Monday, September 13, 2021

HERO Act: COVID-19 safety measures for private sector employers.

Earlier this year, the HERO Act passed in New York State. This law requires all private sector employers to adopt safety standards and workplace procedures that protect workers from COVID-19 or other airborne infectious diseases.

In furtherance of the law, the New York State Department of Labor and Department of Health have developed a new Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Standard, a Model Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Plan, and various industry-specific model plans for the prevention of airborne infectious disease.

These plans must go into effect when an airborne infectious disease is designated by the New York State Commissioner of Health as a highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health.

Employers can choose to adopt the applicable policy template/plan provided by NYS DOL or establish an alternative plan that meets or exceeds the standard’s minimum requirements.

Currently, while private employers must adopt plans as required by the law, as of the date of this writing no designation has been made and plans are not required to be in effect.

Public sector employers are currently exempt from the new state law.

For more information, click here.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Schuyler County to receive up to $121,000 from opioid lawsuit against Johnson and Johnson

Schuyler County will receive up to  $121,000.00  from Johnson & Johnson, the parent company of Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., to treat, reduce and prevent opioid use through a court settlement with the opioid maker.


Meeting in special session on Wednesday (September 8), the County Legislature voted unanimously to accept the settlement and authorized Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman to execute the necessary legal documents on the county’s behalf.


According to Getman, the funds can be used for a variety of restricted and unrestricted purposes.


“Possible uses include supporting  law  enforcement  and  first  responders, treating opioid  addiction,  funding social services and similar efforts,” Getman explained.


The drug maker also agreed to permanently end the manufacture and distribution of opioids across the nation, Getman said.


The funding is part of a $260 million settlement that Johnson & Johnson reached in New York State to finalize lawsuits brought by Schuyler County, the State of New York and others, pertaining to the company’s alleged role in the increase of use and abuse of opioids.


In 2018, Getman, working with law firm Napoli Shkolnik, PLLC as special counsel, filed a lawsuit against approximately thirty defendants, including some of the biggest names in the pharmaceutical industry.  Along with Johnson and Johnson/Janssen, the defendants included: Purdue Pharma L.P.; Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.; Cephalon, Inc.; Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Actavis Pharma, Inc. and Insys Therapeutics, Inc. 


The lawsuit alleged the defendants knew–and had known for years–that opioids were addictive and subject to abuse, particularly when used long-term for chronic non-cancer pain, and should not be used except as a last-resort. However, the lawsuit stated, the defendants spent hundreds of millions of dollars disseminating scientific materials and advertising that misrepresented the risks of opioids’ long-term use.


Schuyler County was one of many local governments that filed lawsuits against the manufacturers and distributors of opioid pain killers. At least 14 counties across New York sued the pharmaceutical companies for what the counties claimed were deceptive marketing practices.


After the counties filed suit, in March 2019, the New York State Attorney General’s office filed its own lawsuit on behalf of the state.   In June, Attorney General Letitia James announced the tentative deal with Johnson and Johnson, calling the largest monetary settlement ever secured by her office.


Schuyler County’s lawsuit against other defendants remains pending, Getman said, with the possibility of more settlements and additional funding to the county still to come. 


 “Over the past few years, despite its small population, Schuyler County has seen an uptick in opioid and heroin use and overdose,” Getman said. “To date, County officials have expended public resources to help its residents battle opioid addiction and prevent further deaths. This settlement is just one step to reimburse the County for its expenses related to the opioid crisis as well as provide the County with financial assistance to continue this battle.”


Johnson and Johnson has stated the settlement was not an admission of liability or wrongdoing by them and the company “remains committed to providing certainty for involved parties and critical assistance for communities in need.”


The lawsuits by Schuyler County and others are part of a tide of litigation over an epidemic linked to nearly 500,000 deaths over the last twenty years. The cases have drawn comparisons to the multistate litigation against tobacco companies in the 1990s.  Those lawsuits were resolved as part of the landmark $206 billion Master Settlement Agreement announced in November 1998 between the tobacco industry and the states’ attorney generals.


A complete copy of Schuyler County’s lawsuit can be found here


A copy of the county’s resolution approving the settlement can be found here.


Monday, September 6, 2021

Second Amendment Legal Update: September, 2021

A monthly update, prepared for the Schuyler County Chapter of S.C.O.P.E. NY, a statewide 501(c)4 organization dedicated to preserving the 2nd Amendment rights for the residents of New York State. For a complete PDF copy of this month's update, click here.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Law Day 2022 Theme Announced

The American Bar Association has announced the theme for Law Day 2022, "Toward a More Perfect Union: The Constitution in Times of Change.”

The Constitution is a dynamic document, as it not only outlines a blueprint for government, but also delegates power, articulates rights, and offers mechanisms for change. It is neither perfect, nor exhaustive, as our nation’s history makes clear. Legislation, court rulings, amendments, lawyers, and “we the people” have built upon those original words across generations to attempt to make the “more perfect Union” more real. That effort continues today, as contemporary leaders and everyday citizens raise their voices as loud as ever to fulfill the promise of the Constitution. Defining and refining those words of the Constitution might be our oldest national tradition, and how each of us works—together—toward a more perfect Union.

