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Proposed Legislation On Kosher Food, And Computer Hardware For Yeshivas

As we report on page 3, New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and New York State Attorney General Elliot Spitzer have teamed up to produce legislation that protects kosher consumers by requiring those selling food as kosher, to disclose the basis for that representation.

From what we understand, this approach, by building in a strict enforcement mechanism aimed at the truthfulness of the disclosures rather than adherence to specific standards for “kosher,”
would provide meaningful protection to the kosher consuming public without running afoul of federal court decisions. Those decisions threw out New York’s old kosher laws because they were deemed to have effectively codified and enforced religious standards. Also of great interest is the bill’s provision directing the State to maintain a website where kosher consumers can obtain the disclosure information that manufacturers, distributors, stores and caterers are required to provide.

We are also happy to note that Silver and Spitzer have also worked together to introduce legislation that would provide all schools – including yeshivas and other non-public schools - with greater flexibility in spending their state aid. Significantly, for the first time, non-public schools would be permitted to use some of their otherwise category specific aid to purchase computers for their students’ use. This bill was developed pursuant to Spitzer’s Report On Non Public Education issued last year which recommended new approaches for increasing appropriate assistance for non-public school students, including computer hardware aid.

The legislative session is scheduled to end in a few days. We hope to be able to report next week that both of these important pieces of legislation have been enacted into law.

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