2016-02-10 / Political Page

Maloney Municipal Bond Bill Passes House Of Reps

A bipartisan bill sponsored by Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney to protect financial institution investments in local communities by including investment grade municipal bonds in bank liquidity buffers, has been passed by the House of Representatives.

Maloney said her bill was advanced to correct a recent federal regulation, which she described as a “regulatory misstep,” which discouraged banks and financial institutions from holding municipal debt. Also many in the financial community were concerned the regulatory policy would force governments to reduce or even end projects that are financed with municipal bonds.

The Queens/Manhattan Democrat explained that in the wake of the 2008 economic downturn, federal regulators adopted international banking standards that require banks to have enough High- Quality Liquid Assets (HQLA) to cover their cash outflows for 30 days in case of a future financial meltdown. Unfortunately, she said, under the new banking rules, municipal bonds are not – and cannot be – considered liquid assets and therefore cannot be included under the Liquid Coverage Ratio.

The lawmaker explained: “Democrats and Republicans understand that this bill is a big win for states and cities across the country and our economy. Without this fix, critical local infrastructure and other projects could lack the financing they need to go forward, costing us jobs and hurting local communities. The decision to exclude investment grade municipal bonds from the liquidity buffer [LCR] was senseless, and municipalities across the country were being hurt as a result. The Federal Reserve has concluded a fix is necessary and there is strong bipartisan consensus in support of correcting this problem.”

The co-sponsor with Maloney on the bill, Congressman Luke Messer, an Indiana Republican, stated:

“If our local leaders decide it’s important to build a new school, hospital, bridge or road for their residents, a federal regulatory misstep shouldn’t stand in their way. This bill helps ensure cash-strapped school districts and municipalities will continue to have access to bonds to finance projects they think are best for their communities.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio commented: “New York City’s municipal bonds help keep our city running – from our infrastructure to our schools to our parks and more – while making for strong investments.” He added: “This bill will help ensure a fair and equal approach to municipal bonds and encourage the strong investment NYC and communities around the country need.”

Also praising Maloney’s legislation, Dean Fuleihan, Director, NYC Office of Management & Budget, stated: “The city strongly supports legislation that would include municipal securities within the definition of High Quality Liquid Assets. For municipalities, which depend on the sale of bonds to finance critical infrastructure improvements, it is very important that banks be permitted to recognize the strength and marketability of those bonds.”

PERALTA PRAISES CUOMO’S ACTION: State Senator Jose Peralta (D–East Elmhurst) applauded Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s initiative to expand opportunities for minority- and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs) to benefit from state contracts connected with the LaGuardia Airport Redevelopment Project. Peralta, whose district includes the airport in East Elmhurst, added, that as part of the governor’s initiative, an outreach event will take place in Manhattan tomorrow (Feb. 11). To register, visit the following link: www.panynj.gov/events/mwbe-forum.nyc.2016/index.cfm.

Peralta stated: “For far too long, minority and women-owned business enterprises have been the subject of discrimination when it comes to public contract opportunities. We must ensure that businesses owned by women and minorities are able to receive their piece of the state contracts pie. I applaud Governor Cuomo’s efforts to make sure LaGuardia Airport’s multi-billion dollar project meets the 30 percent MWBE goal that the Governor set statewide. This series of outreach events will encourage women and minority business owners to become certified as MWBE businesses, as well as apply for New York State contracts.”

SOME QUEENS LAWMAKERS SCORE BIG ON ENVIRONMENT SCORECARD: Councilman Costa Constantinides (D–Astoria) scored a perfect 100 for his work as the Environment Protection Committee Chairman, and another 100 for his environment-conscious votes in general, where he was joined by fellow Queens lawmakers Elizabeth Crowley (D–Glendale), Jimmy Van Bramer (D–Sunnyside) and Donovan Richards.

The ratings and honors were issued by the New York League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV), as it released its 2015 New York City Council Environmental Scorecard. All other Queens councilmembers received passing grades. The scorecard “highlights the performance of every councilmember on the previous year’s 12 key environmental issues. These include: clean energy, public health, transportation and more. Priority bills include: legislation to reduce single-use carryout bag consumption; to prohibit the sale and distribution of children’s toys containing known toxic chemicals; and a ban on microbeads in over-the-counter cosmetic and personal care products.

The highlights include:

Over 1/4 of the 51 member Council scored a perfect 100.

The average score this year was 75, down from 80 last year.

Brooklyn delegation was highest scoring among the five boroughs with an average individual score of 87.

12 of 48 councilmembers scored received a failing score.