For more information, click here.

Monday, August 9, 2021

New York State Releases Caseload Standards for Family Court Public Defense lawyers

The New York State Officie of Indigent Legal Services (OILS) has released Caseload Standards for Parents’ Attorneys in New York State Family Court Mandated
Representation Cases. The standards are intended to cover public defenders, assigned counsel and other attorneys assigned to provide mandated representation for people who cannot afford their own lawyer in various types of family court cases.

The standards include both maximum annual case assignment limits and a minimum average number of hours attorneys should spend on each case.

Cases are broken down into thirteen case categories:

• paternity;
• willful violation of support;
• willful violation other;
• family offense;
• guardianship;
• violation of conditional surrender;
• adoption;
• modification of prior order;
• custody/visitation;
• conditional surrender;
• neglect;
• abuse; and
• TPRs (termination of parental rights).
Approval of the standards is contingent upon the availability of State funding to implement the standards. The full report can be found here.

Monday, August 2, 2021

Second Amendment Legal Update: August, 2021

A monthly update, prepared for the Schuyler County Chapter of S.C.O.P.E. NY, a statewide 501(c)4 organization dedicated to preserving the 2nd Amendment rights for the residents of New York State.

For a complete PDF copy of this month's update, click here.

Monday, July 26, 2021

New law protects New Yorkers from “spam” text messages.

New York state officials have enacted new legislation, expanding New York State’s definition of telemarketing to include text messages.

New Yorkers have protection against unwanted robocalls under state law, but texting was not previously defined as telemarketing, exempting it from those protections. This legislation closes that loophole.

State law originally protected New Yorkers against unwanted robocalls, but text messages were not included under those protections. That stipulation has changed. Now, the definition of “telemarketing” as it pertains to state law also encompasses text messages.

Many New Yorkers saw a rise in unwanted calls and text messages from telemarketers during the pandemic.

A complete copy of the new law can be found here.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Leasing your land for solar power? Know your rights before you sign.

Solar power can offer New Yorkers many potential benefits, including saving money through reduced electricity bills, creating stability during periods of electric rate changes and contributing to a cleaner and healthier community by reducing our carbon footprint. With more and more state residents considering solar power, a number of private companies are looking to develop and initiate construction of new solar projects across the state, including in Schuyler County.

Recently, a number of Schuyler County landowners have reported receiving proposals from one or more energy firms, seeking land for solar facility development. These proposals offer landowners money for an option to lease or purchase land to develop, build and operate a solar power generation and storage facility on the premises. Payments may include an option signing bonus, annual option payments and potential annual lease payments. In some cases, payments may net landowners thousands of dollars.

While the terms of these options may seem very attractive, these agreements are legal documents with potential long-term implications, potentially both positive and negative. Therefore, you should proceed carefully before signing them.

For more information, click here.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Schuyler County, Others, File Generic Drug Price Lawsuit

Schuyler County has joined with over two dozen municipal governments, and others, in suing the makers of generic drugs over alleged price-fixing.


The county, along with local governments in New York and elsewhere, filed an over 1000-page Summons and Complaint on June 30 against more than fifty companies, seeking injunctive relief, damages, and relief from harms that the complaint alleges resulted from an unlawful agreement among the defendants to allocate customers, rig bids, and fix, raise, maintain, and/or stabilize the prices of all of their generic pharmaceutical products,


The lawsuit follows a vote by the County Legislature in 2020, authorizing County Attorney Steven Getman to join forces with Napoli Shkolnik PLLC, a New York City law firm “in the investigation and/or prosecution of any legal claim against manufactures of generic pharmaceuticals and/or their executives based upon their actions in fixing prices, allocating markets, and engaging in other antitrust violations or other wrongdoing with respect to generic pharmaceuticals.”


According to Getman, the lawsuit is pursuing claims in several areas.  These include increased health insurance premiums for county employees, additional workers’ compensation costs and higher costs of pharmaceuticals purchased for use by the county jail, all based upon artificially inflated generic drug prices.


Various government agencies have already commenced suit, Getman said, alleging violations of state and Federal antitrust laws and consumer protection statutes.   


“In 2014, the Department of Justice began an investigation into the pricing of various generic pharmaceuticals,” Getman explained. “In the wake of the Federal investigation, in 2017, the state attorneys’ general of 48 states brought a civil action alleging price fixing, market division, and other antitrust violations by 16 defendant pharmaceutical companies related to fifteen (15) generic prescription drugs.”


“As alleged, the defendants' anticompetitive conduct falls principally into two categories.   First, the defendants, allegedly communicated with each other to determine and agree on how much market share each would control and which customers each competitor was entitled to.  Second, competitors allegedly communicated -- either in person, by telephone, or by text message -- and agreed to collectively raise and/or maintain prices for a particular generic drug.”


The lawsuits, Getman said, now involve over 100 generic drugs and more than fifty pharmaceutical defendants, including Teva, Sandoz, Mylan, Pfizer, Actavis, Amneal, Apotex, Aurobindo, Breckenridge, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, Glenmark, Greenstone, Lannett, Lupin, Par, Taro USA, Upsher-Smith, Wockhardt USA and Zydus.


