Suffolk Legislature meetings reopening to in-person public attendance

The Rose Caracappa Auditorium inside the William H. Rogers Legislature Building at 725 Veterans Memorial Highway in Smithtown.

HAUPPAUGE, NY (OnSachem.com / OnTownMedia.com) — As the pandemic slows and more residents are vaccinated, the Suffolk County Legislature will reopen meetings to in-person public attendance starting Tuesday, June 1.

“Now that we are turning a corner in this pandemic, we are thrilled to be able to welcome the public back into the Suffolk County Legislature’s Hauppauge building,” said Suffolk County Legislature Presiding Officer Rob Calarco. “We have slowly and safely been bringing more and more legislators back to the horseshoe in our auditorium, and now, the public will be able to attend legislature committee and general meetings in person. Bit by bit, we are regaining semblances of normalcy thanks to more and more people getting vaccinated and declining numbers of new COVID-19 cases.”

The meetings are held in the William H. Rogers Legislature Building at 725 Veterans Memorial Highway in Smithtown, just a short distance west of the county's main offices at the H Lee Dennison Building in Hauppaugue.

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In accordance with county and state safety protocols, members of the public who wish to attend a legislative meeting in-person will undergo temperature checks. Visitors who are vaccinated against COVID-19 and who are willing to provide proof of vaccination, if requested, will not be required to wear a mask while inside the building. Those who are not vaccinated or who do not wish to disclose their vaccination status will be required to wear a mask at all times while inside the building. 

There will be designated seating areas for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. In-person public testimony will be accepted during a committee or general meeting’s public portion and during public hearings scheduled for June 8. 

In addition to now having the option to testify at legislative meetings in person, members of the public may continue to offer comment remotely over Zoom or by email, regular mail or voicemail. Those interested in addressing legislators over Zoom may sign up at www.scnylegislature.us/CommitteePublicPortion. Written testimony may be emailed to clerk.legislature@suffolkcountyny.gov or mailed to the attention of the Clerk's Office at the Suffolk County Legislature, P.O. Box 6100, Hauppauge, NY 11788. Audio testimony will be accepted by voicemail at 631-853-3685; callers may leave a 3-minute message.

“Although we are excited to be allowing for in-person testimony again, we understand that at this time some people may prefer to continue offering comments remotely,” said Calarco. “Public comment is a critical part of the legislative process, and we hope Suffolk County residents will continue to take advantage of these opportunities to engage with elected officials on issues that are important to them.”

Information on submitting public testimony in person or remotely, including safety protocols for attending a legislative meeting in person, is available on the legislature’s Providing Public Comment webpage.

Suffolk Legislature committees to meet June 1-4 

Committee meetings of the Suffolk County Legislature will be held from June 1-4 to tee up proposed legislation for consideration at the legislative body’s June 8 general meeting.

Committee agendas include measures to: establish a county policy to ensure that candidates from underrepresented communities are considered for high-level appointed positions, to be considered on Wednesday at 10 a.m.; allowing the county to name a teenaged Youth Poet Laureate, to be considered on Wednesday, at 12:30 p.m.; and prohibiting the reckless operation of a bicycle and making it unlawful to operate a bicycle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, to be considered on Thursday at 9:30 a.m.

See below for committee agenda links and additional highlights. Meetings will be livestreamed at www.scnylegislature.us. Resolutions that are approved in committees will be considered by the full legislature at the June 8 general meeting. Committees that usually meet on Mondays will instead meet on Friday, June 4 due to Memorial Day.

Meeting schedule and links to full agendas 

Tuesday 6/1/2021 - Budget & Finance (9:30 a.m.) | Seniors & Human Services (CANCELED) | Fire, Rescue and Emergency Medical Services & Preparedness (10 a.m.*)

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Wednesday 6/2/2021 - Government Operations, Personnel, Information Technology & Diversity (10 a.m.) | Education & Labor (CANCELED) | Economic Development, Planning & Housing (12:30 p.m.)

Thursday 6/3/2021 - Public Safety (9:30 a.m.) | Ways & Means (12:30 p.m.) | Health (2 p.m.)

 

Friday 6/4/2021** - Environment, Parks & Agriculture (10 a.m.) | Veterans & Consumer Affairs (1 p.m.) | Public Works, Transportation & Energy (2 p.m.) 

