Three bills that would require identity verification, which immigrant advocates said were targeted toward Hispanic minorities, were all tabled Tuesday at the Suffolk County Legislature meeting in Hauppauge.
Two bills would require employers receiving money from the county and employers requiring occupational licenses to verify their employees’ eligibility to legally work in the country, through social security numbers and I-9 forms. Both bills, brought forth by County Executive Steve Levy, were tabled until November.
“Both the Bush and the Obama administrations have promoted the program,” said Levy. “We think voters have a right to know where their legislators stand on the issue before the election this fall, and e-Verify is a common-sense method of checking the accuracy of social security numbers submitted to ensure that employers do not get a competitive advantage through illegal hiring.”
Nancy Dwyer, with Pax Christi Long Island, called it a “lose, lose, lose proposition.”
“Legal or not, Hispanics are once again being stigmatized,” she said. “More losers as a result of this bill would be small businesses, which already feel burdened by the government. And all of us who look to law enforcement for security lose too, since law enforcement will be directed to enforce this.”
A third bill, tabled until the legislature’s June 21 meeting in Riverhead and sponsored by Legislator Kate Browning, WF-Patchogue, would require anyone purchasing a prepaid cell phone to provide two forms of identification. The bill states that prepaid cell phones are “attractive to terrorists and criminals,” adding that verifying the buyers’ I.D. would help law enforcement catch criminals.
Bill to ban toxic tar passes
The county Legislature passed a bill that will make it illegal for paving companies to use coal-tar-based sealcoaters, which have been shown to contain toxic carcinogens.
The legislation, sponsored by presiding officer Bill Lindsay, D-Holbrook, says a particular hydrocarbon in the sealcoating can pollute wetlands, which could kill aquatic life there. At the same time, the bill cites reports that dust in homes where driveways had been sealed with coal tar contains high levels of the toxin, which could kill small children.
Once signed into law, Suffolk would follow Washington state, which banned the sealcoater a month ago. In 2006 Austin, Texas became the fist municipality to ban coal-tar sealants.
Environmental groups such as the Nature Conservancy, Group for the East End, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, the Long Island Pine Barrens Society and the Peconic Baykeeper all supported the bill.
Feds grant Suffolk $189k for security
Suffolk County has picked up a $189,045 federal grant from the Securing the Cities initiative to bolster its systems for detecting radioactive materials to prevent a nuclear attack.
The county picked up the cash as pass-through funds from the New York City Police Department so it can purchase radiological and nuclear detection equipment in the form of a special vehicle to be added to its police fleet.
County shows film industry the money
County lawmakers this week passed a resolution to spend nearly $30,000 to support local film festivals and film projects. Money includes three $6,000 grants to fund local filmmakers who shoot at least 20 percent of their footage in Suffolk County. The resolution also gives $5,000 each to the Hamptons Take 2 Film Festival and the Hamptons Black International Film Festival.
According to the county, past films and television programs shot in Suffolk include Duplicity, Fair Game, Nanny Diaries, Salt, What Happens in Vegas, Boardwalk Empire, Damages, Gossip Girl, Royal Pains, Ugly Betty and It’s a Big, Big World.