ALBANY - Former Assemb. Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach) is reviving his 20-year effort to put additional safety labels on sunscreen products. He cites the inspirational leadership shown by food TV star Sandra Lee for cancer prevention and said that should encourage her longtime partner, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, to reconsider his veto of the sunscreen bill.
It's rare for a legislator to pursue legislation as a private citizen after leaving office. But Weisenberg, now retired, said this latest effort is a crusade to save lives.
Cuomo had vetoed Weisenberg's bill in December after it was overwhelmingly approved in the Legislature.
Last week, Cuomo said he would get more involved in breast cancer after Lee underwent a double mastectomy on May 19 and was hospitalized recently with an infection. She was scheduled to return home Wednesday, a day after surgery to combat the infection.
"She's a beautiful and bright woman and we wish her a speedy recovery," Weisenberg said of Lee, while also speaking for his wife who has been treated for skin cancer. "We know the pain and suffering."
His bill would have required sunscreen to carry a "best-if-used-by" date. Weisenberg said sunscreen is good for only three years, but its effectiveness against exposure to sun that can lead to skin cancer erodes quickly when stored in higher temperatures.
Cuomo vetoed the bill, saying federal law already requires an expiration date and state law can't supersede federal law. Cuomo said in his veto message that "although the consumer protections the bill seeks to advance are worthy" federal law would nullify a state law.
"We'll review any revised legislation that comes our way," said Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardki, "but the fact that federal law supersedes state law is as true now as it was seven months ago."