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Cuomo signs bills to protect Hamptons open space, fund opioid programs

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Wednesday signed a bill into law that would allow Colonial-era "freeholders" to continue to act as modern municipal corporations to accept and protect environmentally sensitive land in the Hamptons.

The measure extends the authority under an existing law through July 31, 2023, to the elected trustees of the "freeholders and commonality" that originally governed the towns of Southampton, East Hampton and Southold. The measure allows the trustees to continue to accept land for preservation seized by Suffolk County in foreclosures, which includes open land, wetlands, trails, roads and land under the bays in eastern Long Island. Under law, the land can only be transferred to a municipal corporation.

"It’s another tool for land preservation to make sure that sensitive lands are preserved and given to the right stewards," said Assemb. Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor). He co-sponsored the law with State Sen. Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk).

The elected trustees are already stewards of open lands and sea bottoms received from Suffolk County, usually at no cost. The trustees are part of a system created in the 1700s. They are separate from the governments that manage the towns.

Cuomo also signed several other bills passed by the Legislature. They include:

  • A measure to require a dedicated opioid settlement fund. The law requires that the fund receives proceeds from court settlements and court orders paid by manufacturers and those who sold or distributed opioids that "contributed to increases in opioid addiction." The funds would be used for state and community programs to help those addicted to opioids and prevent further addiction.
  • A measure that sets a two-year sunset of a law that allows the rental of personal watercraft, such as Jet Skis and Sea-Doos, without requiring the customers to earn a safe-boating certificate. The measure requires the practice to be evaluated every two years for the benefit of companies that lease the craft and consumers.
  • A measure to require a dedicated opioid settlement fund. The law requires that the fund receives proceeds from court settlements and court orders paid by manufacturers and those who sold or distributed opioids that "contributed to increases in opioid addiction." The funds would be used for state and community programs to help those addicted to opioids and prevent further addiction.
  • A bill to extend a law that allows the driver’s licenses of New Yorkers to be suspended if they don’t pay court-ordered child support.

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