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Senate

A demonstration is done at King Kullen in Patchogue, showing how to use the drug take-back dropbox added through the Department of Environmental Conservation’s pilot program that started last year. File photo from Adrianne Esposito

By Desirée Keegan

New York is taking another step toward ridding our community and our homes of dangerous drugs.

The state Assembly passed the Drug Take Back Act June 20 following the Senate’s passage of the bill the night before, which will establish a statewide program to provide free, safe pharmaceutical disposal
for unused or expired medications.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers, rather than the taxpayers, will foot the entire bill for implementing the program. Chain pharmacies will be required to provide free drug take-back sites, while other authorized collectors, like independent pharmacies and local lawenforcement, will have the option to participate.

“This landmark law makes New York a national leader in addressing the opioid crisis and protecting our waters from pharmaceutical pollution,” said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, applauding state Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City) and Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther (D-Middletown). “[They] have stood up for clean water, public health and New York taxpayers over the special interests of the multibillion-dollar pharmaceutical industry.

This drug take-back legislation is the best in the nation and we believe it will be adopted by other states. The cost to the pharmaceutical industry will be negligible — communities that have passed similar laws estimated a cost of just a couple pennies per prescription.”

This legislation ensures all New Yorkers will have convenient access to safe drug disposal options. Making safe disposal options accessible to the public will reduce what officials described as the harmful
and antiquated practice of flushing unwanted drugs. Drugs that are flushed are polluting waters from the Great Lakes to Long Island Sound, threatening aquatic life, water quality and drinking water.

“A lack of options to safely dispose of unused drugs is contributing to the national drug abuse epidemic that is now the leading cause of injury and death in the U.S., ahead of car accidents,” said Andrew Radin, chair of the New York Product Stewardship Council and recycling director for Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency. “Deaths from drug overdoses and chronic drug abuse in New York state have increased 71 percent between 2010 and 2015.”

More than 2,000 people in New York die annually from opioid overdose, and 70 percent of people that abuse prescription drugs get them from friends and family, according to the Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

“The Drug Take Back Act will save lives by stopping prescription drug abuse at its source,” Radin said.

A coalition of environmental, public health and product stewardship organizations praised Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and the state Department of Environmental Conservation for a recently released report, called “The Feasibility of Creating and Implementing a Statewide Pharmaceutical Stewardship Program in New York State,” which called for the disposal program to be funded by the pharmaceutical industry. Cuomo asked for the report when he vetoed what he called a poorly crafted disposal bill that passed the legislature last year.

“Safe drug disposal options will help save lives by getting leftover prescription drugs out of household medicine cabinets, where they are often stockpiled and abused,” Esposito said. “We now look forward to seeing the governor sign this critical bill into law.”

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would reduce the number of income tax brackets from seven to four; eliminate deductions for state and local income taxes; and would reduce the corporate tax rate from 35 to 20 percent. Stock photo

By Alex Petroski

Last week Republicans in the House of Representatives took a major step toward fulfilling a lynchpin campaign promise that is seemingly decades old.

The House Ways and Means committee released the framework of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Nov. 2, a major piece of legislation touted by President Donald Trump (R) as a cut to income taxes for “hardworking, middle-income Americans,” though it would negatively affect New Yorkers if signed into law, according to lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle.

The highlights of the bill, which would require passage by the House and Senate and the president’s signature before becoming law, include a consolidation from seven individual income tax brackets down to four; the elimination of the deduction for state and local income taxes, a provision that in the past through federal tax returns gave a portion of tax dollars back to individuals in higher income tax states like New York; and a reduction of the corporate tax rate from 35 to 20 percent.

“I am a ‘No’ to this bill in its current form,” 1st Congressional District U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) said in a statement. “We need to fix this state and local tax [SALT] deduction issue. Adding back in the property tax deduction up to $10,000 is progress, but not enough progress. If I’m not fighting for New Yorkers, I can’t expect anyone else from another state to do it for me.”