Marcia Bystryn, NYLCV President, stated: “As we prepare for the one-year progress report on OneNYC in April, the City Council will continue to play a critical role in enacting legislation that will allow New York to stay on track to meet ambitious goals like reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050 and getting to zero waste to landfills by 2030. NYLCV looks forward to working closely with the Council to ensure that New York remains a thought leader on sustainability and commits the necessary resources to stay on a healthy and sustainable path.”

The NYLCV is the only non-partisan, statewide environmental organization in New York that takes a pragmatic approach to fighting for clean water, healthy air, renewable energy and open space.

MENG FIGHTS TO REMOVE ‘ORIENTAL’ FROM FEDERAL LAW: The House of Representatives has already passed Congresswoman Grace Meng’s law to remove terms such as “oriental” because they imply a “derogatory” meaning. Instead people should use the term “Asian Americans” instead.

On the same subject, last week the US Senate voted unanimously to include a provision that removes offensive terms such as “oriental” from federal law. That bill was introduced by US Senator Mazie Hirono (D–HI), from Hawaii.

But Meng (D–Flushing) spoke out last week to have her House bill banning the word “oriental” passed by the Senate.

Meng stated: “It is way past time for the US government to stop using this offensive and antiquated term and including my legislation in this Senate bill brings us one step closer to making that happen.”

Meng added, “Many who use the word ‘oriental’ may not mean it in a derogatory manner; but it is an insulting term that should finally be removed from federal law. I thank Senator Hirono for steering this legislation through the Senate, and hope that the government’s usage of the term it will soon be a thing of the past.”

Hirono stated: “Clearly the use of derogatory terms to refer to different ethnicities and races doesn’t have any place in federal law. I am pleased to partner with Representative Meng in this effort. It’s long past time that this language was updated to reflect the diversity of our country, and I thank my colleagues for unanimously supporting language that is inclusive of all Americans.”

Meng said the legislation removes all references to derogatory terms that refer to racial groups, such as “oriental” in federal law, and replaces them with terms like “Asian Americans.” The House legislation is included in the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act. The Senate measure would be approved with the passage of the bipartisan Energy Policy and Modernization Act.

In 2009, Representative Meng – when she was a member of the New York State Legislature – passed legislation into law that eliminated the use of “oriental” in all official New York State documents.

NOLAN LIKES MAYOR’S BUDGET: In a message to her 37th Assembly District constituents, Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan stated that Mayor de Blasio’s preliminary 2017 budget is “a step in the right direction” and further into the statement the Ridgewood lawmaker “commends” the mayor for “allocating over $200 million in his budget for four new school buildings in District 30.”

Nolan, whose district includes Ridgewood, Sunnyside, Woodside and Long Island City, states that as Chair of the Assembly’s Education Committee, stated, “I have had a leadership role with both the Department of Education (DOE) and the School Construction Authority (SCA) advocating for additional schools to be built in District 30.”

Nolan points out, “Our state has contributed many millions of dollars to the City of New York for building aid and other capital expansion. Our communities in Sunnyside, Woodside, LIC continue to expand and we must develop our infrastructure. Additional schools must be built to keep up with both the influx of new residents and the need to address overcrowding, the expansion of kindergarten and pre-K, and decrease class size.”

The lawmaker says, “I commend Mayor de Blasio for allocating over $200 million in his budget for four new school buildings in District 30. I will work so that schools will be built in the Long Island City/Hunters Point area. Much more is needed as we remain overcrowded and are playing catch-up with school capacity. I continue to stand with our parents and students and advocate for a stand-alone middle school in the Sunnyside, Woodside area, and must be included in the capital plan.”

Nolan points out, “District 24 also needs more capital funding as we continue to be so overcrowded. The successful completion of the Geraldine Ferraro school campus on Metropolitan Avenue and the expansion of Learners and Leaders on Seneca Avenue are examples of our success working together with our Community Education Council (CEC) parent partners.”

She states, “Under my leadership as Chair of the Assembly Education Committee, the Assembly Majority pushed for and secured over $100 million in state funding to eliminate the school trailers (TCUs) in New York City. This specific appropriation to the city will eliminate the trailers and free up additional funding in the capital plan to build more schools and add classroom seats in Western Queens. I will continue to advocate at the state level to ensure our city schools have the necessary resources to remove the remaining trailers, complete new renovations, and allow our city to access funding from the smart schools bond act for new technology in the classroom.”

Nolan closed saying, “Additionally, I have supported efforts to create barrier-free schools and more accessibility for physically challenged students, including advocating for elevator construction at a number of our school buildings and creating athletic spaces in several others. We will work together with our parents… so that every student can learn in a safe environment and receive a sound, quality education which our students need.”

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