Cuomo signs plastic bag ban, PFAS contamination and more
Honoring Wayne’s 911 dispatchers
HONESDALE, PA — Meeting on April 18, the Wayne County Commissioners approved the proclamation of the second week of April as National 911 Telecommunicators Week, and approved individual certificates of appreciation for each of the county’s dispatch crew. Pictured seated are Scott Myers, left, supervisor Jim Wayman, and Matt Kromko. Standing are Commissioner Wendell Kay, Forrest Mohn, Billy Franklin, Will McKinnell and Commissioner Joe Adams.
Cuomo signs plastic bag ban
KINGSTON, NY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation in Kingston on Earth Day that bans the sale of single-use plastic bags in New York starting in March 2020, a significant step to reduce pollution and protect fish and wildlife. Single-use plastic bags do not degrade and often wind up as litter on lands and in waters, harming wildlife that ingest the plastic. It is estimated that New Yorkers use 23 billion plastic bags annually, and nationwide studies show that approximately 50 % of single-use plastic bags end up as litter. In addition to preventing plastic bag litter in our environment, this ban will also help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with plastic bag production and disposal, from petroleum used to produce the bags to emissions from the transportation of bags to landfills.
“You see plastic bags hanging in trees, blowing down the streets, in landfills and in our waterways, and there is no doubt they are doing tremendous damage,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Twelve million barrels of oil are used to make the plastic bags we use every year, and by 2050, there will be more plastic by weight in the oceans than fish. We need to stop using plastic bags, and today we’re putting an end to this blight on our environment.”
Under the new law, garment bags, trash bags and any bags used to wrap or contain certain foods, such as fruits and sliced meat,s are exempt from the ban.
PA legislation would address
HARRISBURG, PA — On Earth Day, April 22, Sen. Maria Collett introduced two pieces of legislation to address the perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination crisis.
One bill would lower the acceptable level of PFAS in drinking water to 10 parts per trillion until such time as a maximum contaminant level is established by the Environmental Protection Agency, the PA Department of Environmental Protection, or a governor’s executive order.
The second bill would classify PFAS as hazardous substances under Pennsylvania’s Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act (HSCA). The bills are a key first step toward addressing this environmental and public health crisis and ensuring that the polluters—not local municipalities and tax payers—are the ones bearing the cost to clean up our water and soil.
Opioid study in Orange, Ulster, Sullivan
BETHESDA, MD — Researchers from Columbia University will work with Sullivan, Orange, Ulster and 12 other counties in a multi-year study aiming to cut down on deaths from opioid overdoses. On April 18, the National Institute on Drug Abuse announced that it is granting funding to the university through its Helping to End Addiction Long-term (HEAL) initiative.
The National Institutes Health (NIH) launched the HEAL initiative in April 2018. NIH calls the initiative “an aggressive, trans-agency effort to speed scientific solutions to stem the national opioid public health crisis. This initiative will build on extensive, well-established NIH research, including basic science of the complex neurological pathways involved in pain and addiction, implementation science to develop and test treatment models and research to integrate behavioral interventions with Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder (OUD).”
In order to qualify for the study, a county had to have a rate of overdose deaths of 25 or more for every 100,000 members of the population. All three counties qualified.
PA Lieutenant Governor’s marijuana listening tour coming
WAYNE & PIKE COUNTIES — Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman will bring his marijuana listening tour to the area this weekend. Fetterman will visit Honesdale High School on Sunday, April 28 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Later that same day, he will visit Dingman-Delaware Middle School in Dingman’s Ferry from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
Fetterman is in the process of touring all 67 counties in the state to learn how residents feel about the possible legalization of marijuana. Many conservative lawmakers oppose the tour, asserting that it’s just a vehicle for Fetterman to gain support for his own position, which is to legalize recreational marijuana.
Republican Rep. Cris Dush has said that there are more legalization supporters than opponents at the meetings, and that people in the medical marijuana business have received advance notice of the meetings from Fetterman’s office.
Fetterman has denied the claim and said that Dush had tried to get more opponents to attend the meetings. Other conservatives in the state have boycotted the listening tour meeting.
PA family leave act
HARRISBURG, PA — State Senators Dan Laughlin (R-Erie) and Maria Collett (D-Montgomery/Bucks) have introduced The Family Care Act to establish a statewide Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program.
The two say every day, Pennsylvanians struggle to care for themselves and their loved ones without access to paid family and medical leave. Too often this means families collapsing into financial ruin because of a cancer diagnosis or the birth of a new child.
“The program created by this legislation would provide a basic ‘safety net’ that would allow for some financial stability for families during their time of need,” said Sen. Laughlin. “In times of crisis, especially when it involves a serious health issue, families have enough to be concerned about without having to worry about how they are going to pay their bills.”
“No one should have to choose between caring for a sick family member and keeping their job,” said Sen. Collett. “This legislation will help provide the flexibility and financial security that hard-working Pennsylvanians deserve.”