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NY calls special session to tackle eviction moratorium, legalization latest

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(WBNG) -- UPDATE: The New York State Assembly has voted to extend the Eviction Moratorium until January 15, 2022.

This comes after Governor Kathy Hochul and state legislative leaders called for a special session of the legislature.

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New York lawmakers are back in session to fix what some say is a problem of their own creation.

Governor Kathy Hochul (D) and state legislative leaders called for a special session of the legislature Wednesday. Specifically, officials are hoping to extend New York's eviction moratorium, which ended at midnight.

The state has been heavily criticized for the slow distribution of federal relief funds to help renters. On Wednesday, opposition lawmakers said the state is in a crisis of its own making.

"Billions of dollars and it wasn't out then (March) and guess what, it's not out now," said State Sen. Robert Ortt (R, Senate Minority Leader). "So what do we do, we come back and we're gonna say we're gonna extend the moratorium until January of 2022."

Not only will the moratorium likely be extended, some lawmakers told 12 News it will also be upgraded.

There are four bills in total the legislature is expected to consider during the special session, but two of them are targeted at helping clear up the mess New York has made of the federal rental relief program.

A recent report by the state comptroller suggests New York is the second slowest state in terms of distributing this relief funding.

Some lawmakers suggested this week the state could have avoided calling this special session if the state had done a better job.

Now that we're in this situation, there is some hope the protections will be better.

State Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (D, District 123) said the two bills will expand the types of people who can receive help.

"Keeping people in their homes, but acknowledging that landlords, many in my community, are on the hook, in a way that they are deeply worried, so there's not only going to be a moratorium on evictions, but a moratorium on mortgage foreclosures and tax liens," the assemblywoman said. "We have people who own their own home but can no longer pay their taxes."

It's not just the eviction moratorium officials are hoping to vote on.

Last week, 12 News informed you Governor Hochul was expected to announce her nominees to the state Office of Cannabis Management at any moment.

She has since put those nominations in front of the state senate, which is expected to vote on and confirm them during this session.

While Lupardo says the pair will do a great job, State Senator Fred Akshar (R, District 52) said he still does not support legalization.

"I stand firm in my convictions, stand firm in my position on the issue. I'll be voting no on both of the nominees today, especially for they're both on the record being very anti-public safety with some of their comments," Akshar told 12 News.

Even though the confirmation of these nominees will speed up the process, some experts have said we are still likely almost a year away from legal sales of cannabis in the state.

Now in addition to cannabis and rent relief this session, lawmakers are also expected to extend the state's Open Meeting Law, which requires public meetings also be held virtually so more people can attend.

Josh Rosenblatt

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