Burning questions about pot sales on LI
The New York State Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act was signed into law by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo last month, but local leaders have been lining up with implementation questions about the sprawling legislation in the weeks since.
Exhibit A was a Thursday Zoom call in which Long Island town supervisors tried to get answers on some of the granularities from the state.
Some of the issues that came up included questions about handling sales of weed gummies, drug tests for municipal workers, and marijuana delivery, sources on the call told The Point.
These are just some of the particularities in play regarding this major issue for Long Island supervisors, mayors and local lawmakers, who have to decide by the end of the year whether to opt their localities out of adult-use cannabis retail dispensaries or licenses for on-site consumption. (Any such decision can be reversed by referendum.)
It appears that the opt-out decision has an even more complicated fork: Cities, towns or villages could opt out of either cannabis dispensaries or cannabis lounges where the substance can be consumed, or both, according to the law.
There’s also funding in flux. The law allots 3% of the retail price to the municipality where the cannabis is sold, but in a potentially complex manner: If the cannabis is sold within a village that is part of a town that has not opted out, then the village and town come to their own terms about how much of the allotted portion goes to each. If no such agreement is made, then the 3% is split evenly.
There’s some time for these kinds of quirks to be ironed out, given that the sales program isn’t expected to begin until around September 2022.
However, the Shinnecock Indian Nation appears set to move much more quickly — just next door to Southampton and other towns still mulling how legal marijuana will work. That’s yet another complication.
—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano
See the data: Nursing home staff on LI lagging behind residents in COVID-19 vaccinations
Many staff members at Long Island’s nursing homes aren’t vaccinated, according to state data provided to The Point regarding 77 facilities in Nassau and Suffolk counties. In 45 of them, less than half of the staff has been fully vaccinated. In 35 facilities, less than half of the staff has received at least one shot.
The range between the facilities is stunning. In one, Excel at Woodbury for Rehabilitation and Nursing, LLC, only 20% of staff has been fully immunized. By contrast, at Oceanside Care Center, 87.2% of staff has received a complete vaccination – the only facility to surpass the 80% threshold. Only eight nursing homes have more than 60% of their staffs fully vaccinated.
Risk & Reward
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Suozzi, SALT and Rice
Every day it seems Rep. Tom Suozzi is energetically building his case for repeal of the Trump administration’s cap on the deduction of state and local taxes, known as SALT. He wants to eliminate the $10,000 limit as part of the massive Biden administration’s multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure bills.
Suozzi contends enough Democrats will hold back on their votes to jeopardize passage of Biden's plans in the House of Representatives. A separate legislative effort by Suozzi and others to repeal the cap already has 106 co-sponsors, but that measure is very unlikely to move on its own, which is why the current strategy is to tuck it into the infrastructure proposals.
On Thursday, Suozzi was on a call with the U.S. Conference of Mayors to drum up support and Tom Cochran, long-time CEO of the conference, said he is working to get the Big Seven of municipal organizations, including the National Governors Association and the National Association of Counties, to join the push as well.
But Suozzi’s efforts aren’t 100% backed in his own backyard. He has support from the two Long Island Republican members, Reps. Anthony Garbarino in CD2 and Lee Zeldin in CD1, who are part of his "bipartisan" caucus. And last week, Suozzi and NYS Delegation chair Jerry Nadler organized a joint statement from New York’s House Democrats. All but two signed on: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, not unsurprisingly, since her district and political philosophy don’t require it, and, surprisingly, CD4’s Kathleen Rice, who is the only one of the five members of the Long Island delegation declining to link passage of Biden’s infrastructure bill to the SALT deduction.
So The Point caught up to Rice to ask why she isn’t getting on this bandwagon.
"I support full repeal of SALT," said Rice, noting that she is a co-sponsor of Suozzi’s standalone bill. "I am not supportive of this ‘draw a line in the sand’ position that could torpedo Biden’s infrastructure plans," she said.
—Rita Ciolli @ritaciolli