For the first time in recent memory, a Nassau County executive has refused to sign two home rule messages approved unanimously by the county legislature in support of state legislation.
The resolutions submitted to County Executive Laura Curran ask state lawmakers to provide retirement benefits for disabilities that occur on the job for ambulance medical technicians, and retirement benefits for disabilities resulting from on-the-job accidents for county fire marshals.
In general, home rule messages of support are required for state legislation affecting municipalities’ finances.
Former county officials say they cannot recall any time in the past that a county executive did not sign a home rule message passed by a majority of the 19-member county legislature, even if that person did not agree with the measure.
The legislature voted 17-0 on Monday to approve the messages, with Legis. Carrié Solages (D-Elmont) and Howard Kopel (R-Lawrence) absent.
On Tuesday, county legislators learned that Curran would not sign the resolutions after county attorney Jared Kasschau issued a memo saying her approval was not necessary if a supermajority of 13 lawmakers voted for the measure.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, last year vetoed identical bills, sponsored by Sen. Elaine Phillips (R-Flower Hill). He said at the time he vetoed similar legislation because the bills did not include specific new funding sources to pay for the additional benefits.
Curran has three bills in Albany dealing with county assessment issues for which she needs Cuomo’s support.
Curran spokesman Michael Martino said Curran’s refusal to sign the disability home rule messages has nothing to do with Cuomo’s past disapproval.
“The administration did not have the time to fully review the legislation,” Martino said in an email. “ In the interest of not delaying the legislative process, the County Executive did not sign the home rule.”
But Jerry Laricchiuta, president of Nassau’s Civil Service Employees Association, which lobbied for the bills, noted Wednesday that Curran still had time to research the bills because the county charter gives the county executive 10 days to approve resolutions.
“She’s got eight more days to do the right thing,” Laricchiuta said. “We were trying to move these bills because we were under the impression the county executive was in support of them. Her signature would go a long way with the governor of our state.”
Martino responded, “With solid support in the legislature, it’s clear that the county executive’s signing would be nothing more than ceremonial.”
The state’s legislative session ends in eight days.