policy for road and bridge products worth over $ 1 million. The policy would only cover iron and steel products.
“When we Buy American, we support the continued growth of our manufacturing industries here at home, preserve and create jobs and invest in our future,” Cuomo said.
In January, Cuomo included in his proposed budget a “Buy American” provision that would have required state agencies to buy from American companies for most purchases over $ 100,000.
That proposal met stiff resistance from upstate lawmakers who represent districts near the Canadian border and from Canadian officials themselves who feared that it would harm cross-border economic traffic.
Cuomo also signed into a law a measure cracking down on child marriage, raising the age of consent for marriage from 14 to 18.
With Jillian Jorgensen