“As noted, hundreds of generic drugs have been implicated nationwide. Each affected county or municipality can bring an action asserting overpayments for each applicable generic drug,” Getman explained.  “The key question in formulating a lawsuit was determining for which generic drug(s) each county has overpaid, and whether each was direct or indirect purchaser of same.”


According to County Administrator Tim O’Hearn, the lawsuit was filed at no risk to the county, as Napoli Shkolnik is working on contingency basis that covers all costs associated with the lawsuit.

“By going forward with the litigation, the County Legislature hopes to lessen the burden to taxpayers and seeks to hold manufacturers responsible for any unlawful role in the high cost of generic drugs,” O’Hearn said. 


Locally, along with Schuyler County, Chemung, Yates and Livingston Counties are acting as plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Other municipalities in New York and elsewhere are part of the case as well. The case is currently scheduled to be heard in Federal District Court in eastern Pennsylvania.


In addition to the generics case, Schuyler County has been working with Napoli Shkolnik to prosecute a pending action against the manufacturers and distributers of prescription opiates for damages to the county arising out of the fraudulent and negligent marketing and distribution of opiates in and to the county.  That case remains pending in state court.  


A related trial, involving Nassau and Suffolk counties, and the New York State Attorney General’s Office, is now underway on Long Island against several companies accused of fueling the opioid crisis.  The trial on Long Island will be used as a test for the claims made by Schuyler County and other municipalities in New York, as well as an indicator of what may lie ahead for the drug makers, distributors and pharmacies in other states.


A copy of the June 30 complaint is available here.

Monday, July 12, 2021

New COVID-19 Online Resource for Tenants and Attorneys in New York is a new website with self-help resources on evictions and COVID-19 in New York State.

Tenants can access Know Your Rights content and information on available legal aid, including:
• Plain language guides for tenants and the general public, developed in collaboration with grantees under the OAG initiative;
• A legal help directory to assist tenants in connecting with volunteer attorney programs in their region, and
• A list of Frequently Asked Questions about available COVID-19 housing protections
The website also includes an Advocate Gateway with specialized resources for attorneys and other advocates assisting tenants during this time.

For a full announcement of the website launch, and other information, click here.

Monday, July 5, 2021

Second Amendment Legal Update: July, 2021

A monthly update, prepared for the Schuyler County Chapter of S.C.O.P.E. NY, a statewide 501(c)4 organization dedicated to preserving the 2nd Amendment rights for the residents of New York State.

For a complete PDF copy of this month's update, click here.

Monday, June 28, 2021

New York State Driver’s License Suspension Reform Act (DLSRA) in effect June 29

New York State has enacted the Driver’s License Suspension Reform Act (DLSRA), ending the practice of suspending a person’s driver’s license when they do not pay a traffic fine.

As of March 9, 2021, drivers no longer have their licenses suspended for unpaid traffic fines. As of June 29, those suspensions will be cleared from all records.

Suspensions are still permitted for unanswered tickets/missed hearings. However, defendants will be able to clear these suspensions by entering into payment plans, which also go into effect June 29.

Supporters of the new measure have argued that suspending driver’s licenses because of unpaid traffic fines "criminalizes poverty and perpetuates structural racism in the criminal legal system." Some critics of the statute have argued that the suspension of the license was a strong incentive for people to actually go clear their outstanding tickets.

A complete copy of the new law can be found here.

Monday, June 21, 2021

New York announces new Virtual Court Navigator Program for people who don’t have an attorney

The New York State Court System's Office for Justice Initiatives has announced a free Virtual Court Navigator Program for people who do not have a lawyer.

It is a free program, designed to help people without an attorney who either have or would like to start a court case in: Erie County Surrogate’s Court, Civil Supreme and Surrogate’s Courts in Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, and Westchester Counties.

Virtual Court Navigators are specially trained, supervised and available to help court users prepare for virtual appearances, file court forms, organize court papers, get answers to general questions, find community programs and services, refer people to legal service providers, navigate the court’s website, and more.

The New York State Courts Access to Justice Program "is dedicated to improving equal access to justice for New Yorkers of low-income and modest means who cannot afford an attorney by making it easier to navigate the court system. The NYS Courts Access to Justice program develops resources, including self-help services and pro bono programs, to equalize the playing field for all litigants."

For more information about the Virtual Court Navigator Pilot Program click here.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Schuyler County passes Youth Hunting Law

Schuyler County has become the latest county in New York State to allow the hunting of deer by 12-and 13-year-olds with a firearm or crossbow for the coming fall season.

Meeting in regular session on Monday (June 14), the county legislature voted unanimously to enact a Local Law that approves a pilot program allowing 12- and 13-year old youths to do so through 2023 under the supervision of an experienced adult hunter.

Prior to its passage, Schuyler County Sheriff William Yessman, Undersheriff Breck Spaulding, County Clerk Theresa Philbin and County Attorney Steven Getman all endorsed the law. In addition, members of the community, including a retired New York State Conservation officer, spoke in favor of the law at Monday’s meeting. No one spoke in opposition to the legislation.