U.S. Rep. for the 2nd District, Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), was even more critical of the bill than Zeldin.

“The goal of tax reform is to help hard-working Americans make more money so they can live the American Dream,” Suozzi said in a statement. “The American people expect us to find a bipartisan solution to tax reform that helps create good paying middle-class jobs. This plan doesn’t achieve that goal. I won’t support it.”

Other New York lawmakers from the Democratic Party voiced harsh opposition to the bill in its current form.

New York’s U.S. senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) and Chuck Schumer (D-New York) each said via Twitter they viewed the bill as a tax break for corporations that would have a negative impact on middle-class citizens. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) called the bill a “tax increase plan.”

“The tax reform plan, they call a tax cut plan,” Cuomo said in a statement. “It has a diabolical dimension, which is the elimination of the deductibility of state and local taxes … what makes it an even more gross injustice is, the state of New York contributes more to the federal government than any other state. New York contributes more to Washington than any other state. We’re the No. 1 donor state. We give $48 billion more than we get back. Why you would want to take more from New York is a gross, gross injustice.”

Duncan MacKenzie, chief executive officer of the New York State Association of Realtors said in a statement the bill would harm many New York homeowners.

“It will lessen the value of the property tax deduction and it cuts a host of other key housing-related tax incentives,” he said.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization founded in the 1980s and dedicated to educating the public on issues with significant fiscal policy impact, estimated the bill would result in a $1.5 trillion increase to the national deficit.

Mark Snyder of Mark J. Snyder Financial Services, a Hauppauge-based personal financial planning and management firm, called the bill a “torpedo aimed at the wallets of Long Islanders” in an email. He also pointed to the elimination of the SALT deduction as clear evidence the bill would harm New Yorkers.

“As a representative from New York, I’d kick this bill to the curb,” he said when asked what he would do if he were tasked with voting on the bill.

Legislator William Spencer during the phone bank last weekend. Photo from Eve Meltzer Krief

Several Huntington doctors used an unusual tool this past weekend to abide by their sworn oath to do no harm — their phones — in an effort to deter passage of the Better Care Reconciliation Act, the U.S. Senate’s answer to the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.

Physicians working throughout the town gathered to participate in a phone bank, calling residents in other states to try and encourage them to call their senators and protest the bill.

“The most important thing we can do right now is focus on a few key senators who will make or break this bill,” physician Eve Meltzer Krief said in a phone interview. “Senators want to hear from constituents so we’re talking to the constituents themselves. The people we spoke with this past weekend were overwhelmingly against the bill but weren’t calling their senators.”

The doctors called out of a pediatric office in Huntington and focused on West Virginia residents where U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R) presides and had not yet declared if she would support the bill.

“When we call as physicians people listen,” Krief said. “We explain that we’re concerned, and we didn’t have one person hang up on us. Everyone listened to what we had to say. Doctors generally don’t get involved politically — I never have in my life — but this [bill] is definitely the wrong direction for American health care.”

For Suffolk County Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport), this event hit closer to home, as he was born and raised in West Virginia. His father was a schoolteacher in Welch, West Virginia.

Spencer said for West Virginia citizens, health care coverage is extremely vital, especially for residents who rely on Medicaid. So if the Senate’s bill is passed and Medicaid funding is cut, people there will suffer.

“The life expectancy here in Long Island is 82 years old and in West Virginia it’s 62 years old,” he said in a phone interview. “That’s the life span of a third-world country — for a place about 500 miles away from us.”

Spencer said most people he spoke to said they would call their senator after he spoke with them.

“This was very personal for me,” he said. “Most people there are going about their daily lives trying to make ends meet, and they aren’t thinking about what their officials are voting on.”

The legislator and Huntington-based doctor said he felt inspired after participating in the phone bank.

“I felt that I was making a difference not only for the people in West Virginia but also for my constituents in Suffolk County,” he said.

Although the Senate announced late Monday night they no longer had the votes to bring the health care bill to the floor, as two more Republican senators announced they would not support it, that does not mean the effort to change the current system was defeated.

