|The best thing that can be said about this snowy, frigid February is that spring is only weeks away. Even now, we see evidence in our backyard gardens of perennials emerging through the snow. Although it will be weeks before they bloom, they give us a glimpse of good days ahead.|
So too it is with my 2021 legislative agenda. First, we must conquer Covid19. Even after many of our residents are vaccinated this spring into summer, food insecurity, evictions and economic pain will continue to challenge us for some time. Yet, more and more residents will be vaccinated this month and next, and glimpses of a more positive new normal is beginning to emerge just as surely as the flowers of spring. So, as we move forward in this new year, it’s wise to look farther ahead to projects that will help preserve our environment and improve our lives long after Covid19 has been defeated.
Endeavors like “Reclaim Our Land”, my vision to take back land that should never have been built on to return to open space and “Recycling Retail” an initiative to rethink vacant retail space to create mixed-use spaces. If we can incentivize developers to recycle existing unused retail space, they won’t have to gobble up more green space for their projects. Ideas like these don’t happen overnight, but the pandemic has accelerated a trend toward vacant retail. I am convinced that the time is now for a comprehensive vision to rid us of blighted storefronts, help local mom and pop businesses and give us housing options for young and more mature alike. So, with yet another snow event coming our way, I am optimistic that together we can weather whatever Covid19 throws at us and even if battered and bruised, we will emerge stronger than ever come spring.
COVID Vaccines:New York State is now in its ninth week of providing vaccines and have administered approximately 92% of its first dose and 87% of its first and second dose allocations received from the Federal government.
For more information about the vaccination effort, please visit New York State's COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker.
For information on the State's vaccinations plan, please visit New York State's Phased Distribution of the Vaccine webpage.
For information on how to schedule your COVID-19 vaccination, please review the 'Helpful Information on Scheduling Your COVID-19 Vaccine' section below.
COVID-19 testing is widely available throughout Suffolk County. To schedule a test at a New York State testing site, which includes Stony Brook University, please call New York State COVID-19 Hotline at 1-888-364-3065 or visit the NYSDOH website https://covid19screening.health.ny.gov.
For information about other locations offering COVID-19 testing, please visit the Suffolk County Department of Health Service's COVID-19 Resources and Services webpage and select the Viral Testing tab.
Keep up to date on COVID infections by visiting:
Additionally, I report Suffolk’s daily numbers on my Facebook page https://facebook.com/KaraHahnLD5/.
Re-elected Deputy Presiding Officer of the Legislature and assigned to more committeesI am honored to have been reelected by my colleagues as the Legislature’s Deputy Presiding Officer, the Legislature’s number two leadership post. The Suffolk County Legislature is a very active legislative body, and thanks to a strong leadership team, we work effectively across the aisle to get things done to defend the vulnerable, protect our environment and improve the lives of all Suffolk County residents. In addition, this year I have the privilege of once again serving as chairperson of the Legislature’s Environment, Parks & Agriculture [EPA] committee and also as chair of the Economic Development, Planning & Housing committee. Additionally, I will serve as a member of six other committees: Budget & Finance; Education & Labor; Fire, Rescue, Emergency Medical Services & Preparedness; Health; Public Safety; and Ways & Means. My appointment to these eight committees will allow me to have an even greater positive impact for our community as we seek to recover from the pandemic.
Working Towards Safer Streets for all Users
After recent passage of a law to give SCPD tools to crack down on reckless bicycling, the Suffolk Legislature will soon consider legislation I authored to protect vulnerable road users from passing motor vehicles. With Suffolk’s streets being among the most dangerous in the nation for pedestrians and bicyclists, it is important that we work to strengthen laws and create a minimum passing distance to protect the health and safety of residents in Suffolk County when working, walking or riding on our roadways.
Local Bike Co-op Coasts to Facility use Agreement with County That Will Allow for Expansion to East End
It's all downhill from here for Brookhaven Bicycle Inc.’s expansion into eastern Long Island following the approval of an agreement allowing the Saint James-based not-for-profit organization use of two Suffolk County facilities within Robert Cushman Murphy County Park in Manorville. Under terms of the agreement negotiated between Brookhaven Bicycle Inc. and the County and approved through legislation I co-sponsored, the organization will use two county buildings currently vacant within the park to operate a bicycle repair facility and bicycle distribution center for people in need of transportation, as well as offering bicycle educational programs to the public.