The law as passed states that “deer hunting is a valued tradition for many Schuyler County families, providing quality food to county residents and reducing the negative impacts of overabundant deer populations on our agriculture, forests, and communities.”

As of June 6, the number of counties statewide that had opted into youth hunting totaled 18, according to the state Department of Conservation website. Other counties in the region that have opted in, the website shows, include Yates, Steuben, Chemung and Livingston.

These counties will be listed in the DEC’s upcoming hunting/trapping guide, which will be released soon. As more counties pass resolutions, they will be added to a regularly updated map on the DEC’s Junior Big Game Hunting website.

A complete copy of Schuyler County’s local law can be found here

Monday, June 14, 2021

2021 Schuyler County High School Graduate Essay Contest Announced

The Schuyler County Republican Committee is inviting local high school graduates to enter its 2021 Constitutional Essay Contest.

Three graduates will be selected to win $500 awards. Winners will be selected based upon an essay on one of the following topics:

1. The Constitution: Is it past its expiration date?
2. The Bill of Rights: Do we need all 10 Amendments?
3. The Intersection of the First and Second Amendments: Do they depend on each other?

Judges for the contest will be Schuyler County District Attorney Joseph Fazzary, County Attorney Steven Getman and Public Defender Valerie Gardner.

The contest is open to any 2021 high school graduate (including home-schooled students) legally residing in Schuyler County who will be continuing their education or entering military service after graduation.

Entries must be submitted prior to 12:00 AM on July 4, 2021. Winners will be announced at the Schuyler County Republican Committee meeting on July 21. They will receive their awards at the August 18 committee meeting.

For more information, and a complete copy of the contest rules and entry forms, click here.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Second Amendment Legal Update: June, 2021

A monthly update, prepared for the Schuyler County Chapter of S.C.O.P.E. NY, a statewide 501(c)4 organization dedicated to preserving the 2nd Amendment rights for the residents of New York State.

For a complete PDF copy of this month's update, click here.

Monday, May 31, 2021

Schuyler County: Notice of Public Hearing, Proposed Local Law A, June 14, 2021

PLEASE TAKE NOTICE, that there has been introduced before the Legislature of the County of Schuyler, New York, on May 10, 2021, Local Law Intro. A of the Year 2021 titled “A Local Law Authorizing 12 And 13-Year-Old Licensed Hunters To Hunt Deer With A Firearm Or Crossbow During Hunting Season With The Supervision Of An Adult Licensed”.

NOTICE IS FURTHER GIVEN, that the Schuyler County Legislature will conduct a public hearing on the proposed Local Law at 6:30 p.m. on June 14, 2021, in Room 120 at the Human Services Complex, 323 Owego Street, Montour Falls, NY 14865, at which time all persons interested will be heard.

The complete text of the proposed local law is reproduced below.

LOCAL LAW INTRO. A OF THE Y... by Steven Getman

Monday, May 24, 2021

National Safety Month: Schuyler County Scope To Make Free Gun Locks Available Through Partnership With County Attorney

Montour Falls, NY (May 24, 2021)—In recognition of June being National Safety Month, the Schuyler County Chapter of Shooters Committee on Political Education (SCOPE) in conjunction with the Office of Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman, is again giving away free cable-style gun locks to Schuyler County families.

The locks can be obtained from the County Attorney’s Office by calling 607.535.8121 during normal business hours and scheduling a pickup time. One lock will be available per household and will be provided on a “first come, first serve” basis. Supplies are limited.

“We are pleased to have the Schuyler County Attorney’s Office as a partner in this National Safety Month program” said Daneen Phillips, Schuyler County SCOPE Secretary. “The mission of SCOPE is to educate the public on the importance of our Constitutional right to keep and bear arms, as well as to make every effort to educate anti-gun politicians. We can help accomplish this by promoting responsible voluntary gun safety measures for gun owners that do not conflict with the Second Amendment.”

“Partnering with County Attorney Getman allows SCOPE to participate in a countywide effort to promote gun safety as a critical part of home safety and increase awareness of just one of Governor Cuomo’s many gun laws. We are 100% membership funded and made up of concerned gun owners and conservation clubs across New York State.”

“In particular, this year, we want to focus on getting the message out to women gun owners and their families,” Phillips said. “Female gun ownership has been on a firm ascent and women are considered the fastest-growing segment in the gun-ownership population.”

According to Getman, the giveaway will help ensure that gun owners are in compliance with New York’s strict firearms storage laws, which require them to lock up their firearms while living in a home with someone under the age of 16.

“We encourage county residents to pick up a free lock so that they can securely store their firearm,” said Getman. “The locks fit on most types of handguns, rifles and shotguns. The cable is threaded through the weapon and blocks the barrel or the use of ammunition. It’s secured by a padlock and key.”

“We want to help minimize demands on health care workers and first respondents by emphasizing home safety, and firearm safety in particular, so together we can prevent accidents,” Getman said. “The goal is to prevent a young child or any other unauthorized person from accessing a firearm in the home.”

