State Legislative Tracker: New York approves medical marijuana

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June 23, 2014

Edited by Joel Williams
This week’s tracker takes a look at the legalization of medical marijuana in New York. Legislators approved a pilot program that would make it available to patients with only certain diseases. Only ten diseases were approved under the program.

Weekly highlight

Last week, no state adjourned its legislative session. Here is a brief look at issues making headlines across the country:

  • New York: New York is set to become the 23rd state to legalize medical marijuana after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) and legislative leaders announced on June 19, 2014, that an agreement had been reached for a medical marijuana pilot program. Under the Compassionate Care Act, the program would allow for medical marijuana to be prescribed for at least 10 diseases, including epilepsy, AIDS, ALS and neuropathy. The program could start in as soon as 18 months. At the direction of the state's health commissioner, more illnesses can be added to the list. The legislation does not allow the drug to be sold in plant form or smoked, but allows for other other options like edibles, tinctures and in vapor form, similar to e-cigarettes. Before the agreement was reached with legislative leaders, Cuomo sought a no-smoking provision because he did not want the state to promote smoking. Cuomo said on the legislation, "Medical marijuana has the capacity to do a lot of good for a lot of people who are in pain, who are suffering and are in desperate need of a treatment that can provide relief." Any patients that are caught selling their prescribed marijuana could face a misdemeanor charge. The legislation will also require patients to carry registration cards that show that they are authorized to posses the drug. Under the authority of the State Health Department, the program has a seven-year sunset period to evaluate the program. Because of a provision in the legislation, the health department has the authority to pull the plug on the program if at any time they feel that the program is endangering the health and safety of the public.[1][2][3][4][5]
  • Pennsylvania: According to an independent audit released last Wednesday for fiscal year 2012-13, the Pennsylvania legislature held a $153 million surplus, up by 4 percent, even as the state faces a budget deficit of $1.4 billion for 2014 and 2015. Using that money to draw down the deficit, however, appears unlikely. While the legislature has used reserve money for past projects such as public education and cleanup of hazardous sites, Rep. Mark Keller (R), the chairman of the Legislative Audit Advisory Commission, said it has historically kept a reserve in anticipation of a stall in enacting a budget. Such a situation is developing ahead of the June 30 budget deadline, as Gov. Tom Corbett (R) has refused to enact tax increases unless changes are made to state pensions and liquor laws. Vincent Hughes, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, did not rule out the possibility of using any of the surplus, but added that using it all "would destroy the autonomy of the legislative branch." Corbett's office is more receptive to the idea, with spokesman Jay Pagni saying, "These dollars offer the opportunity to protect needed state programs in jeopardy of being cut due to our current fiscal situation." The audit comes nearly six months late, which was blamed on a change in the audit commission's leadership. Total spending on the operation of the legislature decreased by about $6 million to $301 million. The auditing firm, Mitchell & Titus, issued several recommendations, including the official declaration of the reserve fund's purpose and appropriate amount, which the commission recommended to the legislature. It also suggested that the House centralize its accounting; currently, eight leaders from both major parties control an account each, whereas the Senate has two leaders from both parties control their own accounts.[6][7][8][9][10][11]
  • South Carolina: The 2014 General Assembly extended session, which concluded on June 19, was thought to be "the most successful in years," with the legislature successfully deciding on several controversial topics. It was agreed upon to increase education funding for children in poverty, which legislators said will encourage reading at a younger age and integrating technology in classrooms. Texting while driving will be completely banned while intoxicated driving will have stricter consequences. Ignition interlock devices, preventing drunk drivers from starting their vehicles, will be required for repeat offenders. Additionally, a long debated ethics reform bill died in the last few days of the session. The bill would have required officeholders to disclose all of their income sources, though not the amount. Third party groups with goals to defeat or elect candidates would have been required to disclose their donors and expenses. The bill, which was the result of two years of effort, was deemed as infringing on freedom and anonymity of speech. Finally, a $7 billion spending plan for state taxes, which will go into effect July 1, was approved by the legislature. A major topic of the budget included a potential pay raise for state legislators. The House proposed a budget plan that included doubling legislators' stipend -- a $12,000 increase per person. Gov. Nikki Haley (R) vetoed the raise, but was overridden by the House early last week. House Majority Leader Bruce Bannister (R) defended the increase, saying that "it should not cost a member [of the legislature] money to serve." The cost of living has increased and gas costs have more than tripled since the last pay increase occurred in 1995. Rep. Nathan Ballentine (R) voted against the increase. He said that "[his] voters talked to [him] about more money for roads and schools and jobs," but not pay increases for lawmakers. The Senate, supporting Governor Haley, voted 10-32 against the raise.[12][13][14][15][16]

Regular sessions

Current sessions capture for the week of June 23, 2014
See also: Dates of 2014 state legislative sessions
Click here to see a chart of each state's 2014 session information.

