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Nassau legislator to push bill requiring carbon monoxide detectors in businesses

Legal Sea Foods in the Shops at Walt

Legal Sea Foods in the Shops at Walt Whitman mall is closed Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014, for an investigation into why and how the manager Steve Nelson, 55, died and 27 people were sickened by carbon monoxide Saturday evening. Credit: James Carbone

Nassau Democratic Legis. Judy Jacobs plans to introduce a bill this week requiring the mandatory installation of carbon monoxide detectors at all county businesses, schools and recreational facilities following a leak at a Huntington Station restaurant Saturday night that killed a manager and injured dozens more.

State law currently requires carbon monoxide detectors only in private homes.

“This is a common sense law,” said Jacobs (D-Woodbury), who plans to file her bill by the end of the week. “People should look at this law as a protection of their rights.”

But, Cristina Brennan, a spokeswoman for the Republican majority in the county legislature, said the state has jurisdiction over changes to the building code and that Nassau lawmakers cannot act on the matter.

“We have no objection to the requirement,” said Brennan. “But, we don’t have jurisdiction to do this. It’s handled through the state.”

Peter Clines, counsel to Nassau legislative Democrats, said his caucus is still researching the law.

“We are not prepared to assume that the county is powerless to address this important public safety issue,” Clines said.

On Monday, State Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset) introduced legislation requiring detectors in commercial establishments, saying the measure would close a "deadly loophole" in state law. Chad Lupinacci (R-Huntington) and Michael Montesano (R-Glen Head) are co-sponsors in the Assembly.

Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray also plans to require the detectors in a host of public facilities, including bars, restaurants and movie theaters.

Suffolk Legis. John M. Kennedy Jr. (R-Nesconset) also plans to introduce a pair of resolutions next month that would create a task force aimed at requiring businesses across the state to install detectors and an immediate requirement for the equipment in Suffolk County municipal and college buildings.

A faulty flue pipe in the heating system in the basement of Legal Sea Foods is responsible Saturday's carbon monoxide poisoning that killed restaurant manager Steven Nelson, 55, of Copiague, Huntington Town officials have said.


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