Legislation is awaiting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature that would permit all five East End towns to use up to 20 percent of its Community Preservation Fund dollars for water quality improvement projects. (more…)
New York State assemblymen Fred W. Thiele Jr. of Sag Harbor and Dan Losquadro of Shoreham reported Thursday that an agreement had been reached during state budget negotiations to repeal the license and instead establish a registration requirement to meet a federal mandate to track certain species of fish.
According to the budget agreement, the registration will be guaranteed to be free for the next two years, and those who already purchased lifetime licenses will be granted a refund minus the fee for the past year. To officially repeal the state license, the agreement must be ratified within the 2011-2012 state budget, which is expected to be approved by April 1.
The recreational marine fishing license was established as part of the 2009 state budget, and was set to be implemented by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) on October 1, 2009. The day before enactment, the Town of Shelter Island joined Southampton and East Hampton towns in obtaining a State Supreme Court stay against the enforcement of the law; they later won an injunction.
Southold, Brookhaven, Huntington and Oyster Bay joined the original three towns on the suit, charging that the law establishing the license violated their control of local waters and their residents’ colonial patent rights to fish them. In December 2010, Judge Patrick A. Sweeney ruled in favor of the towns, supporting their patent rights and finding that a federal law requiring a registry of fishing data did not justify a fee-based license. The licenses cost $10 per year for all anglers age 16 or older.
The DEC filed an appeal of the ruling, which is pending in state court, according to Shelter Island Town Attorney Laury Dowd. She said Friday that in light of anticipated legislative action abolishing the license, the DEC commissioner may decide to drop the appeal.
Mr. Thiele supported the East End towns’ legal fight and also attempted to repeal the license during past legislative sessions. “The idea of a saltwater fishing license was ill-conceived from the outset,” He said in a press release. “Not only was it a tax on one of the fundamental rights that Long Island residents have had since colonial times, but it was a burden to the recreational fishing industry at a time when the recession was taking its toll on the local economy.”
“The saltwater-fishing fee targeted the livelihood of Long Island’s sport fishermen and had a negative impact on our region’s tourism industry,” stated Mr. Losquadro. “I am pleased that this regionally biased fee is being terminated and that those individuals who purchased lifetime marine licenses will be refunded.”
The candidates seeking to represent the North Fork in the State Legislature next year received a stern warning from one of the area’s largest business groups to either fix state government or face being thrown out of office in two years.
“You know folks, it’s getting tired,” North Fork Chamber of Commerce president Joe Corso said of oft-repeated campaign pledges to both create jobs and lower taxes. “No matter who’s in power, nothing seems to change.”
Mr. Corso’s comments came during the chambers meet the candidates dinner at the Portly Grape in Greenport. He was addressing incumbent GOP State Senator Kenneth LaValle and both Democratic Assemblyman Marc Alessi and his Republican challenger, County Legislator Dan Losquadro of Shoreham. Mr. LaValle’s Democratic foe, Rocky Point attorney Jennifer Maertz, did not respond to the chamber’s invitation, said Mr. Corso.
“You can’t cut spending and you can’t cut taxes at the same time,” Mr. Corso added. “We’ve been hearing that for 30 years.”
The Republicans blamed the Democrats, who control the governor’s office and both houses of the legislature, for the state’s fiscal troubles.
“We need to break their veto-proof majority and force them to deal with suburban representatives,” said Mr. Losquadro.
Responding to a question on why Albany has become “a magnet for crooks,” the senator said that while suburban representatives have “exemplary” records, the same cannot be said for the New York City delegations, which dominate the Legislature.
Mr. Alessi said New York’s current financial troubles can be traced back to the mid-1990s era of deregulation, which included lifting caps on health insurance premiums. That not only hurts consumers, it drives up the cost of schools and local government, he added.
Mr. Corso said that unlike past years, voters will be paying close attention after the elections have passed.
“We need to look at the people we put in power and hold their feet to the fire,” he said. “If they don’t perform, we should vote them out in two years.
See the complete story in Thursday’s Suffolk Times.