Phillips and Getman noted that the locks have been donated by SCOPE and, therefore, there is no county charge to the taxpayers for this service.

Observed annually in June, National Safety Month highlights leading causes of preventable injury and death on a national scale, providing the latest information and resources in an effort to help keep more people safe. Hunting and gun rights groups, such as SCOPE, typically emphasize gun safety as a critical part of home safety.

SCOPE is a non-partisan statewide 501(c)4 organization dedicated to educating the public about firearm ownership, Second Amendment rights and legislation. The Schuyler County chapter’s meetings are held on the 2nd Thursday of the month at 7:00 pm in January, March, May, October and as necessary at the Montour Falls Moose Lodge, 2096 Co Rd 14, Montour Falls, NY 14865.

The Schuyler County Attorney is the legal advisor to the county legislature, county administrator and other county officials. In addition, that office prosecutes family court cases of child abuse and neglect, juvenile delinquency and other civil matters on behalf of county officials.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Welcome to Medicare program available to Schuyler County residents

Schuyler County residents can learn about Medicare, and all its parts, to assist them in their initial enrollment decisions.

The State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) National Technical Assistance Center, is hosting a national, online “Welcome to Medicare” for people getting ready to retire, new to Medicare, and/or their caregivers on June 23, 2021, from 3:00 – 7:00 p.m. ET.

There will be presentations, pre-recorded educational videos, materials available for download, and virtual exhibits.

To register, click here.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Schuyler Officials Support Proposed Youth Hunting Law

Sheriff William Yessman, Undersheriff Breck Spaulding, County Clerk Theresa Philbin and County Attorney Steven Getman have all endorsed a Local Law that approves a pilot program in Schuyler County allowing 12 and 13 year old youths to hunt deer through 2023.

The Resolution and Local Law are on the agenda for introduction at the Schuyler County Legislative Meeting at 6:30 pm on Monday May 10, 2021 in Montour Falls.

The proposed local law finds that “deer hunting is a valued tradition for many Schuyler County families, providing quality food to county residents and reducing the negative impacts of overabundant deer populations on our agriculture, forests, and communities.”

Under the proposed law, youth hunters aged 12-13 will now be allowed to hunt deer with a firearm or crossbow under the supervision of an experienced adult hunter. Currently, young hunters that are 12 or 13 years old can already hunt big game using archery equipment and can hunt small game with a firearm; however, until now, New York had been the only state to not allow these young hunters to hunt big game.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Second Amendment Legal Update: May, 2021

A monthly update, prepared for the Schuyler County Chapter of S.C.O.P.E. NY, a statewide 501(c)4 organization dedicated to preserving the 2nd Amendment rights for the residents of New York State.

For a complete PDF copy of this month's update, click here.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Schuyler County Commemorates Saturday May 1 as “Law Day”

The Schuyler County Legislature has recognized as the Law Day 2021 theme “Advancing the Rule of Law Now.”

The legislature passed a resolution at its April 12, 2021 meeting, recognizing “Law Day” as an occasion of public acknowledgement of our Nation’s heritage of justice, liberty, and equality under the law. The resolution was submitted to the legislature by Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman.

“The Rule of Law rests upon the idea that no one is so important as to be above the law and conversely no one is so insignificant to be beneath the law,” Getman wrote. “The United States was founded on the principle that adherence to the Rule of Law expands, rather than limits, the opportunities for freedom.”

In passing the resolution, the legislature found that “promoting public understanding of the roots of our freedom are an important component in the civic education of the citizens of the United States, the State of New York and the County of Schuyler.”

The American Bar Association selects an annual theme for each Law Day. Law Day is an annual commemoration first held in 1957 when the American Bar Association envisioned a special national day to mark our nation’s commitment to the rule of law. The following year, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first Law Day Proclamation. Law Day was made official in 1961 when Congress issued a joint resolution designating May 1 as the official date for celebrating Law Day.

A copy of Schuyler County’s resolution “Recognizing and Commemorating May 1, 2021 as ‘Law Day’ in Schuyler County” is available below.


Monday, April 26, 2021

New York State extends availability of Veterans Treatment Courts

New York State officials have enacted legislation extending access to Veterans Treatment Courts (VTC) throughout the state.

These courts connect justice-involved veterans to appropriate services in a court setting, surrounded by an interdisciplinary team. These include the judge, court staff, prosecutors, treatment/service providers, defense attorneys, probation, law enforcement, volunteer veteran peer mentors, and representatives from the U.S. Department of Veterans Services, all of whom work collaboratively to help veterans.

Studies have indicated that VTCs reduce recidivism and alcohol and drug use and promote positive life changes that allows veterans to re-enter their communities in a positive and meaningful way, often with assistance of VA therapies.

Prior to this legislation, there were only approximately 33 VTCs in 25 counties. Due to the lack of a VTC in over half of the counties of the state, about one-third of New York veterans lacked access to a VTC.

The new law authorizes the transfer of cases from jurisdictions without VTCs to adjacent counties with VTCs and requires the chief administrative judge to establish new VTCs, to the extent practicable.

