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New law expands Pine Barrens

A swan stands along the banks of the

A swan stands along the banks of the Carmans River in South Haven Park in Brookhaven. (July 18, 2013) Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

ALBANY -- Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed into law Thursday bills to expand the Long Island pine barrens, screen newborns for a certain heart defect and rename a section of state Route 110 in Huntington after late Assemb. James Conte.

Cuomo put his signature on dozens of bills that were passed in the waning days of the 2013 legislative session. Very few generated any controversy. The new laws ranged from prohibiting U-turns in school zones to mandating helmets for any horse riders younger than 18 to implementing a new resident parking system in parts of the Town of Hempstead. A number extend sales-tax provisions to counties, including Suffolk.

One of the new laws will help protect the Carmans River watershed by adding 3,875 acres along the waterway to the central pine barrens area. The measure will connect new parcels with previously protected ones to reduce development pressure, according to the bill's sponsors, Assemb. Robert Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst) and Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson). The Carmans flows 10 miles south from Middle Island in the Town of Brookhaven to the Great South Bay.

"The pine barrens and Carmans Rivers Watershed are Long Island treasures," Sweeney said in a statement. "Preserving this land will help protect the Carmans River and also provide important protections for Long Island's groundwater."

LaValle added: "The protection afforded by inclusion of parcels from within the Carmans River watershed under provisions of the Pine Barrens Protection Act will extend the Act's protection to this environmentally sensitive, natural resource."

Other new laws will:

Require that hospitals perform "pulse oximetry screening" on newborns to determine oxygen levels in blood. Low levels can signal a congenital heart defect. The American Heart Association, which lobbied heavily for the law, said early detection can save infants' lives.

Rename a section of state Route 110 in honor of Conte, a Republican who represented parts of Huntington for 24 years. The renamed section runs from state Route 25 to state Route 25A in Huntington.

Require horseback riders younger than 18 to wear helmets. Previously, helmets were mandatory for those 14 and younger.

Extend Suffolk County's sales tax rate until Nov. 30, 2015.

Bans U-turns in designated school zones.

Allow Hempstead to develop a residential parking permit system in areas around the Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow. Supporters said resident parking has been a problem since the parking garage was condemned in June 2011.

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