BY MICHAEL RICONDA
NEW CITY – Two laws passed by the County Legislature to regulate drone use and the sale of “toxic toys” last Tuesday have been rejected by County Executive Ed Day, who stated on Thursday that the restrictions were over-broad and unenforceable.
The laws were returned “unsigned but not disapproved,” meaning they were not sanctioned by Day but will become law without his signature. Hence, the rejections are not technically vetoes and no override will be required before the bills pass into law.
In the case of the drone law, which applies a fine as high as $1,000 or up to a year in prison on misdemeanor charges for anybody who flies a drone over another’s property without permission, Day argued the law was so ambiguous it would encompass hobbyists with remote-controlled aircraft along with more technically complex vehicles.
As such, he argued it could expose Rocklanders to criminal culpability even for unintentional violations of the law. Day also objected to enforcement of the law, which he said would not be pursued on the basis of actual harm and exposes property-renters to criminal culpability.
The drone law, which also restricts unsanctioned use of drones within 100 feet of law enforcement and government buildings, schools and houses of worship, was initially crafted by Legislator Jay Hood Jr. in consultation with Sheriff Louis Falco, both of whom had expressed concerns about drones being used by peeping toms or other criminals. In response to the refusal to sign, Hood stated the rejection did not constitute a veto and affirmed the law would go into affect regardless.
In the case of the toxic toy legislation, which would impose fines of up to $1,000 for in-county sales of toys and clothing containing substances such as arsenic, lead, mercury, and benzene, Day maintained the law would have been impossible to enforce, expensive and prohibitive for businesses required to comply with the regulation.
Specifically, Day argued the law so broadly criminalizes uses of the substances that even trace amounts would mean liability. Day added that exemptions for charities, second-hand stores, internet sales, yard sales and in-person transactions were inconsistent and would mean enforcement would disproportionately affect sales to middle and upper class families.
“While this bill makes a genuine attempt to address the safety concerns of toxins in toys, the ambiguous restrictions proposed in this law are either ridiculously expensive or completely unenforceable,” Day argued. “Without any basis in established science, this bill cannot mitigate the potential health risks associated with the use of everyday children’s products, especially in the most vulnerable neighborhoods.”