Monday, April 19, 2021

FEMA to Help Pay Funeral Costs for COVID-19-related Deaths

In April, FEMA will begin providing financial assistance for funeral expenses incurred after Jan. 20, 2020 for deaths related to coronavirus (COVID-19).

To be eligible for COVID-19 funeral assistance:

• The applicant must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien who incurred funeral expenses after Jan. 20, 2020 for a death attributed to COVID-19.
• If multiple individuals contributed toward funeral expenses, they should apply under a single application as applicant and co-applicant. FEMA will also consider documentation from other individuals not listed as the applicant and co-applicant who may have incurred funeral expenses as part of the registration for the deceased individual.
• An applicant may apply for multiple deceased individuals.
• The COVID-19-related death must have occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.
• This assistance is limited to a maximum financial amount of $9,000 per funeral and a maximum of $35,500 per application.
• Funeral assistance is intended to assist with expenses for funeral services and interment or cremation.

For more information, click here.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Second Amendment Legal Update: April, 2021

A monthly update, prepared for the Schuyler County Chapter of S.C.O.P.E. NY, a statewide 501(c)4 organization dedicated to preserving the 2nd Amendment rights for the residents of New York State.

For a complete PDF copy of this month's update, click here.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Schuyler County to take up resolution on cryptocurrency mining regulations

The Schuyler County Legislature will take up a resolution at its monthly meeting (Monday, April 12), calling on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to study and develop regulations for cryptocurrency mining.

In addition, the proposed resolution asks the state legislature to mandate that all such cryptocurrency mining operations permitted within the state operate solely on renewable energy, such as wind, solar, geothermal or hydropower.

The resolution was introduced by Legislator Mark Rondinaro (R-District 7). It was drafted by County Planning Director Kristin Van Horn, with input from County Attorney Steven Getman and the County’s Environmental Management Council. It targets mining operations having peak power demand of more than 50 kilowatts.

According to the resolution, cryptocurrency is a digital currency, which is mined through the use of server farms employing data processing equipment. These servers are “highly energy consumptive,” the resolution notes, and mining operations gravitate toward areas with cheap, abundant electricity sources. This type of power generation may not always be regulated under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act and New York State does not currently have regulations on cryptocurrency mining, the resolution states.

If passed, copies of Schuyler County’s resolution will be forwarded to state officials, requesting further action on potential regulations.

The resolution is directed at operations statewide and does not single out any specific cryptocurrency mining facility, such as the Greenidge Generation plant and bitcoin mining facility in neighboring Yates County. That facility recently began to mine the cryptocurrency bitcoin and is reportedly seeking a permit from the Town of Torrey Planning Board to expand. Opponents of the expansion claim the additional computers will have adverse impacts on the environment. Greenidge officials have disputed that claim.

The April 12 meeting of the Schuyler County Legislature will be held at 6:30 pm at the County Human Services Complex, 323 Owego Street, Montour Falls, NY. The public is encouraged and invited to attend. All COVID-related social distancing and masking rules will apply.

A complete copy of the proposed resolution can be seen below.


Monday, April 5, 2021

The top consumer scams perpetrated against New Yorkers in 2020

New York State officials have released a list of the top consumer scams perpetrated against New Yorkers in 2020, many of which had to do with the COVID-19 public health crisis, in addition to a variety of tips on how New Yorkers can avoid COVID-19 scams in the future.

After analyzing consumer complaints received statewide throughout 2020, the following were found to be the top 10 consumer complaints by category:

• Internet-Related (internet services and service providers, data privacy and security, digital media, data breaches, frauds through internet manipulation)
• COVID-19 Price Gouging (online and brick and mortar gouging of prices for items such as hand sanitizer, masks, gloves, bathroom tissue, food)
• Landlord/Tenant Disputes (security deposit releases, tenant-harassment)
• Health Clubs (continuous charging of fees while clubs were closed, inability to cancel memberships, refunds not provided, no response from clubs)
• Automobile (sales, service, financing, repairs)
• Consumer Services (security systems, tech repairs, immigration services, employment training)
• Retail Sales (any sale of goods: food, clothing, rent-to-own, online orders)
• Credit (debt collection, credit card billing, debt settlement and debt relief, payday loans, credit repair, credit reporting agencies, identity theft)
• Utilities (wireless and residential phones, energy servicers and suppliers, cable and satellite)
• Travel (inability to cancel or lack of refunds for cancellations required by COVID-19 travel restrictions)
Consumers can learn more about COVID-19 resources and consumer scams here.

Fraud victims should report instances of fraud to the New York State Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau or by calling local law enforcement officials.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Bill Limiting Solitary Confinement in Prisons Gains Passage in Legislature

Copyright Charter Communications:
A bill meant to limit the use of solitary confinement in New York's prison and jail facilities was approved Tuesday in the state Assembly.

The measure won the backing of the Democratic-controlled chamber after an hours-long, emotional debate over the measure to curtail the use of segregated confinement. Supporters of scaling back the punishment have likened it to torture.

The bill was passed by the New York State Senate on Thursday (March 18) and now goes to Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has previously opposed the legislation.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct releases 2021 report

Pursuant to the Judiciary Law of the State of New York, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct has released its Annual Report of activities, covering the period from January 1 through December 31, 2020.