In exchange for use of the facilities, Brookhaven Bicycle will act as custodian of the Raymond P. Corwin Pine Barrens Trail Center by repairing and maintaining the building and providing trail maps and information to the public. At the former Manorville church site, the Co-op will renovate, restore and maintain the building that will serve as a center for bicycle repairs, safety classes bicycle storage, and provide public access to the historic building.
When I learned the bicycle co-op needed assistance peddling eastward, I knew Suffolk County could be a perfect partner in this goal. By putting Brookhaven Bicycle Inc. together with the County Parks Department we are able to put the expansion of bicycling services on the east end into high gear and accelerate this organization’s mission to alleviate transportation struggles and promote bicycles across our region.
Regional Recycling Task Force Looks to 'Sort' Local Waste Crisis Out
Delayed but not disposed, the 22 member Suffolk County Regional Recycling Assessment Task Force held an inaugural meeting this month following pandemic related postponements. The task force comprised of municipal recycling professionals, County agencies and environmental advocates, was created in December 2019 through legislation I sponsored with a goal to develop a strategy for increasing the efficiency of recycling regionally, and to develop mechanisms to encourage the streamlining of the local recycling process.
The idea to establish a regional recycling committee followed a global disruption to recycling programs resulting from China’s decision to ban the import of most plastics and other materials used by that nation’s recycling processors. The resulting jolt from what was the world’s largest importer of post-consumer plastic waste’s policy change resulted in a number of localities altering, reducing or eliminating recycling programs.
‘One Use’ Plastics Task Force Reconvened to Reduce Waste
This January, we reconvened the Single Use Plastics Reduction Task Force that I created in 2018 to continue its work on ways to reduce the overabundance of plastic disposables in Suffolk County. Since its inception, the task force has made several recommendations to the Legislature that became law including a County-wide ban on the use of polystyrene cups, containers and plastic straws.
Now, the 12-member panel will consider feedback from the County's Health Department on its enforcement of the bans that went into effect in 2020, and other ways to cut local plastic use. During 2021, the task force and I will work with area businesses to reduce plastic utensil waste that not only adds to the waste stream, but can be an unnecessary expense for the industry.
Many area residents are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. However, supplies from the Federal Government are extremely limited. At this time, the New York State vaccine eligibility list includes doctors, nurses, health care workers, people 65 years old and above, first responders, teachers, public transit workers, grocery store workers, public safety workers. Last Monday, New Yorkers with certain comorbidities and underlying conditions also became eligible to receive the vaccine.
In New York State, vaccines are available at pharmacies, hospitals and through local health departments statewide – please contact your provider of choice to schedule your vaccine appointment. Please note: at this time the Suffolk County Department of Health Services is only authorized to give vaccinations to first responders.
To determine eligibility and schedule a first-dose appointment at one of the NYS operated vaccination sites:
Once you have successfully scheduled an appointment, you will receive a confirmation email that contains a barcode. You will need to bring this to your appointment.
Remember to complete the Vaccine Form: Once you have a confirmed appointment, you must complete the New York State COVID-19 Vaccine Form. This form should be filled out online and you will receive a submission ID indicating completion. You will need to bring the submission ID to your appointment. If you cannot submit the form online, it will be available at the vaccination sites.
Remember to bring proof of eligibility to your appointment: Depending on your eligibility category, proof can include an employee ID card, a letter from an employer or affiliated organization, a pay stub, a driver's license, passport, or any legal proof of your date of birth and residency. At the time of your appointment, you'll be asked a series of clinical questions to ensure readiness for a vaccine. You will be asked for insurance information BUT the vaccine is free and there will never be a charge to you. This information is for administrative use only.
Please Note: Your second dose appointment will be scheduled automatically when you receive your first vaccine dose. This second appointment will be scheduled for the same time and at the same location, three weeks following your first dose. You will receive a card onsite with the date and time indicated and a confirmation email will follow a few days later. Please keep in mind when scheduling your first appointment that your second appointment will occur at the same time of day.
Remember Appointments are not transferable.
For additional information about the vaccine process and of Frequently Asked Questions answered, please visit: https://suffolkcountyny.gov/vaccine.