Committee weekly highlights

On Wednesday at 10 a.m., legislators on the Government Operations, Personnel, Information Technology and Diversity Committee will consider a proposal from Legislator Jason Richberg to establish a county policy to ensure that candidates from underrepresented communities are considered for high-level appointed positions. Under the proposed policy, for every Commissioner-level vacancy in Suffolk County, at least two candidates who self-identify as being from an underrepresented community and who have the appropriate credentials would have to be interviewed for the position. Individuals would be considered to be from an underrepresented community if they are of a race, religion, gender identity or sexual orientation that comprises less than 50 percent of the department, office or agency hiring for the position.

Also on Wednesday, at 12:30 p.m., legislators on the Economic Development, Planning and Housing Committee will consider a measure by Deputy Presiding Officer Kara Hahn to allow Suffolk County to name a teenaged Youth Poet Laureate, in addition to the Suffolk County Poet Laureate, biennially. The first Youth Poet Laureate would be designated in June 2022.

On Thursday at 9:30 a.m., legislators on the Public Safety Committee will consider a law proposed by Deputy Presiding Officer Hahn to prohibit the reckless operation of a bicycle and make it unlawful to operate a bicycle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Reckless operation of a bicycle would include weaving or steering in a zig-zagging course while motor vehicles are in operation or trick riding on roads or active parking lots. Under the proposed law, law enforcement officers would be allowed to seize and impound the bicycle. An impounded bicycle would be returned to the owner or a minor’s parent or guardian with an explanation for the impounding. For a first offense, there would be no fee to get the bicycle back, and the law enforcement agency would not be able to hold the bicycle for more than 24 hours. Lawmakers on the Public Safety Committee will also consider a law proposed by Deputy Presiding Officer Hahn to require the use of helmets when using bicycles with electric assist or electric scooters, as well as her proposed law to protect vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, scooters, and workers by requiring motor vehicles to pass them by a distance of at least 3 feet. 

Then at 12:30 p.m., legislators on the Ways and Means Committee will discuss a resolution sponsored by Presiding Officer Rob Calarco to designate an “Election Worker Appreciation Day” in Suffolk County on the fourth Tuesday in June before a General Election to urge residents to demonstrate their gratitude for the county’s election officials and workers, who met the challenges of holding elections during a global pandemic. 

Also on Thursday, at 2 p.m. legislators on the Health Committee will consider Legislator Samuel Gonzalez’s resolution to designate March 21 as “Down Syndrome Awareness Day” in Suffolk County starting in 2022. The H. Lee Dennison Building would be illuminated with a blue glow on this day.

On Friday at 1 p.m. lawmakers on the Veterans and Consumer Affairs Committee will discuss a law proposed by Deputy Presiding Officer Hahn to cap fees charged by third-party food delivery services during certain emergency situations. Under the proposed law, it would be unlawful for delivery fees charged to restaurants by third-party food delivery services to be more than 15 percent of the purchase price of each online order. The law would also prohibit any fees, other than a delivery fee, that is greater than 5 percent of the purchase price of an online order. The law would apply during declared emergencies during which on-premises dining is restricted. Violators would be subject to a civil fine of up to $1,000. The Department of Labor, Licensing and Consumer Affairs would be responsible for enforcement.

The following resolutions, among others, will be tabled in their respective committees so that public hearings can be held June 8 at 2 p.m. Public comment for these hearings will be accepted both in person and remotely.

  • Establishing an independent Office of Inspector General, sponsored by Legislator Rob Trotta, in Government Operations, Personnel, Information Technology and Diversity;
  • Protecting individuals from COVID-19-related discrimination, sponsored by Deputy Presiding Officer Kara Hahn, in Government Operations, Personnel, Information Technology and Diversity;
  • Authorizing the dissolution of the Local Development Corporation known as the Recreation and Economic Development Corporation of Suffolk County, in Economic Development, Planning and Housing;
  • Regulating the use of unmanned aerial vehicles by law enforcement, sponsored by Legislator Samuel Gonzalez, in Public Safety;
  • Prohibiting smoking in multiple dwelling units, sponsored by Legislator Gonzalez, in Health;
  • Updating the county’s smoking regulations to include marijuana, sponsored by Legislator Nick Caracappa, in Health;
  • Helping protect honey bee colonies by requiring pesticide applicators to contact a beekeeper before exterminating honey bees to try and relocate colonies or hanging swarms, sponsored by Legislator Al Krupski, in Health;
  • Clarifying smoking restrictions at County Parks and Park Facilities, sponsored by Legislator Caracappa, in Environment, Parks and Agriculture;
  • Authorizing the alteration of rates for North Ferry Co., Inc., in Public Works, Transportation and Energy; and
  • Approving the ferry license renewal for Beachcomber Freight Service, in Public Works, Transportation and Energy.

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