The Commission is the independent agency designated by the State

Constitution to review complaints of misconduct against judges and justices of the State Unified Court System and, where appropriate, render public disciplinary determinations of admonition, censure or removal from office. Its objective is to enforce high standards of conduct for judges, "who must be free to act independently, on the merits and in good faith, but also must be held accountable should they commit misconduct."

A complete copy of the report is available here.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Town of Ovid approves Public Health Emergency Continuation of Operations Protocol

This Pandemic Plan has been developed in accordance with the amended New York State Labor Law section 27-c and New York State Education Law paragraphs k and l of subdivision 2 of section 2801-a (as amended by section 1 of part B of chapter 56 of the laws of 2016), as applicable.

The plan was developed based on best practices and guidance available largely as a result of the COVID19 Pandemic. The plan is intended to provide ongoing guidance for the current pandemic as well as future guidance for any other infectious disease outbreaks requiring a state and/or county emergency declaration.

No content of this plan is intended to impede, infringe, diminish, or impair the rights of us or town valued employees under any law, rule, regulation, or collectively negotiated agreement, or the rights and benefits which accrue to employees through collective bargaining agreements, or otherwise diminish the integrity of the existing collective bargaining relationship. The Town currently has no collective bargaining agreements.

This plan has been approved in accordance with requirements applicable to the agency, jurisdiction, authority, or district, as represented by the signature of the authorized individual below. The undersigned attests that this plan has been approved and represents the most current version. All previous versions are obsolete.

As the authorized official of the Town of Ovid...this Pandemic Plan has been developed, approved, and placed in full effect in accordance with S8617B/A10832 which amends New York State Labor Law section 27-c and New York State Education Law paragraphs k and l of subdivision 2 of section 2801-a (as amended by section 1 of part B of chapter 56 of the laws of 2016), as applicable, to address public health emergency planning requirements.


Town of Ovid, New York CONTINUATION OF OPERATIONS PROTOCOL by Steven Getman on Scribd

Monday, March 15, 2021

Law Day 2021 theme announced: "Advancing the Rule of Law Now."

The American Bar Association has announced that the theme for Law Day 2021 is "Advancing the Rule of Law Now."

"The rule of law is the bedrock of American rights and liberties—in times of calm and unrest alike," the organization noted. "The 2021 Law Day theme—Advancing the Rule of Law, Now—reminds all of us that we the people share the responsibility to promote the rule of law, defend liberty, and pursue justice."

The Rule of Law rests upon the idea that no person is so important as to be above the law and conversely no person is so insignificant to be beneath the law. The United States was founded on the principle that voluntary adherence to the Rule of Law expands, rather than limits, the opportunities for freedom.

The United States Congress has statutorily designated May 1 as the annual day for commemoration of Law Day. Law Day is held to celebrate the role of law in our society and to cultivate a deeper understanding of the legal profession.

For more information, click here.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Making a Parental Designation: Options available if parents are unable to temporarily care for their children.

The article, “Parental Designation: A Way of Planning for the Expected and Unexpected,” suggests how making a “parental designation” under General Obligations Law 5-1551, can be an option for parents who need to make alternative living arrangements for their children without surrendering parental rights or involving Child Protective Services (CPS).

The option is not available to everyone. It requires having a person who is willing and able to take on the responsibility of being a “designee.” In addition, it will not prevent an investigation or court proceedings that might arise under the Social Services Law, the Family Court Act or the Penal Law.

The specific requirements for drafting a valid “designation” can be found in General Obligations Law 5-1552. In addition, a pre-printed form can be found here (forms are not a substitute for accurate legal advice).

Persons interested in exploring the “parental designation” option are encouraged to consult competent legal counsel of their own choosing.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Second Amendment Legal Update: March, 2021

A monthly update, prepared for the Schuyler County Chapter of S.C.O.P.E. NY, a statewide 501(c)4 organization dedicated to preserving the 2nd Amendment rights for the residents of New York State.

For a complete PDF copy of this month's update, click here.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

OSHA Issues Stronger Workplace COVID-19 Safety Guidance

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released updated guidance to assist most employers and workers with implementing a coronavirus prevention program and mitigating the risk of the spread of coronavirus.

The guidance titled, “Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace” (Guidance) was prepared to comply with an Executive Order issued on January 21, directing the federal government to take “swift action to reduce the risk that workers may contract COVID-19 in the workplace.”

The complete document can be found here.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Ovid Town Board Offers Tax Relief to Seniors, Disabled.

The Ovid Town Board has unanimously adopted two local laws to provide partial property tax exemptions to senior citizens and resident property owners of the town with disabilities who have limited incomes.

Meeting via “Zoom” meeting, the town board determined at its regular meeting (Wed 2/10/21) that qualified property owners should be partially exempt from town real estate taxes on a sliding scale, based on income. Under the scale, persons with maximum income of $18,000.00 can be eligible for a fifty percent (50%) exemption, while those with higher incomes, up to $25,999.00 can receive exemptions ranging from forty-five (45%) to ten (10%) percent.

