Legislators Back Single-Payer Health Insurance
More than an hour of discussion on the issue followed 40 minutes of public comment, with ten citizens urging Legislature support of the single payer option, many recounting personal stories of how the system has affected them. One of those who spoke was former long-time County Board member Beverly Livesay, who called the issue not partisan and “a crisis to the proportion of (Hurricane) Katrina.” The resolution urges Congress not to tinker with the present profit-based health insurance system, to recognize widespread support for a new public approach and to accomplish “major and long-needed reform”; and states that “no reform bill should be adopted unless it contains a true national single-payer public option.” Legislator Nathan Shinagawa predicted that a single-payer system would significantly reduce administrative costs and would be the only option with the true economies of scale to produce true savings.
Both Legislators Proto and Kathy Luz Herrera expressed concern that the measure, as a member-filed resolution, had not gone through the Legislature’s normal committee process, which Legislator Kiefer said she had not thought necessary since it reaffirmed an earlier position.
Legislator Hattery said that, while the health care issue may not be partisan, there are real differences about how people view the best solution to the problem. Legislator Sigler predicted that a single-payer system would reduce quality of care, with long and unacceptable delays in treatment, and he predicted that “fighting the government will be as difficult as fighting the insurance companies.” An amendment that Sigler proposed which would have called for the single-payer system to be “fair to all”, with all federal and union workers and members of Congress and the Executive Branch included, failed by a 3-10 party-line vote.
Legislature Supports Statewide Ban on Texting While Driving
Legislator Nathan Shinagawa, who advanced both the earlier proposal for a local law and advocacy for the statewide ban, said a state law carries the advantage of addressing the cultural aspect of text messaging through statewide public education programs, noting that many people, especially those under age 25, think that there is nothing wrong with texting while driving. Legislator Sigler stated that, while he agrees that texting while driving is unwise, through its action, the Legislature is “legislating common sense,” with such enforcement taking officers’ time away from more important functions. Legislator Hattery added that there are many dangerous activities that are the focus of public education campaigns that do not have laws prohibiting them. Legislator Carol Chock left open the option of proposing a local law at a later time, should the state not pass a statewide ban in a timely fashion.
Legislators Authorize Agreement to Develop Nation’s First Airport “Green” Master Plan
“Mounting evidence about climate change brings with it an urgency for all of us to protect the environment for future generations,” notes Airport Manager Bob Nicholas. “Through this initiative I hope that we can do our bit and perhaps set an example for other airports to follow.”
The nearly $300,000 agreement with C&S Engineers, Inc. of Syracuse is approved subject to receipt of funding from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and State Department of Transportation. The FAA will support 95% of the cost, with the state paying another 2.5%. The $7,345 local share of project cost will come from airline fee revenue in the airport’s operating budget. The project represents the first time that any airport in the nation has been permitted to use federal Airport Improvement Program funds as part of the master planning process.
Among other actions, the Legislature