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Sound Bites: The push to ban flavored vapes

Steven Senne

Good morning!

Attention to all commuters: Public transit executives are ensuring Metro-North riders there are no strikes coming, but union heads say otherwise. Metro-North workers point to low wages despite aid from both the federal and state governments. As a response, Transport Workers Union of America President John Samuelson wrote on Monday that, “we are not playing games.”

Keep reading for a bite-sized look at what we’re hearing.

Gino DiGiovanni, Jr. has been arraigned on charges related to the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. He faces four counts. DiGiovanni, Derby Alderman and Republican mayoral candidate, was released on his own recognizance. He’s been ordered to surrender his weapons to police or a family member.

Connecticut lawmakers are pushing to ban flavored vapes. Nationally, the number of youth using vaping products has increased almost 50%, and local lawmakers say the circumstances in Connecticut are similar. U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) is pushing to fight the trend by banning flavors marketed toward teens.

The suspected Long Island serial killer was taken off suicide watch, according to Suffolk County officials. Rex Heuermann was monitored intensely for almost three weeks after being placed on suicide watch shortly following his arrest on July 13. HIPAA doctrine requires that any information pertaining to the removal of Heuermann from the watchlist remain confidential, and the suspect’s legal representative declined to comment. He pleaded not guilty to killing three women whose bodies were found near Gilgo Beach a decade ago.

The New York State Nurses Association announced 98% of union nurses at St. Catherine of Siena Hospital in Smithtown have voted to authorize a strike. This decision comes as nurses in the hospital have been negotiating since May 30 for pay that is comparable to other hospitals on Long Island as well as for more staff. The hospital belongs to a consortium of six health facilities within the Catholic Health group on Long Island. Two other hospitals, St. Charles and St. Joseph Hospitals, agreed to new contracts earlier this year.

Critics argue that a Connecticut law concerning equitable ownership of cannabis dispensaries favors large corporations. Under the legislation, an individual can only own one dispensary and is allowed to partner with another entity for a second. Larger corporations are able to open two storefronts for every one they already manage. Opponents of the law hold doubts that the system upholds equity for individual proprietors. Lawmakers see it as a “trade-off” in order to provide opportunities for individuals that otherwise would not exist.

After omitting information from his 2021 financial disclosure report, U.S. Rep. Nick LaLota (R-NY) submitted a more detailed report for 2022. Analysis shows LaLota reported multiple line items constituents were not previously aware of, including a $500,000 to $1 million home mortgage. Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-NY) submitted his disclosure alongside LaLota under similar accusations.

An encampment space on Lamberton Street for people experiencing homelessness in New Haven was evacuated and clearedon Monday. Local officials from the Police Department, the city’s non-police crisis response team, the Connecticut Mental Health Center and other service providers arrived early in the morning to assist with evacuation procedures. Residents of the camp expressed frustration at the dismantling of their community while planning their next steps.

A dead humpback whale was found on the shore of Long Beach. The death of the whale comes directly after another dead whale was beached on Friday, almost 60 miles away at Smith Point County Park. At least 15 whales have been killed this year off the coast of New York beaches.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced an initiative Tuesday to combat antisemitism. Together with the county’s Jewish American Advisory Board, Bellone’s office has created a hotline to report acts of antisemitism. The hotline can be reached at the preexistent county’s 311 call center. The announcement comes after the same office announced a subcommittee to fight antisemitism in March.

The Connecticut General Assembly is planning to vote on a bill that will push the presidential primary vote up a month in the calendar. They hope to move the primary vote date from April 30 to April 2 — a move that could give Connecticut more influence in the 2024 election. With both sides of the aisle in agreement, lawmakers believe the vote will hit a few snags.

New York’s congressional districts may be set to be redrawn in November. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee filed the case for a redraw in the Court of Appeals earlier this year after the state was redrawn to result in one of the strongest showings for Republicans in the state in decades. Provided lines are redrawn before the election in 2024, experts say the outcomes of the change could swing voting power to elect more Democrats to Congress.

New York’s lawmakers are pushing for the return of an independent watchdog to monitor campaign contributions. Good government leaders state that there has been little oversight in campaign contributions since the removal of a watchdog in 2020. They argue that the current system incentivizes candidates to break laws concerning contributions.

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Eda Uzunlar (she/her) is a reporter for WSHU.