Today’s news:

Gianaris bill notifying parents of bedbugs in schools now law

Gov. David Paterson has signed into law a bill that notifies parents of public school students about bedbugs that was first proposed by state Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) in 2007 amid a rash of western Queens infestations.

The assemblyman said he introduced the bill three years ago after students at Astoria’s PS 111 as well as 10 other schools in that neighborhood and Long Island City were bitten by the pesky bugs.

Under the new law, which was signed by Paterson last week, city schools are required to immediately notify the Parent-Teacher Association chapters at their various sites as well as parents of potentially affected children if infestations should be discovered.

“The spread of bedbugs in our city has reached epidemic proportions and has destroyed the quality of life of too many New Yorkers,” Gianaris said. “Education is our most powerful tool to prevent the further spread of these irritating insects.”

In 2007, the city Department of Education had no procedures in place to notify parents if bed bugs were discovered at a school. Gianaris said he sponsored the bill after the DOE would not agree to create its own bedbug rule.

“My vision of government is one that sees problems ahead of time and addresses them,” he said. “But, unfortunately, it often takes time because people need to see there is a problem.

The bill also requires that school health officials send out ´╗┐informational brochures to parents to help them take preventative steps to avoid bedbugs and make informed decisions on the safety of their children.

The passage of the bill arrives amid a recent discovery of the insects in a Times Square movie theater.

The bugs do not pose serious health risks, but leave itchy, red marks on the skin. They typically dwell in mattresses but can also be found under carpets, in walls and in other furniture around the home.

Last week, the pest control company Terminix named New York City as one of the top infested cities in the nation.

“It’s becoming a major problem,” Gianaris said. “The best way to deal with bedbugs is not to get them in the first place. They are notoriously difficult to exterminate. It’s a massive quality-of-life problem.”

State Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn (D-Flushing) has also sponsored legislation to battle bedbugs. Under a bill she co-sponsored, insurance companies would be forced to reimburse renters, homeowners and co-op and condo owners whose homes are infested by the bugs for all costs involved in ridding themselves of the insect.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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