2016-12-07 / Political Page

Crowley Elected Chairman Of House Democratic Caucus

Congress Member Joe Crowley (D–Queens, The Bronx) was unanimously elected by his colleagues to serve as the Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus for the 115th Congress, the fourth-ranking position in House Democratic leadership. After the vote, Chairman-elect Crowley released the following statement:
“I am humbled by the support of my colleagues, and I look forward to serving them as the Chairman of the Democratic Caucus. I am eager to get to work alongside Leader Pelosi, Whip Hoyer, Assistant Leader Clyburn, and Vice Chair Sánchez as we work to advance an agenda that lifts up the American people and moves our country in the right direction. We are at a critical juncture, facing unprecedented challenges and attacks on our core principles. We must focus our energies on charting a path for our caucus and the American people. As Chair, I look forward to creating a platform for all of our members to share ideas, engage one another, and work collectively to establish a way forward.
“I also want to thank, on behalf of our members, Congressman Xavier Becerra for an outstanding job leading our Caucus over the last four years. His dedication to advancing our Caucus and ensuring our members have the opportunities they need to serve their constituents has left me with big shoes to fill.”
Crowley was nominated for Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus by Reps. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.), Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.), Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) and Representative-elect Tom Suozzi (D-NY).
Crowley was elected to serve his 10th term in Congress, representing the Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, contiguous areas in Queens, and also a section of The Bronx.
MILLER’S BILL TO GIVE GIFTS TO STATE VETS’ HOMES PASSES: Assemblyman Miller worked hard to pass bill 9315-A, which establishes gifts for New York State Veterans Homes. The law establishes new sections of the state tax law to allow New York State income tax filers to contribute to the Veterans’ Home Assistance Fund. Such contribution shall be in any whole dollar amount and will not reduce the amount of state tax owed by such taxpayer. The Commissioner of Taxation and Finance shall include space on individual and corporate income tax returns to enable a taxpayer to make such a contribution.
In conjunction, this law establishes the Veterans’ Home Assistance Fund, which consists of all revenues received by the Department of Taxation. Money from the fund shall be expended only for the care and maintenance of the five veterans’ homes operated by agencies of the state, and shall be distributed equally among the five homes.
“This was a bill about charity,” Miller said. “Veterans at these homes have given so much to our country. Establishing the Veterans’ Home Assistance Fund was a great start but getting the general public involved was the real challenge. I pushed for tax filers to contribute so people of good conscience would help our veterans. I would like to thank Senator Terrence Murphy who sponsored this bill and helped it pass in the Senate. I believe the next step is raising awareness regarding this contribution on tax filings.”
Mike Miller is a tireless advocate for veterans and those who are at these homes are dear to his heart. “Valentines for Veterans is a drive that I run every year for veterans at the St. Albans Veterans’ Home. We will again be collecting toiletries for these men and women,” the Woodside lawmaker stated.
The Assemblyman will start collecting toiletries starting this December and will deliver these items to the veterans at the St. Albans Veterans’ Home on Valentine’s Day.
MOYA CRITICIZES GOVERNOR FOR VETOING FARM-TO-FOOD BILL: Assembly Member Francisco P. Moya criticized Governor Andrew Cuomo’s veto of the Farm-to-Food bill (A10584, S7833), legislation that would have removed some of the barriers farmers face when donating food. New York farmers are already some of the most generous donors of unmarketable or remaining food stock, having donated 12 million pounds in 2015, but the costs of labor and transportation restrict them doing even more to help New York food banks fill their shelves.
Moya’s bill would have offset some of these associated costs, allowing farmers to donate more food and not let it go to waste. A tax credit of twenty-five percent of the wholesale cost of the donations, up to five thousand dollars per year for each farmer, would have been able to be recouped under this legislation. Not only was the bill passed unanimously, it received wide-ranging supported from a large coalition of 144 members, the Corona Democrat noted.
“Just in time for the holidays, the season when we should be thinking of giving and the well-being of others, Governor Cuomo has vetoed a bill that would help feed those in need. The Farm-to-Food bill was an opportunity to help our farmers fill our pantries and food banks so no family that has fallen on hard time is forced to make hard choices when putting food on the table. Feeding the hungry shouldn’t just be something we do a couple times a year for the holidays, it should be a continued effort. The Farm-to-Food bill would have provided the means to do it every day, and I’m disappointed in Governor Cuomo for vetoing this legislation. I plan on reintroducing the Farm-to-Food bill in the next legislative session, so that hopefully next year we can finally do right by New York’s hungry,” said Moya.
VAN BRAMER BILL OPENS CITY HALL TO PUBLIC ON WEEKENDS: Councilman Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer introduced legislation to open City Hall to the public on weekends. While technically a public building, only visitors with a stated reason are allowed inside, and tourists and visitors are regularly turned away at the gates. Under Intro 1380, the Department of Citywide Administrative Services would be required to open the building to all visitors on Saturdays, Sundays, or both.
“City Hall is owned by the people of the City of New York—they should be allowed inside,” said City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. “Municipalities all over the world have their seat of government open to the public, and New York City should do the same. City Hall is one of the most historically and architecturally significant buildings in the city, and by opening it to visitors, we signal our commitment to transparency and make this landmark accessible to all.
