The New York State Senate this week gave final passage to a variety of legislation that has already passed in the Assembly and will be sent to the Governor for review. The legislation would help prevent forcible touching on public transit, stop the spread of meningococcal disease, provide high-quality after-school programs to youth, enhance access to healthy foods in lower-income areas, and make certain synthetic drugs illegal.
Among the bills receiving final passage are:
- S3203A, sponsored by Senator Golden (R-C-I, Brooklyn): redefines the crime of forcible touching to include when one subjects another person to sexual contact for the purpose of gratifying the actor's sexual desire and with the intent to degrade or abuse a passenger on a public bus, train, or subway car.
- S4324A, sponsored by Senator Kemp Hannon (R, Nassau): adds vaccination against meningococcal disease to the list of vaccines children must have prior to entering school. Specifically, the bill would require parents to ensure that their children entering, repeating, or transferring into seventh and twelfth grades are vaccinated against the disease (beginning September 1, 2016).
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the two most severe and common illnesses caused by the Neisseria meningitidis bacteria are meningitis (infections of the fluid and lining around the brain and spinal cord) and bacteremia or septicemia (bloodstream infections). Each year, roughly 1,000 - 1,200 people contract meningococcal disease in the United States. Of these cases, 10 to 15 percent are fatal and 11 to 19 percent of those who survive will suffer from permanent hearing loss, developmental delays, loss of limbs, or other serious conditions, the CDC reports.
- S5627, sponsored by Senator Simcha Felder (D, Brooklyn): helps ensure that all youth have access to high-quality after-school programs. It eliminates inconsistent requirements in the child care regulations to make them consistent with current public school building regulations, thereby allowing third parties to continue offering school-aged children much needed after-school programming within school buildings across New York.
- S5806, sponsored by Senator Kathleen Marchione (R-C, Halfmoon): creates a state Task Force for Retail Food Stores in Underserved Areas. The Task Force would identify and evaluate barriers that limit access to healthy, nutritional, and affordable food for lower-income residents in underserved communities and find ways to assist local food retail businesses. By assisting these businesses, this bill would help underserved communities gain access to more affordable and nutritious foods, which would not only improve their quality of life, but also limit negative impacts on public health and associated medical costs. Potential opportunities for farmers to expand market opportunities by selling locally-grown or -produced food products would also be identified.
- S738A, sponsored by Senator Joseph Griffo (R-C-I, Rome): makes certain synthetic drugs illegal. The bill would include the drug known as “N-Bomb,” which mimics the effects of LSD as a hallucinogen. These drugs have harrowing effects and in many cases, individuals have overdosed from these chemically-made drugs, which vary widely in potency.