Currently nine out of 50 state legislatures are meeting in regular session. One state, Virginia, is in special session. California is in special session concurrent with its regular session.

The following states have convened their 2014 regular session:[17]

The following states have adjourned their 2014 regular session:[18]

Special sessions

Snapshot of State Legislatures:
Saturday, April 18, 2015
There are 7,383 Total State Legislators
Total Democratic state legislators 3,169 (42.9%)
Total Republican state legislators 4,113 (55.7%)
There are 99 Total State Legislative Chambers
Total Democratic Party-controlled chambers 30
Total Republican Party-controlled chambers 68
Total tied or nonpartisan chambers 1
2015 Session Information
Total Special Elections 33
Total Special Sessions 1

The California State Legislature is meeting in a special session concurrent with its regular session to discuss a proposal by Gov. Jerry Brown (D) to change the state's rainy day fund. Brown's proposal would require the state to save some of the revenue from capital gains taxes. He hopes to have his proposal approved by the legislature and on the 2014 ballot. California's rainy day fund has existed since 2004 but has been empty for a majority of that time.[19]


The Virginia State Legislature is meeting in special session to try and pass an estimated $96 billion budget for the next two years. The session is not expected to end quickly, as Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) and the Republican-led House disagree over whether the state should accept further Medicaid funding from the federal government. This special session is required as the legislature failed to pass a budget during the yearly regular session. Should no agreement be reached by July 1, Virginia's government could shut down.[20]

In recess

As of today, June 23, there is one state legislature currently in recess:[21]

See also: State legislative elections, 2014

A total of 87 of the 99 chambers will hold state legislative elections on November 4, 2014.

The 87 chambers with elections in 2014 are in 46 states. They are:

The Kansas, Minnesota, New Mexico and South Carolina senates also typically hold elections in odd years. However, senators are elected to 4-year terms in those states and those will not be up for election again until 2015.

1090 of the country's 1,972 state senate seats are up for re-election in November 2014, and 4,958 of the country's 5,415 state house seats are up for re-election. Altogether, 6,048 of the country's 7,387 state legislative seats are up for re-election on November 4, 2014.

Primary Information

See also: Signature requirements and deadlines for 2014 state legislative elections

The state legislative filing deadlines and primary dates are as follows:

Note: Ballot access is a complicated issue. The dates in the table below are primarily for candidates filing for access to the primary. For more detailed information about each state's qualification requirements -- including all relevant ballot access dates for the primary and general election -- click to our detailed pages in the state column.

