Highlights of the October 4, 2005 meeting
of the
Tompkins County Legislature
The Legislature approved a resolution that calls for local institutions, such as Ithaca High School and Cornell University, that host military recruiters to adhere to a local law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual identity or orientation. The federal law that disallows gays from serving in the military, as well as policies that suppress open expression of sexual orientation, often conflict with institutional and community non-discrimination policy and laws. In Tompkins County, military recruiters may be in violation of the County's local non-discrimination law. In a confrontation between the local and federal laws, the federal level will prevail, but the Legislature is calling on local public institutions to take strong positions of support for inclusion and non-discrimination as a community value. Kathy Luz Herrera, who introduced the resolution, remarked that the military's provision of training and education, as well as a route out of poverty and an opportunity to defend one's country, should not be denied to anyone on the basis of sexual orientation or identity. Later this year, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a challenge to the "Solomon Amendment" of 1995 that requires schools to provide the military the same access to students that other employers enjoy. Cornell University, along with Yale, Columbia, and New York universities, and the universities of Chicago and Pennsylvania, have filed an amicus brief in support of the challenge. The Legislature approved the resolution by a 14 to 1 vote, with Daniel Winch voting no. Contacts: Kathy Luz Herrera, 273-8169; Michael Lane, Chair, Government Operations Committee, 844-8440.

The Legislature unanimously approved an exemption from sales tax for retail purchase of certain solar energy products, such as solar panels. The sales tax exemption - which parallels an exemption allowed by the State - will take effect on December 1, 2005. The Legislature proposed that the exemption sunset, with an opportunity for renewal, on December 1, 2008. Peter Penniman abstained from the vote, explaining that he and his business partner are planning to soon install a solar array on a rental property that he manages.