Editorial: Make your voice heard at county meeting

05/04/2016 8:00 PM |

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Meetings of Suffolk County Legislature committees aren’t glamorous, attention-grabbing or particularly well attended. Nevertheless, they’re one of those events newspapers typically cover.

We can understand the sparse attendance. People have lives to live — jobs to go to, bills to pay and children to spend time with.

But there’s an important reason to make time to attend the Legislature’s health committee meeting at 2 p.m. today, Thursday, May 5, at the County Center in Riverside.

After rejecting a similar measure last year, the Legislature decided to hold some of its committee meetings — two out of 16 — at the County Center. Last year’s rejection was ridiculous, fueled by nothing more than western legislators’ desire to save themselves the time and trouble of traveling to Riverside instead of Hauppauge to hear what the public had to say.

But East End residents often have a different take on issues from those living in western Suffolk. Hosting meetings in Riverside makes it easier for them to voice those opinions.

On the health committee’s agenda this afternoon is a bill the county is considering to ban plastic bags. Both Southampton and East Hampton towns — following the lead of several villages within their boundaries — have had plastic bag bans in place for years. Southold and Riverhead’s supervisors have both deferred to the county on the issue, saying a town-by-town approach wouldn’t be appropriate.

As far as we’ve heard, the plastic bag bans in Southampton and East Hampton have had little to no effect on those towns’ economies. Residents and businesses have both adapted. It’s now up to legislators to tackle the issue head-on and adopt a resolution that will ban single-use plastic bags throughout Suffolk County.

At a meeting in Hauppauge last month, health committee chair Dr. William Spencer (D-Huntington) tabled a resolution on the proposal, saying County Executive Steve Bellone’s office still had concerns about the bill and he wanted to make sure it was ready for approval before putting it to a committee vote.

Today’s health committee meeting gives East End residents a chance to weigh in on the matter. Whether they support the bill or not — and this newspaper does support it — the opportunity to be heard by the county Legislature is something residents should do their best to take advantage of.

On the surface, a health committee’s decision about a single piece of proposed legislation may not seem like the biggest news of the day. But when you consider the long-term environmental damage plastic bags cause, it could be very big news indeed. So make an effort to participate and have your say on whether this piece of legislation passes.

Credit: Mike Mozart/Flickr

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