Smith's Viewpoint: Opposing enforcement of lockdowns in 5th Assembly District

Pictured on Aug. 31, New York State Assemblyman Doug Smith (at the podium) led a press conference along Main Street in Holbrook with local elected officials, chamber of commerce presidents, and small business owners. They demanded control back from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo regarding how businesses get back to operating amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

HOLBROOK, NY, AND ALBANY, NY ( / — New York State Assemblyman Doug Smith (5th District), a Republican from Holbrook, released the following statement on Monday, Nov. 23, regarding COVID-19 lockdowns in New York State. The statement comes as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, announced two new "Yellow Precautionary Zones" in Suffolk County as the positive test rate for COVID-19 increases.

The people of our state have sacrificed so much for the good of public health and have become educated about this virus and changed their daily habits to accommodate life during a pandemic. Good intentions do not override Constitutional rights and individual liberties in the United States of America. I am urging my constituents to make smarter choices and to think about your neighbors as you would think about your own families, but I cannot support additional lockdowns in my district as they are currently being proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo. 
Neither the state of New York, nor the Governor, have the authority under the law to infringe upon New Yorkers’ constitutional rights to free and peaceable assembly in the privacy of their own homes and communities, or to limit their ability to freely practice their religion. 
Further, without compensation, the state of New York has no legal authority to again infringe upon New Yorkers’ property rights by declaring which businesses can operate and which cannot, under arbitrary and capricious guidelines that are not backed by science, with no due process or discussion, and no vote by duly elected members of the New York State Legislature.
The people of my district are free citizens who live in a democratic republic governed by the rule of law, they are not children, peasants, or subjects living under a monarchy. Our law enforcement officers individually swore an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States and the State of New York, the governor cannot ask them to enforce orders which violate that oath. 

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This pandemic has had far-reaching negative consequences from a rise in domestic violence, drug addiction, child abuse, suicide, and depression; a backlog in our courts leading to a delay in justice; hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers losing their sole sources of income and health insurance; thousands of deaths of our seniors in their nursing homes; post-traumatic stress for our frontline healthcare workers; a steep drop in tax revenue for our state and local government which will lead to a cut in vital services that our poorest citizens can least afford to go without, layoffs of thousands of government workers, and an increase in our already sky high property taxes with our taxpayers unable to pay them!
It is very easy for anyone who has the luxury of a job that will pay them to work from home or even pay them to stay home and not work, to criticize what I have said. Anyone who can afford to stay hunkered down in their home counting on other people to bring things to and from their homes have a luxury that most New Yorkers do not. The last shutdown had over 20,000 people in our community forced onto Unemployment Insurance Benefits. Many of these families did not receive a first payment for 6-8 weeks with no household income at all, with many of these businesses not reopening. 
Before the governor makes these rash decisions, I would like him to consider the 1,400 employees of Baumann & Sons Bus Company in Ronkonkoma which recently closed their doors permanently. These 900 bus drivers and 500 additional staff, many of whom live in my district, lost their jobs because the school districts were not able to continue paying their busing contacts, because the state of New York would not reimburse them for transportation during the shutdown as a result of our state losing billions of dollars in sales tax revenue. These families and many others are now going into the winter months and holiday season struggling to keep their homes heated and children fed. These shutdowns are not compassionate, this is not what “New York tough” looks like.
For all these reasons, I will not be supporting the enforcement of any additional lockdowns as the governor has currently presented them across my district. I would also urge my colleagues in the state legislature that is past time for us to return to Albany, suspend Governor Cuomo's State of Emergency, and resume governing the state of New York as it has been governed for hundreds of years: by the rule of law.

OnSachem Editor's Note: 

Smith’s 5th Assembly District spans the townships of Brookhaven and Islip, and includes Holbrook, Holtsville, Ronkonkoma, Lake Ronkonkoma, Lake Grove, Centereach, Selden, Farmingville, as well as parts of North Patchogue, Islandia, and Stony Brook.

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