Erie County, NY- Legislator Patrick Burke is calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to veto S.6750/A.387B a law that if signed by the governor, would strip away local municipalities’ ability to combat the opioid epidemic and ensure clean drinking water for residents.
“For the past few months I have been working to pass the Erie County Pharmaceutical Water Pollution Act- a bill that would ensure pharmaceutical companies pay their fair share when it comes to the safe disposal of unused prescription drugs. For far too long residents have had to foot the bill of the pharmaceutical lobby by paying for the safe disposal of prescription drugs. Because no robust program exists at the county level, many local towns including some in my own district are left without places to safely dispose of their unused medication. These pills can then get into local drinking water supplies or can fuel the cycle of addiction in the wake of the opioid epidemic” Burke said.
A few months ago, the State Legislature passed a bill that chose to strip away power from local municipalities. Specifically, S.6750/A.387B features a strongly worded preemption clause that bars any local municipalities, including city, town, or county government from issuing any local law or ordinance on “all matters pertaining to drug disposal of controlled substances.” The power now rests solely with the State of New York.
“In light of the evidence provided by local scientists at the Energy & Environment Committee of the Erie County Legislature last month which proved that there are traces of antidepressants in fish brains in the Niagara River- a major conduit between the Great Lakes, and in the wake of the opioid epidemic which has ravaged parts of our communities and has taken countless lives due to the overprescription of opioid drugs, I simply cannot understand how the New York State Legislature could be this reckless in passing this bill. This is nothing more than a heavy-handed power grab by Albany to remove the tools of local government to combat both sides of a public health crisis” Burke said.
“For over two years the pharmaceutical lobby has watched local municipalities pass measures to ensure it pays its fair share with regards to safe drug disposal. Now they want to roll back these measures and keep asking more and more of our residents to pay their own tax dollars to safely dispose of medication. Albany has abandoned its duty to the people it is intended to serve and has chosen to side with industry lobbyists. I call on the governor not to do the same” Burke said.