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Cuomo to rule on more than 100 bills

10:52 PM, Jul 31, 2013   |    comments
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By Jessica Bakeman,

ALBANY Gov. Andrew Cuomo planned to work until late Wednesday deciding how to act on more than 100 bills, including a measure banning smoking on hospital grounds and one requiring newborns to be tested for congenital heart diseases.

Other bills on Cuomo's desk also aim to protect children, such as a measure requiring minors to wear helmets while riding horses and another allowing students to carry topical sunscreen at school or camp.

If Cuomo signs or takes no action on the bills by midnight, they become law. He can also veto the bills.

A Cuomo spokesman said the governor's staff would be working until the deadline.

Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee, D-Suffern, Rockland County, sponsored the smoking ban, which prohibits people from smoking within 15 feet of any entrance to a hospital or residential health care facility. If approved, the bill would go into effect in 90 days.

Another bill would require that newborns undergo pulse oximetry testing, a non-invasive exam that estimates the percentage of hemoglobin in blood that is saturated with oxygen.

When the test is performed on a baby who is at least one day old, it can be more effective at detecting life-threatening congenital heart defects than prenatal ultrasound exams, according to the legislation.

"While prenatal ultrasound screenings can detect some major (congenital heart defects), these screenings, alone, identify less than half of all CHD cases," the bill said. "CHD cases are often missed during routine clinical exams performed prior to a newborn's discharge from a birthing facility."

The bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, D-Forestburgh, Sullivan County, would take effect after 180 days.

Sen. Kenneth LaValle, R-Suffolk County, sponsored a bill requiring horseback riders under 18 to wear a helmet. The legislation imposes a $250 fine for a violation.

Currently, only children age 14 and under are required to wear a helmet.

"Wearing a helmet can significantly reduce chances of sustaining serious injury," the bill said. "One of the most important pieces of safety equipment is a properly fitting helmet in order to absorb the impact to the head, provide cushioning to the skull and reduce jarring of the brain against the skull."

Sen. Michael Gianaris, D-Queens, sponsored a bill that would allow children attending school or summer camps to carry and use topical sunscreen with written permission from their parents.

Under the bill, if a child were unable to personally apply the sunscreen, an unlicensed professional would be authorized to assist if directed by the child and authorized by parents and the school.

The bill would go into effect after 30 days.

Cuomo will also consider legislation that would establish an educational program in which veterans would speak at schools to supplement instruction about American military history. Schools would get informational pamphlets with names of area veterans who were willing to speak to students about their service experience.

Assemblyman William Colton, D-Brooklyn, sponsored the bill, and Sen. David Carlucci, D-Clarktown, Rockland County, is the sponsor in the other chamber. The bill would go into effect after one year.

Another education bill would encourage partnerships between libraries and schools. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Hugh Farley, R-Schenectady, allows libraries to request local public schools distribute library-card applications to enrolled students. It would take effect Sept. 1.

A bill would stiffen penalties for those under 21 who purchase or attempt to purchase alcohol with fake identification.

"False identifications have gone much further than 'chalking' or borrowing another person's identification, and now many websites and businesses will sell identification which is extremely difficult to differentiate from authentic documentation," according to the bill, sponsored by Sen. Jeffrey Klein, D-Bronx. "This poses a numbers of problems and risks."

The bill allow a judge to assign up to 30 hours of community and participation in an alcohol awareness program for a first offense.

The bill ups the maximum number of community service hours for a second violation from 30 to 60 hours, and for a third or subsequent violation from 30 to 90 hours. After the first violation, participation in a mandatory alcohol awareness program would be required.

The bill would be effective Nov. 1.

Gunther also sponsored a bill that would charge a prisoner who throws the contents of a toilet bowl on an employee with aggravated harassment.

The legislation was introduced after an inmate in Sullivan County emptied a toilet bowl onto a corrections officer. It was later determined that the toilet did not contain human waste, so the inmate could not be charged. Currently, the law only punishes prisoners' attempts to cause employees to come into contact with certain bodily fluids.

If approved, the bill would go into effect Nov. 1.

Many of the bills are local, dealing with specific counties, towns or even individuals. For example, a bill sponsored by Assemblyman David Gantt, D-Rochester, would allow Monroe County to extend its 4 percent sales tax until 2015. It was set to return to 3 percent this year.

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