2014 State Legislative Primary Information
State Filing Deadline Primary Date Days from Deadline to Primary
Alabama Red padlock.png 2/7/2014 Red padlock.png 6/3/2014 116
Alaska Red padlock.png 6/2/2014[22] Red padlock.png 8/19/2014 78
Arizona Red padlock.png 5/28/2014[23] Red padlock.png 8/26/2014 90
Arkansas Red padlock.png 3/3/2014[24][25] Red padlock.png 5/20/2014 78
California Red padlock.png 3/7/2014[26][27][28] Red padlock.png 6/3/2014 88
Colorado Red padlock.png 3/31/2014[29][30] Red padlock.png 6/24/2014 85
Connecticut Red padlock.png 6/10/2014[31] Red padlock.png 8/12/2014 90
Delaware Red padlock.png 7/8/2014 Red padlock.png 9/9/2014 63
Florida Red padlock.png 6/20/2014[32][33] Red padlock.png 8/26/2014 67
Georgia Red padlock.png 3/7/2014 Red padlock.png 5/20/2014 74
Hawaii Red padlock.png 6/3/2014[34] Red padlock.png 8/9/2014 67
Idaho Red padlock.png 3/14/2014 Red padlock.png 5/20/2014 78
Illinois Red padlock.png 12/2/2013 Red padlock.png 3/18/2014 106
Indiana Red padlock.png 2/7/2014 Red padlock.png 5/6/2014 88
Iowa Red padlock.png 3/14/2014 Red padlock.png 6/3/2014 81
Kansas Red padlock.png 6/2/2014 Red padlock.png 8/5/2014 65
Kentucky Red padlock.png 1/28/2014[35][36] Red padlock.png 5/20/2014 112
Maine Red padlock.png 3/17/2014[37] Red padlock.png 6/10/2014 85
Maryland Red padlock.png 2/25/2014[38] Red padlock.png 6/24/2014 119
Massachusetts Red padlock.png 6/3/2014[39] Red padlock.png 9/9/2014 98
Michigan Red padlock.png 4/22/2014 Red padlock.png 8/5/2014 105
Minnesota Red padlock.png 6/3/2014 Red padlock.png 8/12/2014 70
Missouri Red padlock.png 3/25/2014 Red padlock.png 8/5/2014 133
Montana Red padlock.png 3/10/2014 Red padlock.png 6/3/2014 85
Nebraska Red padlock.png 3/3/2014[40] Red padlock.png 5/13/2014 85
Nevada Red padlock.png 3/14/2014 Red padlock.png 6/10/2014 88
New Hampshire Red padlock.png 6/13/2014 Red padlock.png 9/9/2014 88
New Mexico Red padlock.png 2/4/2014 Red padlock.png 6/3/2014 119
New York Red padlock.png 7/10/2014 Red padlock.png 9/9/2014 61
North Carolina Red padlock.png 2/28/2014 Red padlock.png 5/6/2014 67
North Dakota Red padlock.png 4/7/2014 Red padlock.png 6/10/2014 64
Ohio Red padlock.png 2/5/2014 Red padlock.png 5/6/2014 90
Oklahoma Red padlock.png 4/11/2014 Red padlock.png 6/24/2014 74
Oregon Red padlock.png 3/11/2014 Red padlock.png 5/20/2014 70
Pennsylvania Red padlock.png 3/11/2014 Red padlock.png 5/20/2014 70
Rhode Island Red padlock.png 6/25/2014 Red padlock.png 9/9/2014 76
South Carolina Red padlock.png 3/30/2014 Red padlock.png 6/10/2014 72
South Dakota Red padlock.png 3/25/2014 Red padlock.png 6/3/2014 70
Tennessee Red padlock.png 4/3/2014 Red padlock.png 8/7/2014 126
Texas Red padlock.png 12/9/2013 Red padlock.png 3/4/2014 85
Utah Red padlock.png 3/20/2014 Red padlock.png 6/24/2014 96
Vermont Red padlock.png 6/12/2014 Red padlock.png 8/26/2014 75
Washington Red padlock.png 5/17/2014 Red padlock.png 8/5/2014 80
West Virginia Red padlock.png 1/25/2014 Red padlock.png 5/13/2014 108
Wisconsin Red padlock.png 6/2/2014 Red padlock.png 8/12/2014 71
Wyoming Red padlock.png 5/30/2014 Red padlock.png 8/19/2014 81

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See also: State legislative special elections, 2014

There are no special elections scheduled this week. The next special election will take place on July 22 in Connecticut.

Connecticut House of Representatives District 122

See also: Connecticut state legislative special elections, 2014

Ben McGorty (R) defeated Arlene Liscinsky (D) in the special election.[41][42]

The seat was vacant following Lawrence Miller's (R) death.[41]

A special election for the position of Connecticut House of Representatives District 122 has been called for July 22. Candidates were nominated by their party rather than chosen through a primary.[41]

Connecticut House of Representatives, District 122, Special Election, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngBen McGorty 75.3% 1,403
     Democratic Arlene Liscinsky 24.7% 459
Total Votes 1,862

Note: Results provided here are unofficial returns.[43]

July 22 Special election candidates:
Democratic Party Arlene Liscinsky
Republican Party Ben McGorty

Looking ahead

Upcoming special elections include:

  • August 5: Texas State Senate District 4 (Runoff)
  • August 19: Virginia State Senate District 38
  • November 4: Louisiana House of Representatives District 97