“I was pleased and relieved to hear that two more senators pulled out of the bill and it was dead,” Dr. Kristin Bruning, a Huntington-based child psychiatrist who also participated in the phone bank said in a phone interview. “But when I woke up the next morning and heard about the repeal … I am very concerned.”

U.S. Sen. and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) said he now plans for the Senate to vote for a repeal alone and worry about a replacement later on.

“It feels like it’s just a desperate effort to do anything to annihilate the Affordable Care Act without careful planning,” Bruning said. “I worry that will throw the insurance industry into more disarray.”

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini testifies before the U.S. Senate committee May 24. Image from Department of Homeland Security website

By Kevin Redding

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini took his crusade against MS-13 gangs to Capitol Hill this morning, calling on the federal government to further join in the fight.

Sini testified May 24 before the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs in Washington D.C. regarding the impact of MS-13 gang activity on local communities in a hearing entitled “Border Insecurity: The Rise of MS-13 and Other Transnational Criminal Organizations.”

Despite historic reductions in crimes in Suffolk County since last year, Sini said, there’s been an increase in gang violence connected to MS-13.

According to U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), chairman of the committee, the mission of the hearing was “to highlight these problems within our government agency, within our government laws and procedures, to make the public aware [and] lay out a reality so we can actually enact public policy to combat it and keep this homeland safe.”

Suffolk County has gained national attention after high profile murder investigations connected to the gang and a visit from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) to speak on the topic earlier in May.

Sini, speaking alongside Det. Scott Conley of the Chelsea Police Gang Unit in Massachusetts and Chief J. Thomas Manger of Montgomery County Police in Maryland, outlined ways in which the federal government could assist local governments and better stamp out the escalation of gang activity. Some of Sini’s notable quotes from the testimony are below:

  • More federal prosecutors should be provided to arraign RICO cases, designed to combat organized crime in the United States, against Ms-13 gang members. “If the Suffolk County Police department could launch a pilot program in collaboration with the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s office whereby every MS-13 arrest could be screened for possible federal prosecution — taking dangerous individuals off our streets, and generate incentives for defendants who cooperate with law enforcement.”
  • Intelligence sharing among law enforcement agencies throughout the country should be improved. “A singular database with information relating to identified MS-13 gang members would encourage multi-jurisdictional operations and allow departments to be more proactive in targeting MS-13 gang members in our communities.”
  • Additional funding for community-based gang prevention and intervention programs tied directly to the number of unaccompanied children from other countries, who are most susceptible to gang recruitment, in local communities.
  • Improvements should be made to the unaccompanied children program, including increased screening and monitoring of sponsors and post-placement services.

Since January 2016, Sini explained to committee members Johnson and U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri), out of the 45 homicides in Suffolk County, 17 of those are believed to be linked to MS-13 gangs and approximately 400 identified MS-13 gang members are active in the county.

The commissioner has rolled out aggressive gang eradication strategies within the police department since becoming commissioner in 2016 to target particular communities where the gang is most active, like Brentwood, and stamp out the activities of its members. The strategy has led to 200 MS-13 arrests, Sini said.

In March, in collaboration with the FBI’s Long Island Safe Streets Task Force, the department arrested four gang members tied to the killings of Nisa Mickens, 15, and Kayla Cuevas, 16, Brentwood High School students beaten to death for “disrespecting the gang.” But, Sini said, it’s not enough.

“We recognize that our targeted enforcement and enhanced patrols will not alone lead to the eradication of gangs from our neighborhoods — MS-13 preys on our most vulnerable and if we do not provide the structure for these young people, MS-13 will,” Sini said.

The commissioner said the gang members in Suffolk County are predominantly male, between the ages 16 and 29, many of whom hold wage-paying jobs, differentiating themselves from other gangs.

“MS-13 often engages in violence for the sake of violence to increase notoriety of the gang and cause communities to fear the gang and its members,” Sini said.

