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Cuomo delivers State of the State speech in Albany

Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered his annual State of the State address Wednesday in which he outlined his vision for progress in New York.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered his annual State of the State address Wednesday in which he outlined his vision for progress in New York while navigating a looming $6 billion budget shortfall.

Cuomo delivered his address at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in downtown Albany to an audience of members of the legislature and top politicians from around the state. The speech is a kickoff to a legislative session that runs through June 2.

The Governor has already announced 34 proposals he will address in his State of the State, and his office released a 321-page online book with details about what he discussed in Wednesday's address.

Flavored Vape Ban

As a means to stop kids and teens from using tobacco and vaping products, legislation would ban the sale of all flavored nicotine vaping products, including menthol. 

It would also restrict vaping related advertisements across all media platforms, banning ads targeted toward youth. Advertisers will need U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to make vaping product safety claims or to pitch vaping products and alternatives to cigarettes. 

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Gun Reforms

Currently, people are unable to get a gun license in New York State if they commit certain misdemeanors that are considered to be "serious offenses," but this only applies to people who have committed crimes in New York. Cuomo proposed a new law that would prohibit people from getting a gun license in New York if they committed a comparable misdemeanor in another state.

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Lowering Prescription Drug Costs

Cuomo plans to create a commission to investigate the potential benefits of importing prescription drugs from Canada.  

The plan also includes a proposal to cap insulin co-payments at $100 a month for people who are insured. Cuomo also wants to let the state Department of Financial Services investigate spikes in prescription drug prices.   

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High-Speed Rail

The Governor said he wants to work with outside experts to examine the state's high-speed rail strategy. The plan involves a panel of engineers to look at past high-speed rail projects and "rethink every assumption and method."

"High-speed rail is transforming economies around the world. We've been told that bringing this technology to our state is too expensive, too difficult and would take too long - that's not an acceptable attitude for New York," Cuomo said in the press release. 

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North Aud Block

The proposed plans would incorporate the area's history, add 200 residential units, restaurants and retail shops, as well as adding 300 parking spots. 

The area, which is bordered by Lower Terrace to the north, Main Street to the east, the canals to the south and Commercial and Pearl streets to the west,  will include pedestrian paths and an open piazza.

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Erie Canal Corridor

The initial phase of the plan amounts to $165 million. It calls for improvements to the fishing habitat and public fishing access in streams in Niagara, Orleans and Monroe counties and various development projects in Central New York . 

The first phase also calls for a Brockport Loop to connect the SUNY Brockport campus to the Empire State Trail and the village.

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Styrofoam Ban

Governor Andrew Cuomo is proposing a ban on polystyrene (commonly called Styrofoam) food and beverage containers in New York State. 

The proposal also includes banning Styrofoam packing peanuts.

Cuomo's proposal to ban these items in New York by 2022 would also prohibit the retail sale of polystyrene cups and plates to consumers.

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Alcohol in Movie Theaters

The change would make it easier to allow beer and wine sales at movie theaters, along with the sale of cider, mead and spirits, according to his office.  

Movie theaters under current law can only sell alcohol if they have full kitchens and tables inside screening rooms, according to Cuomo's office. His office says the change would give craft producers more retail outlets and provide more revenue for theaters. 

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It isn’t clear whether Cuomo will use his speech to address the potential legalization of recreational marijuana. Legalization proposals stalled last year in New York amid hesitation from Long Island Democrats and disagreements over how to spend revenue from sales of the drug. 

It also isn’t clear whether the governor will use the speech to address a mounting debate over whether the state should revisit bail reforms enacted just last year.

Some prosecutors and law enforcement officials have warned that the new rules, which prevent money bail and pretrial detention for a wide majority of low-level cases and nonviolent felonies, could lead to dangerous people being freed from jail while awaiting trial.

The political battle has intensified in the last week as New York judges have released people who would have remained behind bars under the old rules.

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Other proposals include plans for expanding anti-discrimination protections in the state constitution, an overhaul for New York City’s Penn Station, require the use of American-made steel and iron on infrastructure projects and ease rules for prosecuting sexual assault involving intoxicated victims, among other initiatives. 

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