It was a busy day Thursday for the Erie County Legislature as it passed legislation to regulate pawn shops, supported earlier drinking hours on Sunday and asked Albany to require minimum staffing in hospitals and nursing homes.
After months of tweaking a proposal to control pawn shops and other stores which purchase valuable material, legislators approved a weaker plan to control pawn shops. Details include holding the material for two weeks so it won't be melted down or sold before cops can check.
Police say stolen property can be used to sustain a drug habit, an increasing problem. Legislator Peter Savage says 14-days hold is needed and will help deal with crime and addiction.
"In our hearing, from chiefs of police from all over Erie County, first ring suburbs to the rural about the issues that they have had tracking down stolen property, the issues they have had dealing with the problems of addiction and by passing this law today, we are not only protecting our citizenry, but we are ensuring that we are doing it in a comprehensive manner," Savage said.
The legislation goes to County Executive Mark Poloncarz for a public hearing and a decision.
Legislators also want Albany to end a ban on selling liquor before noon on Sunday, what's called the "Mimosa Resolution."
"One of the founding tenants of this country is separation of church and state. Regardless of the history of these blue laws and why they were enacted, it doesn't matter," said Lorigo. "There are many other days that other religions hold Sabbath. Should we stop selling alcohol on Friday nights because [for] the Hebrew community that's their Sabbath?"
While legislators passed the request to Albany for minimum staffing, the debate led to some serious name-calling between Majority Leader Joseph Lorigo and Legislator Patrick Burke, building on an argument from an earlier morning hearing.