A copy of the plaque that Shoreham Town Hall and homeowners of suffrage movement homes will receive to serve as markers along the Suffrage Trail. Photo by Kevin Redding

Long Island women who cast their votes this past election have a nearby town to thank.

Shoreham, an epicenter of women’s rights activism in the years leading up to the passing of the 19th Amendment in 1920, will be the first stop on a planned trail that will trace the rich history of the women’s suffrage movement on Long Island.

In recognition of this, an enthusiastic group of local leaders, community members and dignitaries packed into the Shoreham Village Hall April 1 to witness the official establishment of the Long Island Suffrage Trail.

Coline Jenkins, the great great granddaughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton — a leading figure whose “Declaration of Sentiments” in 1848 served as the foundation on which all women’s rights movements ever since were built — speaks during the ceremony. Photo by Kevin Redding

The ambitious project will allow residents to visit different sites across the region that have a history with the women’s suffrage movement.

The plan is that, in a few years’ time, a map of these marked sites will be available at public libraries and rest stops so people can embark on a history tour in their own backyard.

At home base is Elizabeth Cady Stanton — a leading figure whose “Declaration of Sentiments” in 1848 served as the foundation on which all women’s rights movements ever since were built — and several generations of her family.

“We wanted to start a trail in the most auspicious place we could and, we decided, there’s no better place than Shoreham,” said Nancy Mion, vice president of the Islip branch of the American Association of University Women, the organization behind the trail.

“We’re so fortunate that on Long Island, in Shoreham, we are a hotbed of people involved in the movement,” she said. “If we’re going to start, we might as well start at the top … and after years of dreaming and hoping, it’s real. We’re going to educate individuals and continue the history of women. We’re very proud.”

It was in 2012 that Mion and fellow AAUW members, including its president Susan Furfaro, first got the ball rolling on the project.

At the organization’s New York State convention, Coline Jenkins, the great-great-granddaughter of Stanton and a municipal legislator, proposed a challenge to the branch to investigate historical events of the movement and set up a local trail.

Jenkins herself gave a testimony in 2009 before the U.S. Senate that contributed to the creation of a suffrage trail at the national level.

Members of the Islip branch soon delved into back issues of Suffolk County newspapers as well as old publications and documents, and wound up setting their sights on Shoreham, with the help of the town’s historian Mimi Oberdorf.

The group got a surprise recently when it received a metro grant from its organization, the money from which will fund plaques and markers to be installed at the trail’s historic sites.

“We’ll be applying for the grants each year, so if we can average two to three sites a year, in six years, we’ll have enough to make a map and that’ll be when we’ll finally have a complete trail,” Furfaro said.

Event attendees listen to speakers discuss the importance of Shoreham during the suffrage movement. Photo by Kevin Redding

The first four plaques made were presented at the ceremony, one to be hung inside village hall and the other three to be hung outside nearby homes that were occupied at one time by Stanton and her relatives.

Shoreham Mayor Edward Weiss, who accepted the plaque on behalf of the village — which deemed Shoreham “the summer capital of the suffrage movement” — said he was honored by the recognition. The plaque will hang at the entrance of the building. The specific spot where it’s to be installed had been decorated by a paper version for the time being.

“Our thinking is that if you’re going to honor us with the unveiling of this plaque today, we should at the same time honor you by unveiling what will be its — or should I say, her — permanent location,” he said to Mion and Furfaro, who were dressed in Victorian clothing and wore large “Votes For Women” ribbons.

Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) took to the podium to congratulate the town and thank Stanton and all those involved in the suffrage movement.

“Were it not for Susan B. Anthony [and Stanton] I would not be able to have my role as council representative today,” Bonner said. “How fortunate and blessed are women in the United States to have the right to vote and hold office today? I do believe, one day, in our lifetime, we will have a female president.”

Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) echoed Bonner’s sentiments, adding women still have a lot for which to fight.

“When I was young, we were taught to be quiet, to listen, to do what we were told, and not go and conquer our dreams,” Anker said. “We need to change that, and I see here today that we are changing that. We need to continue to support our girls.”