See also


  1. NY Times, "New York Leaders Reach Deal on Medical Marijuana," June 19, 2014
  2. Chron, "New York lawmakers agree on medical marijuana," June 19, 2014
  3. Newsday, "NY to legalize medical marijuana," June 19, 2014
  4. Drug Policy, "BREAKING: NY to Become 23rd Medical Marijuana State," June 19, 2014
  5. WBNG, "Medical marijuana legislation passed by State Assembly," June 20, 2014
  6. The Times-Tribune, "$153M Legislative surplus up for grabs," June 19, 2014
  7. NewsWorks, "Audit of Pa. Legislature recommends more centralized accounting," June 19, 2014
  8. The Daily Item, "Audit shows state legislative surplus grew by $14 million," June 18, 2014 (dead link)
  9. Associated Press, "Audit shows Pa. legislative surplus grew by $14M," June 18, 2014
  10. The Morning Call, "Legislature sitting on $154 million surplus," accessed June 19, 2014
  11. Pennsylvania Independent, "Despite budget struggles, General Assembly sitting on big cash," June 19, 2014
  12. The State, "SC House OKs $12,000 pay raise for lawmakers, overriding Gov. Haley's veto," June 17, 2014
  13. The Augusta Chronicle, "SC legislature upholds 22 of Haley's 76 budget vetoes," June 18, 2014
  14. The State, "SC ethics reform losing steam as clock runs out," June 18, 2014
  15. Enquirer Herald, "S.C. Legislature was surprisingly productive," June 18, 2014
  16. Go Upstate, "Ethics reform bill dies on last day of SC session," June 20, 2014 (dead link)
  17. Stateside Associates, " Session Calendar 2014," accessed June 23, 2014
  18. Stateside Associates, " Session Calendar 2014," accessed June 23, 2014
  19. Los Angeles Times, "Jerry Brown calls legislative special session to debate reserve plan," April 16, 2014
  20., "Virginia General Assembly returns for special session," March 23, 2014
  21. StateNet, " Daily Session Summary," accessed June 23, 2014
  22. Alaska Statutes, "Section 15.25, Nomination of Candidates," accessed October 31, 2013
  23. Secretary of State Website, "2014 Election Important Dates," accessed November 4, 2013
  24. Running for Public Office, "A 'Plain English' Handbook for Candidates," 2012 Edition, accessed October 21, 2013 (dead link)
  25. Arkansas Code of 1987, "Title 7, Elections," accessed October 30, 2013
  26. Summary of Qualifications and Requirements for the Office of State Senator, Member of the Assembly, "June 3, 2014, Primary Election," accessed October 21, 2013
  27. California Elections Code, "Section 8100-8107," accessed October 28, 2013
  28. California Secretary of State Website, "Key Dates and Deadlines," accessed October 21, 2013
  29. Colorado Secretary of State Website, "Major Political Parties FAQs," accessed October 31, 2013
  30. Colorado Revised Statutes, "Title 1, Elections," accessed October 31, 2013
  31. Connecticut Secretary of State Website, "Frequently Asked Questions, Nominating Papers," accessed October 31, 2013
  32. Florida Department of State Division of Elections, "2013-2014 Dates to Remember," accessed November 6, 2013
  33. 2013 Florida Statutes, "Section 99.061," accessed December 2, 2014
  34. Hawaii State Legislature, "HRS §12-6 Nomination papers: time for filing; fees", accessed May 22, 2013
  35. 2014 Kentucky Election Calendar, accessed November 12, 2013
  36. Kentucky State Board of Elections "Candidate Qualifications and Filing Fees" accessed November 26, 2011
  37. Maine Secretary of State "State of Maine 2014 Candidate's Guide to Ballot Access," accessed February 11, 2014
  38. The State Board of Elections, "Candidacy," accessed November 5, 2013
  39. 2014 Massachusetts State Primary and State Election Schedule, accessed December 2, 2013
  40. Official Election Calendar for the State of Nebraska, accessed November 18, 2014
  41. 41.0 41.1 41.2 Connecticut Post, "Slate set for special state House election," June 15, 2014
  42., "McGorty wins 122nd District seat," July 22, 2014
  43. Shelton Herald, "UPDATED: State rep special election results by polling place," July 23, 2014