One law covered the senior exemption. The other set forth the exemption for disabled persons. Under the local laws, the sliding scale can be adjusted by resolution in the future, if the town board determines it appropriate to do so. Application for exemptions must be made annually to the Town Assessor's Office.

The local laws were drafted by Town Attorney Steven Getman at the request of Town Supervisor Joe Borst. All members of the town board voted to support the exemptions.

In addition to Borst, the members of the town board are Mark Couch, Erik Holmberg, John Hubbard and Carrie Wheeler-Carmenatty. The town’s assessor is Anne Morgan.

Each local law is effective upon filing with the New York Secretary of State.

A copy of the draft minutes of the town board’s February 10 meeting, containing the text of both local laws, can be found at the town's website.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Second Amendment Legal Update: February, 2021

A monthly update, prepared for the Schuyler County Chapter of S.C.O.P.E. NY, a statewide 501(c)4 organization dedicated to preserving the 2nd Amendment rights for the residents of New York State.

For a complete PDF copy of this month's update, click here.

Monday, February 1, 2021

New York: Large Weddings Allowed to Resume with Local Health Approval

New York State officials have announced that larger capacity weddings will be allowed to resume on March 15, subject to approval by local health departments (LHD).

Events can be held at 50% capacity with a limit of 150 attendees. All patrons attending the event are required to be tested for COVID-19. Local officials are awaiting additional guidance about the role that they are expected to play in approving these ceremonies, as well as the state’s testing parameters.

More coverage is available here.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Schuyler County “Bridging Community Connections” Event

Schuyler County officials, in conjunction with other state and local agencies, will be hosting a virtual panel discussion on “Bridging Community Connections,” and community resources available to youth and families living in Schuyler County.

The online event is Thursday, February 25, 2021 at 10:00 am. The keynote presentation will be by Jutta Dotterweich, and will focus on COVID-19’s impact on the emotional well-being of adolescents. The event will also be recorded for later viewing.

The registration deadline is February 19. The first 100 registrants will receive a “Bridging Communities” gift bag.

Interested community members can register for event by clicking here.

The event is sponsored by partnerships with the Schuyler County Youth Bureau, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Workforce New York, Council on Alcoholism and Addiction in the Finger Lakes, Glove House, Inc. and Catholic Charities of Chemung and Schuyler Counties.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Schuyler County teen sentenced for sexually abusing two children


A fourteen-year-old Town of Tyrone resident was placed in juvenile detention for eighteen months by the Schuyler County Family Court on Tuesday, following a judge’s determination that he sexually abused two young children last year.

The teen, whose name was not released because of his age, was found to be a juvenile delinquent on two counts of Sexual Abuse First Degree, a Class D Felony, and ordered into the custody of the Commissioner of Social Services, for placement in a residential treatment facility.

The case was prosecuted by the office of Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman. According to Getman, the charges stemmed from incidents in December, in which the teen allegedly had sexual contact with two children, ages eight and nine.

The teen was charged following an investigation by the New York State Police.

Assistant County Attorney Vinton Stevens represented Getman’s office at Tuesday’s hearing. At the hearing, Stevens submitted evidence that the teen was a “high risk” and required placement outside the home for the protection of the community.

The teen was represented by Ithaca attorney Kevin Kelly, through New York State’s assigned counsel for children program.

After hearing from the attorneys, Schuyler County Family Court Judge Matthew Hayden ordered the teen placed with the Commissioner of Social Services for a period of eighteen months.

Hayden also entered an order of protection, directing the teen to have no contact with his victims.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Blowers Re-Elected Chair of Schuyler County Legislature

Republican Carl H. Blowers, of Montour Falls, was re-elected Chair of the Schuyler County Legislature at its annual reorganizational meeting held Wednesday.  The vote was unanimous.

In other action, the legislature unanimously acknowledged the reappointment of the deputy election commissioners (Kathryn Elkins, Democrat and Kristina Vondracek, Republican),  and reappointed Gary M. Emerson as County Historian.

Tim O’Hearn of Watkins Glen, remains as County Administrator, while Stacy Husted, of Montour Falls, continues as clerk of the legislature and Steven Getman,  of Watkins Glen, continues as Schuyler County Attorney.

The County of Schuyler is governed by an eight-person legislature, headed by its Chair.  Members serve staggered four-year terms.    The legislature, in turn, appoints various department heads to oversee the county’s day to day operations, including the county administrator, county attorney and clerk to the legislature.

The current members of the legislature are James W.D. Howell, Jr., Gary Gray, David M. Reed, Michael L. Lausell, Mark F. Rondinaro, Van A. Harp, Philip C. Barnes and Carl H. Blowers, Chairman.

The next regular meeting of the legislature will be Monday, January 11, 2021 at 6:30 pm.

Monday, January 4, 2021

Second Amendment Legal Update: January, 2021

A monthly update, prepared for the Schuyler County Chapter of S.C.O.P.E. NY, a statewide 501(c)4 organization dedicated to preserving the 2nd Amendment rights for the residents of New York State.

For a complete PDF copy of this month's update, click here.