State Sen. Ken LaValle will build on 40 years of service with another term. File photo by Barbara Donlon
State Sen. Ken LaValle will build on 40 years of service with another term. File photo by Barbara Donlon

Voters in the first senatorial district have two excellent candidates to choose from on Election Day. Incumbent Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) was first elected to the New York State Senate in 1976 and has been re-elected 19 times since.  He prides himself on being one of its most productive legislators in terms of bill introduction, bills that pass the Senate and bills that go on to pass both houses. He calls this a record of “relevancy” and we agree. He works hard for our district, understands its problems and thinks there’s more he can do — especially in combatting the heroin/opioid addiction crisis and increasing environmental protections.

His challenger, Gregory Fischer (D) has some interesting ideas and brings the perspective of a business background to his analysis of the issues facing the district and the state. A self-professed reformer, he believes that the Senate needs new blood — and more specifically, blood of the Democratic persuasion.

We endorse Senator LaValle for a 20th term because we believe he has done great work for his constituents and will continue to do so for another two years. His seniority in a body that rewards it, makes him an even more powerful advocate for our interests.

Greg Fischer, left, and incumbent State Sen. Ken LaValle, right, will compete to represent New York’s 1st Senate District. Photos by Alex Petroski

Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) has been a New York State senator for nearly four decades, and although he’s joked about retirement, he doesn’t plan on vacating the position just yet. That won’t stop Democratic challenger Greg Fischer from trying to unseat him Nov. 8.

According to a 2015 New York Public Interest Research Group Report, LaValle was ranked second of 63 legislators in words said on the Senate floor, second in bill introduction, fourth in those that passed the senate and second in those that passed both houses.

“It’s a record of relevancy that I think is pretty good,” LaValle said in an interview at TBR News Media’s main office when the combatants sat down to discuss their campaigns.

LaValle said he’s excited for the chance to amend the East End’s Community Preservation Fund, which is responsible for the preservation of more than 3,000 acres of vacant land on Eastern Long Island and also improves parcels of historic, recreational and environmental value. He also noted the $400 million in construction going on at Stony Brook University Hospital that will produce jobs for doctors, clerks and others.

Fischer is a business consultant who has a passion for economics, he said, and he sees the economy as the “most important issue of our day, especially for the district.”

“We’re constantly on this treadmill of tax and spend, tax and spend,” he said. “And even though I’m a Democrat and you hear Democrats labeled for that, my background is in business and my background is to find the best value.”

The candidates are in support of the two percent tax levy increase cap for property owners as a means to curb government overspending, though Fischer said he isn’t sure the policy goes far enough. “It’s only applying the brakes gently — it’s not fixing the problem,” he said.

Fischer is running on the mantra: “It’s time for a turnaround.” His platform is about reform, which he said would be a product of his background. He’s not a lawyer like many other legislators.

Fischer said he thinks new blood and a democratic representative are needed to be able to better address not just the district’s issues, but statewide issues.

“There’s so much we can do, but we’re moving so slowly,” he said. “I think that’s the danger. We all know where we’re headed. People want to move out of state. Students want to be accepted out of state so they can stay out of state.”

To combat that mentality, LaValle said he’s been conducting research on millennials, regarding whether or not they want to be homebuyers or renters, or drive a car as their primary means of transportation. LaValle co-sponsored legislation to allow municipalities to continue tax exceptions for first-time homebuyers of newly constructed homes as an incentive. He is also a supporter of New York State’s School Tax Relief Program, which lowers property taxes for owner-occupied primary residences. As chairman of the Higher Education Committee, LaValle said he’s also trying to address how to minimize millennial debt.

Fischer said he’s a proponent of free tuition for Suffolk County and New York State residents.

