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Sweeney bill to crack down on ivory trade set to be approved

Assemb. Robert Sweeney, chairman of the Assembly Environmental

Assemb. Robert Sweeney, chairman of the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee, has been pushing for the ivory ban bill during what will be his final legislative session. (March 31, 2014) Photo Credit: Philip Kamrass

Amid the last-minute flurry of legislative activity, New York lawmakers have agreed to a new law to crack down on the illegal trade of ivory and rhinoceros horns -- a bill championed by retiring Assemb. Robert Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst).

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) said action was needed because “New York is a leading market in the world for illegal ivory sales.”

In 2012, a joint state-federal investigation resulted in the seizure of elephant ivory worth more than $2 million from New York City-based jewelers, according to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. The new law would not only stiffen penalties for illegal ivory trade but also expand the definition of illegal materials.

Sweeney, chairman of the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee, has been pushing for the bill during what will be his final legislative session. First elected in 1988, the Assembly veteran won’t seek re-election this fall.

“This legislation will protect elephants, which are being lost to the world at an outrageous rate of 96 elephants a day, all to satisfy the vanity ivory market and to finance terrorism,” Sweeney said in a statement. “The enactment of this bill recognizes the significant impact our state can have on clamping down on illegal ivory sales in order to save elephants from the ruthless poaching operations run by terrorists and organized crime.”

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