06/20/14 4:02pm
06/20/2014 4:02 PM
Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders announced an agreement yesterday on a bill to establish medical marijuana. (Credit: Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office)

Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders announced an agreement yesterday on a bill to establish medical marijuana. (Credit: Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office)

New York State is on track to become the 23rd state in the country to allow the sale of medical marijuana. State Senators passed a measure Friday afternoon, the Assembly did the same Thursday night and Gov. Andrew Cuomo is poised to sign the bill.

North Fork representatives Ken LaValle and Anthony Palumbo split  on the measure, with Mr. Lavalle (R-Port Jefferson) opposing the bill today and Mr. Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) voting in favor last night. (more…)

05/17/14 12:00pm
05/17/2014 12:00 PM
Bailie Beach in Mattituck (Credit: Carrie Miller File)

Bailie Beach in Mattituck (Credit: Carrie Miller File)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is hosting a number of meetings to better understand groundwater resource needs in Nassau and Suffolk counties, in hopes of developing a wastewater management plan for the region.

On Monday, state and local officials, environmental and business leaders and researchers will be on hand discuss issues related to wastewater, septic systems and possible future solutions.

The meeting will be held from noon to 4 p.m. at Stony Brook University’s Charles B. Wang Center, according to a statement from the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Representatives from the DEC , Stony Brook University, the Town of Southampton, Environmental Facilities Corporation and the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery are expected to speak.

The plan’s goal will be to increase resiliency against future storms, improve water quality and provide additional protections for Long Island’s groundwater resources, according to the release.

On May 28, discussion will be opened up to the public for an evening meeting. The public can also submit written comments at Monday’s meetings or by emailing liwaterquality@gw.dec.state.ny.us.

Information on where the May 28 meeting will be held has not yet been released.

A final meeting scheduled for June will present recommendations on how to address wastewater and septic problems to Mr. Cuomo, the release states.

03/11/14 10:00am
03/11/2014 10:00 AM
Governor Andrew Cuomo. (Credit: NYS Executive Chamber, courtesy file)

Governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday new Common Core implementation recommendations doesn’t include slowing down or halting teacher evaluations. (Credit: NYS Executive Chamber, courtesy file)

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Monday his newly formed Common Core Implementation Panel has released its preliminary recommendations on how the the state could improve rolling out new academic standards within New York public schools.

(more…)

03/05/14 8:00am
03/05/2014 8:00 AM
Talmage Farm Agway worker Rachel Harrison-Smith with a customer last week in Riverhead. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

Talmage Agway worker Rachel Harrison-Smith with a customer in Riverhead. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

Water quality advocates are up in arms over Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to roll back a 1996 law that requires commercial users of pesticides to report information to the state. Instead, the governor is looking to “streamline” pesticide tracking by keeping tabs on sales.

Advocates statewide are saying the existing law should be strengthened, not revoked.

The Pesticide Reporting Law, which was spearheaded by Assemblyman Steven Englebright (D-Setauket), requires pesticide applicators such as landscapers and exterminators, to report to the state Department of Environmental Conservation each year, outlining exactly when, where and the type of pesticides they had used. It also requires large distributors who sell restricted pesticides to private users, such as farmers, to report similar information.

Mr. Cuomo wants to restructure that reporting system — requiring all retailers that sell pesticides, right down to the nearby hardware corner, to report their sales from major distributors — with the aim of getting an even better understanding of pesticide use within the state, according to an executive budget proposal.

The proposal, according to Mr. Cuomo’s office, would have the added benefit of tracking residential use, not just commercial.

But in a letter to state legislators, signed by representatives from 40 different environmental and heath advocacy groups, including Group for the East End, the North Fork Environmental Council, and the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York, the advocates called the change “grossly inadequate and represents a significant step back in the right-to-know principle that people expect.”

The 1996 law, championed in part by Long Island breast cancer advocacy groups, was meant to provide transparency in chemical use on Long Island — so researchers could better understand how pesticides might impact human illness, according to the letter signed by advocacy groups.

The information on chemical uses collected under the law was then compiled by the state DEC, and released publicly in an annual report — providing the public, researchers, and health professionals with information on chemicals being used within their communities, according to past reports.

Richard Amper, the executive director of the Long Island Pine Barrens, an environmental advocacy group, said the potential move would take away the public’s ability to see exactly where chemicals are being used, during a time when researchers are still trying to better understand such pesticides’ affects on water quality.

“You would not want to lose those information on those specific sites and uses,” Mr. Amper said.

But the last annual report was completed in 2005, according to the state DEC website, which also noted that there were “concerns regarding the quality of the data received from the regulated community.”

DEC officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Environmentalists say a strengthened law, improving the quality of the information applicators must report, would provide data not just for health studies, but also for agricultural, ecological, water and air quality research — which often goes on to be used in creating public policy at local, state, and national levels.

While large distributors may be used to reporting such information — since they have to do so under the current law — for smaller retailers, it could mean added paperwork and overhead, said Bill Van Schaick, manager of Talmage Farm Agway in Riverhead.

“The burden is just being shifted from users in the industry to the retailers who provide them with their products,” he said. “I understand the point behind it, we want pesticides to be used responsibly and we all want to protect the environment — but they are putting all that burden on us.”

Mr. Van Schaick said depending on what retailers will be required to report, it could ultimately mean a reduction in the number of options a store could offer to its customers.

“We may look to cut down the number of items we offer,” he said. “It may be easier to track 300 items, rather than 1,000 items.”

cmiller@timesreview.com

02/11/14 12:00pm
02/11/2014 12:00 PM
Education commissioner John King and state Board of Regents Meryl Tisch at a Common Core forum in November. (Carrie Miller file photo)

NYS education commissioner John King and state Board of Regents Meryl Tisch at a Common Core forum in November. (Carrie Miller file photo)

The appointed body that crafts public education polices for schools in New York State announced Monday it will be delaying tougher, Common Core-aligned high school graduation requirements by five years.
(more…)

02/08/14 12:00pm
02/08/2014 12:00 PM

Senator John Flanagan addresses superintendents and other educators at Saturday morning’s annual Regional Legislative Breakfast at Longwood Middle School. (Michael White photo)

With concerns pouring in from parents, teachers, and students over the implementation of the Common Core Standards initiative in New York State, Governor Andrew Cuomo on Friday announced the formation of a panel to review the rollout of the standards within the state. (more…)