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         January 23, 2001

Democrat Majority Holding Hostage Legislation to Prevent Drunk Driving, Boot Vehicles of Deadbeat Parents and Eliminate Commissioner of Accounts

Minority Leader and County Legislator Peter J. Schmitt (R-Massapequa) was joined by Legislator John J. Ciotti (R-North Valley Stream) and Legislator Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) in urging the Democrat Majority on the County Legislature to release several pieces of key legislation that the Majority has either held or prevented from even being placed in committee for consideration by the public.

Drunk Driving Legislation
Introduced by Legislator Ciotti in May of last year, this legislation would permit local police to temporarily seize the motor vehicle of a person under the age of 21 who is caught with alcoholic beverages in their possession. The legislation was introduced in response to a problem brought to Legislator Ciotti's attention by local students.

Under NYS Law persons under the age of 21 are not permitted to possess alcoholic beverages. Underage youths, however, may improperly obtain alcohol and then drive to a remote area to drink and then later drive. If they are discovered by the Police prior to entering their vehicle, the Police can only issue an appearance ticket for the possession of the alcohol. The legislation proposed by the students would authorize the Police to temporarily take the vehicle from the youths, bring it to the local Police station, hold it for 24-hours and require the owner of the vehicle take repossession of it.

The concept for this legislation was developed by students at Valley Stream North High School. The legislation has the support of Long Island Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

"This legislation takes the weapon out of the hands of the driver before a tragic crash occurs," said County Legislator Ciotti. "I urge my colleagues in the Majority to place the bill on the calendar for consideration. Unfortunately, they have held the legislation without even assigning it to a committee."

Booting the Vehicles of Deadbeat Parents
Introduced by Legislator Gonsalves in February of last year, this legislation is similar to the proposal passed by the Suffolk County Legislature which would permit Sheriff's Deputies to boot the motor vehicle of cars of deadbeat parents who are in arrears for more than 90 days and $2,500 in child support. In Nassau County at any given time there are more than 20,000 child support cases in arrears for a total amount of $165 million.

"There is no reason why this legislation should not be considered in committee to help protect children who are faced with the prospect of having to go on welfare if their child support is not paid," said Legislator Gonsalves. "It is regrettable that nearly one year after this bill has been introduced it has yet to have been put before the Public Safety Committee for any public consideration and a vote. Protecting our children is not a partisan issue."

Eliminate Commissioner of Accounts
Minority Leader Peter Schmitt is urging Democrats to pass their own legislation that would have eliminated the Commissioner of Accounts Department and saved taxpayers $1.3 million annually according to the Democrats. The legislation, introduced by Presiding Officer Judith Jacobs and co-sponsored by the entire Democrat delegation in May of last year, was never acted upon.

"I am calling upon the Majority to pass their own legislation which would eliminate a department that all parties agree is no longer needed," said Legislator Schmitt. "Unless they have made a deal with the County Executive, there is no reason why they should not pass their own legislation."

"When the Democrat Majority was elected they told the public that all legislation, regardless of sponsor, would get a fair hearing within 45-days," concluded Legislator Schmitt. "Unfortunately, it appears that they are not abiding by the rules which they proposed and were adopted by the Legislature. In some instances, legislation has been held hostage now for almost one-year."

Subsection B (3) of Section 7 of the rules adopted by the Legislature reads as follows:

4. Upon referral of a proposed Local Law, Ordinance or Resolution to a committee of the County Legislature, the Chair of such committee shall bring such proposal before the committee for consideration and a vote within forty-five (45) days of referral (emphasis added), unless the Chair indicates in writing the reasons why such proposal is not being brought before the committee for consideration and a vote. Such explanation shall be filed with the Clerk of the County Legislature, the Presiding Officer and the Minority Leader and shall be made available to the public. If such proposed Local Law, Ordinate or Resolution receives at least five (5) affirmative votes, such item shall be forwarded to the Rules Committee for consideration.

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