Columbia County Department of Human Services Director Michael Cole is speaking out against the NY SAFE Act, the gun control legislation passed by the state legislature last month. Cole said the new law will be a burden on his department and may require the department to hire another employee to handle additional paperwork.
In statements made to the Health and Medical Services Committee of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors Wednesday, Cole said the new reporting requirements would add a “formality” to work which is already done by the department, which oversees county-run mental health services. The legal mandate kicks in March 16. He said he is not sure how much the new regulations could cost the county. “It’s not money well spent and it’s not funded,” he said.
In addition, Cole said he objected to the legislation because it increases the “stigma” on the mentally ill. “We’re trying to increase access and decrease stigma,” said Cole.
Last week, the Board of Supervisors decided not to act in support or against the NY SAFE Act. Some county legislatures around the state have been taking up resolutions against the law. On Wednesday, Board of Supervisors Chairman Patrick Grattan said the county may reconsider voting on such a resolution.
“We are considering everything,” he said. Grattan said he has received about two dozen emails and some phone calls on the issue. “We’re listening to everybody (who) has a comment on it.”