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Suffolk County legislature approves bill to curb trick biking

The Suffolk County Legislature medallion hangs on the

The Suffolk County Legislature medallion hangs on the wall at the Suffolk County Legislature in Hauppauge on Dec. 17, 2019. Credit: Heather Walsh

The Suffolk County Legislature on Tuesday approved a bill to crack down on "reckless biking," including wheelie popping and swerving into traffic, in an effort to make the roads safer.

The bill, sponsored by Legis. Rudy Sunderman (R-Shirley), aims to crack down on drunken biking and trick riding to prevent accidents.

Legislators approved the measure 13-4 after more than an hour of debate. Sunderman said.

Several Democratic lawmakers expressed concern that the legislation could lead to disparate enforcement and the impounding of bicycles for minor infractions, such as cyclists not properly hand signaling.

"I wish it was only about reckless bicycling, but it is broad," said Deputy Presiding Officer Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), who abstained from the vote. "It could potentially have these other consequences."

Republicans said they were confident police would properly enforce the law.

Sunderman also said the bill includes an educational component for cyclists on safe biking.

"If you are bicycling safely and legally, there will be no concerns," Sunderman said.

Also, some Democrats said they were open to amending the bill later.

Also Tuesday, lawmakers voted to ban restaurants from using latex products — including gloves, utensils and food packaging — in an effort to protect diners who are allergic, officials said.

The measure, approved unanimously, would require food service establishments to use products made from alternative materials.

The legislation also requires businesses including tattoo parlors and nail salons to post warning signs if they use latex products.

"If we can help one person avoid a serious latex allergy as the result of this resolution, we have achieved our goal," bill sponsor Sunderman said in a statement.

While fewer than 1% of Americans are allergic to latex, the rate is significantly higher among health care workers and people with the spinal condition spina bifida, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

Colleen Coleman-Spiciati, a physician assistant from Baiting Hollow, said she raised the issue with Sunderman after suffering from wheezing, itchy throat and tongue swelling while patronizing restaurants.

The measure is "not just for my safety — it’s for the safety of millions other people as well," Coleman-Spiciati said.

Sunderman said restaurants can use materials that cost about the same as latex, including nitrile and vinyl. Six states, including California and Hawaii, have passed latex bans similar to Suffolk's.

Suffolk County would issue fines ranging from $250 to $1,000 for violations. County health department officials would have to first hold hearings with accused violators before imposing fines.

Aides to Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone did not respond immediately to a query about whether he will sign the bill.

Also Tuesday, the legislature appointed Democrat Jackie Gordon, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in the 2nd District in November, to the board of the Suffolk County Water Authority.

Gordon, who stepped down from the Babylon Town Board a year ago, will fill a vacancy left by Mario Mattera, a Republican who was elected in the 2nd State Senate district.

The SCWA board sets water rates, implements policy and hires executive staff. Gordon’s salary will be $18,500 a year, and her term expires in 2024, SCWA chief executive Jeff Szabo said.

Former Suffolk County Legis. Brian Beedenbender, a Democrat from Nesconset, was appointed to the county Industrial Development Agency board and to the Suffolk County Economic Development Corporation.

Beedenbender, who served one term in the county legislature and also worked as Brookhaven Town chief of staff and as district director for former Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton), is vice president of sales at Huntington-based TEQ, an education technology company.

Beedenbender will replace Grant Hendricks, who left the IDA this month.

The IDA provides tax incentives to businesses in return for commitments to create jobs and make capital investments. The Economic Development Corp provides tax-free bond financing to hospitals, private schools and other nonprofits. Board members of both serve without compensation.

Also Tuesday, county lawmakers voted to create a website with resources and information for people dealing with mental health and substance abuse issues.

The website will highlight the signs of mental illness and addiction and provide information on residential and outpatient treatment centers, programs, hotlines and other preventive measures and treatment options.

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