Fisher has run unsuccessful campaigns for Riverhead Town and local school board offices. He previously sued the Long Island Power Authority and conducted his own audits of Riverhead school district. More recently, he filed a lawsuit claiming Stony Brook University named its football stadium for LaValle after he secured $22 million in state funds for the venue’s construction, stating in his notice of claim that “It is ludicrous for sitting legislators (seeking re-election or otherwise) to have public structures named for them for the de facto benefit of their personal political careers.” Fischer asked LaValle’s name be removed from both the Nov. 8 ballot and the stadium. The arena was opened and named after LaValle in 2002.

Fischer said another issue he’d like to address is corruption in the courtroom, and added he’d like to see cameras allowed in state courtrooms.

“I think there needs to be more scrutiny of the judicial process,” he said. “We have a huge problem with corruption. There have been a lot of problems where the transcripts are changed after the fact, and things happen that are problematic.”

Fischer also said he believes legislation takes too long in New York, and cited response to the growing opioid abuse issue as an example. While LaValle said it’s his No. 1 priority — adding that many of his colleagues say the same — he believes increased penalties for dealers could put a dent in that problem.

Fischer said he understands enforcement sells, but added it’s only part of the solution.

“Of course we have to do some more enforcement, but it’s a mental health issue,” he said. “We have reasons for people doing these drugs — even in the suburbs — it’s despair. By the time you’re detecting use, you’ve already got a real problem going on. We have to have a whole new way of thinking about deterrence and really scaring children into the reality that, as a first use, you could have a dependency for life.”

State Sen. John Flanagan. File photo

Lawmakers are stepping up in the fight against synthetic drugs, and one North Shore official said it was a major milestone in a personal initiative to combat abuse.

State Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) joined with Senate Majority Coalition leaders and the Independent Democratic Conference leader Jeff Klein (D-Bronx) to help pass a package of bills that aims to prevent the abuse of deadly synthetic drugs. In a statement, Flanagan said the drugs have become more prevalent across Long Island because their effects are similar to other known hallucinogens or narcotics. But their chemical structures, Flanagan said, are slightly altered, making it more difficult to restrict them.

“The spread of synthetic drugs is affecting every community and will continue to destroy lives unless more preventive action is taken,” Flanagan said. “For five years, I have sponsored legislation that has passed the Senate on numerous occasions so that we can hold criminals accountable for the creation of new and dangerous drugs that evade our current laws. It is past time for the Assembly to join us and help put an end to synthetic drugs today.”

If the Senate bill passes, the state would zero in on the sale of the synthetic drugs known as K2, Alpha-PVP and others similar to them, by creating criminal penalties for possession and sale. The Department of Health would have to maintain an electronic database of known synthetic cannabinoids, listing their compounds, a description of products and their street names, lawmakers said. The legislation would also amend the Controlled Substances Act to add analogous drugs, Flanagan said.

With support from the Senate Majority Coalition and Klein, who heads the Independent Democratic Conference, lawmakers released a report called “The State of Synthetics: A Review of the Synthetic Cannabinoid Drug Problem in New York and Solutions on Ending the Epidemic” earlier this year. The report found that New York taxpayers fronted roughly $22.7 million to respond to what Flanagan called a public health crisis in 2015.

“We must KO K2 from upstate to downstate, and the Senate will send a strong message that synthetic drugs will not be tolerated in our state,” Klein said. “My analog bill will ensure that New York keeps ahead of the chemists’ curve and will ban chemicals that mimic controlled substances as they are tweaked, so the law can no longer be subverted. Now, the Assembly must take action to protect the citizens of New York State.”

New law requires all smoke alarms sold in New York to operate on batteries that function for a decade

State Sen. John Flanagan. File photo

This time, the batteries are included.

State legislation aiming to address fire safety for New York families was signed into law this week, requiring every smoke alarm sold be equipped with a nonremovable, nonreplaceable battery that powers the device for a minimum of 10 years. State Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) heralded the new law he sponsored as a protective measure against house fires.

