Legislature approves yogurt as NY's official snack

ALBANY Gov. Andrew Cuomo will soon decide whether yogurt will become New York's official state snack.

The Assembly overwhelmingly approve a bill Wednesday to make yogurt an official state symbol, an effort that was spearheaded by fourth graders from Byron-Bergen Elementary School in Genesee County.

But while the bill was passed with no debate, it didn't come without some classic Albany drama.

Not long before the Assembly was scheduled to begin discussing the bill, protesters on an unrelated issue forced open a door to the chamber. Bruce Darling, the president and CEO of the Rochester-based Center for Disability Rights, laid on the floor to block the entrance, remaining there as his supporters chanted and yelled, disrupting the proceedings for more than an hour.

Darling and several disability-rights advocates were protesting the Assembly's reluctance to pass a bill that would allow non-nurses to administer certain medical services to disabled patients. The bill picked up support last week from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who introduced a bill that would make the change.

As lawmakers logged their votes on the bill Wednesday, the protesters' chanting rang through the chamber: "People are dying, have you no shame?"

When the vote was announced, cheers from the fourth graders -- who were at the Capitol for the vote -- overpowered the chanting.

The bill passed by an 85-1 vote. Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, R-Canandaigua, Ontario County voted no, saying there are more important issues to debate, such as a bill that would create a statewide database of violent felony offenders.

The vote capped a wild ride for the yogurt bill, which was the subject of a 45-minute debate in the state Senate last month. The lengthy floor discussion — which was at times tense and humorous — was skewered by late-night television hosts, including Jon Stewart and David Letterman.

With the Assembly approval, the bill now heads to the desk of Cuomo, who has been a public booster of the state's burgeoning yogurt industry.

JCAMPBELL1@gannett.com

Twitter.com/JonCampbellGAN​


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