In a statement, the senator said the law would help ensure that smoke alarms are operational for a longer period of time and hopefully save lives. Since smoke alarms were first mandated in the state back in 1961, Flanagan said that deaths due to fire have been cut in half, but most deaths due to fire today happen in homes with either no smoke alarm or a nonfunctioning one. Under the new law, Flanagan said, homeowners can be protected from dangerous fires for a longer period of time without constant maintenance.

“Too many families in our state have suffered the loss of a loved one due to a fire emergency, and this new law is aimed at protecting New Yorkers from this pain,” Flanagan said. “The data is crystal clear in how essential smoke detectors are in saving lives.”

Over the operational life of the average smoke alarm, the new law could also potentially save homeowners money by eliminating the need for replacement batteries every six months, Flanagan said. After the 10-year operational time period of the device, a new smoke alarm device would need to be purchased as a replacement.

Firemen’s Association of the State of New York President Robert McConville said lawmakers, including Flanagan, have taken big steps to keep New York families safe.

“We would like to thank State Sen. John Flanagan for his leadership on this critical issue. Simply put, his efforts in passing this legislation will help save lives in New York State,” he said. “We’ve seen time and again that working smoke alarms can be the difference between life and death. Together, State Sen. Flanagan, Assemblyman Joseph Morelle (D-Irondequoit), and N.Y. Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) have succeeded in making New York a safer place to live.”

The new law will go into effect in April 2019, once an agreed-upon chapter amendment between the Governor, the Senate and the Assembly is approved.

It will not apply to devices which have been ordered or that are in inventory when the law goes into effect. It will not impact devices that are powered through electrical systems, fire alarm systems with smoke alarms, fire alarm devices that connect to a panel or other devices with low-power radio frequency wireless communication signal.

Additionally, the upcoming amendment will provide the state fire administrator, through its regulatory process, the ability to designate other devices that are exempt from the legislation.

“It is critical that all homeowners who do purchase these devices in our state are able to trust them for a full decade,” Flanagan said. “The goal is to help New Yorkers protect their homes and their families, and this legislation is a great step in that effort.”

A local effort to ban a popular ingredient in beauty products has support on the federal level.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman visited Long Island recently to announce the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015, a bipartisan federal bill that would ban cosmetics containing plastic pellets called microbeads, which are frequently smaller than 1 millimeter in diameter and are found in face washes, shampoos, beauty products and other soaps.

Because of their size, most wastewater treatment systems are unable to filter out the microbeads, so they are released into local waterways like the Long Island Sound. But microbeads accumulate toxins in the water, and fish and birds ingest them. Public health could be at risk if the fish are reeled in and eaten.

Schneiderman reported that about 19 tons of the small pellets pass through New York wastewater treatment plants each year.

Gillibrand’s bill has sponsors and co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle, most of them from the Midwest, according to a press release from the senator’s office. It is similar to a New York state-level bill of the same name, which is Schneiderman’s effort to prohibit the sale and distribution of products containing microbeads.

“These tiny pieces of plastic have already caused significant ecological damage to New York’s waterways,” Gillibrand said, “and they will continue to do so until they are removed from the marketplace.”

The state bill passed the Assembly in the last session but was not put up for a vote in the Senate, despite having more co-sponsors than the number of votes it would have needed to pass.

New York is not alone in pushing to ban microbeads — Illinois has already given them the axe, and other states are considering similar legislation.

Many local residents first heard about the issue when Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) led her colleagues to passing a law that required the county to study how a microbead ban would affect health and the economy.

She commended officials for their anti-microbead effort on the national stage.

“The threat posed by microbead waste is of national consequence,” Hahn said in the press release. “The cumbersome task of tackling this issue [from] municipality to municipality and state to state will never prove as effective as a federal approach.”

Adrienne Esposito, the executive director of the local Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said there are other effective alternatives to microbeads, such as apricot shells, salt and oatmeal.

“The public expects facial soaps and toothpaste to clean our face and teeth, not pollute our waters,” Esposito said. “Plastic microbeads pollute our waters, contaminate our fish and shellfish, and could end up back on our dinner plates. They are completely unnecessary.”

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