“In addition to hosting the Mayor’s office and City Council chambers, New York City Hall is the oldest city hall in the nation still used for its government functions. Its interior and exterior are both designated New York City landmarks, and it holds over 100 works of important American art, including Trumbull’s 1805 portrait of Alexander Hamilton, which formed the basis for the current $10 bill.
“Visitors currently must pass through metal detectors to enter the property, a security measure that would remain in place under the proposed legislation,” Van Bramer noted.
ADDABBO APPLAUDS PASSAGE OF JAMAICA BAY BILL: Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. praised Governor Andrew Cuomo for signing into law a bill sponsored by Addabbo that would increase protection measures for Jamaica Bay.
Addabbo, a member of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, is the prime sponsor of the bill (S.8043) that will prohibit certain materials from being used to fill Jamaica Bay, in a process known as dredging. The legislation will now ensure that any sediment or other material that was previously contaminated by hazardous waste will not be used to dredge Jamaica Bay, which is located in Addabbo’s 15th Senate District.
“Protected green space and clean natural bodies of water are hard to come by in extremely urbanized areas such as New York City, and it is now more important than ever that we do everything we can to protect the environment we have,” said Addabbo (D–Howard Beach). “Jamaica Bay is not only one of the largest bodies of water in our borough, but it is home to dozens of different animal species in the wildlife refuge. This bill, which Governor Cuomo has now signed into law, will go a long way toward preserving the land these creatures call home and making sure Jamaica Bay stays clean and free from contamination for years to come. I thank the Governor for his continued dedication to making New York State a leader as we continue our journey toward a greener, more environmentally-friendly state.”
The Senator thanked former Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder, who sponsored the bill in the Assembly, for his partnership on this important environmental issue. Addabbo added he is grateful for Dan Mundy’s guidance and input on the legislation to protect the bay.
Goldfeder stated: “Jamaica Bay is a community treasure that is critically important to the families in southern Queens and Rockaway. It has become an attraction for visitors and an economic engine for our neighborhoods. This bill that was just signed into law by the Governor will extend the current protection and prevent toxic dumping for years to come. A special thanks to the Mundy family for helping to draft the legislation and for their constant advocacy, and to Senator Joe Addabbo, my friend and partner in government, who helped make this important legislation a reality.”
“The Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers are extremely pleased to learn that Governor Cuomo has signed the Jamaica Bay Borrow Pit Bill, which will ensure the bay is protected from plans to fill its deeper portions with contaminated fill. Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder and Senator Joe Addabbo championed this effort and pushed hard to ensure its passage. The bill closes a loophole that allowed for dredge material to be placed in the waters of the bay that would not be approved for open ocean placement, due to its contaminated nature. It is fitting that this will be the final legislative effort of Assemblyman Goldfeder, who was a true champion of Jamaica Bay and the efforts to see it protected and restored for future generations. We are extremely pleased to see his replacement, Assemblywoman-elect Stacey Pheffer Amato, immediately jump into this fight, calling in to Albany in the last few weeks and urging the Governor to sign this bill and make it law. Going forward with great supporters like Senator Addabbo and Assemblymember Pheffer Amato we feel extremely confident that Jamaica Bay will continue to see great things happening,” said Dan Mundy, President of the Broad Channel Civic Association.
MALONEY LAUDS PASSAGE OF ‘JUSTICE FOR ALL ACT: Following House passage of the Justice for All Reauthorization Act of 2016, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, author of the Debbie Smith Act, released the following statement lauding the legislation:
“I first authored and passed the Debbie Smith Act to address the thousands of cases left unsolved and too many survivors left without justice because law enforcement lacked the resources to process DNA kits that could help them apprehend rapists; it has since been lauded ‘as the most important anti-rape legislation ever signed into law,’ by the head of the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network. The Justice for All Reauthorization Act includes a provision I worked hard to add to the Violence Against Women Reauthorization in 2013 with Rep. Ted Poe (TX-2) that requires that 75% of Debbie Smith funds made available to the Attorney General for DNA analysis grants be used for rape kit testing and that at least 5% of funds be directed to backlog audits.
“Smart allocation of resources is critical in bringing these perpetrators to justice and in giving their victims a chance for recovery. It is our duty to work for the safety of all Americans and the testing and auditing of the DNA backlog has proven to be an invaluable tool for law enforcement to get criminals off the street.”
Maloney authored the original “Debbie Smith Act” after rape survivor Debbie Smith testified before the House Government Reform Committee in June 2001 about using DNA evidence to solve rape cases. Debbie was raped near her home in 1989, and for six and a half years she lived in fear that her attacker would return to kill her. Debbie was finally able to live without fear when she learned that her rapist had been identified because of DNA evidence and was already in prison. The lawmaker (D–Queens-Manhattan) explained:
The Debbie Smith Act was signed into law in 2004 as part of ‘The Justice for All Act,” comprehensive legislation that ensured that DNA evidence could be used to convict the guilty and free the innocent. Since then, millions of dollars of federal funding have been appropriated under the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program to process the thousands of unprocessed DNA evidence kits – including rape kits – across the country. When signed into law, the Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act of 2008 provided $151 million annually, and extended the program through FY 2014. The program was then extended in 2014.
In 2013, language Congresswoman Maloney authored to require that 75 percent of Debbie Smith Act funds be used to process the backlog of untested rape kits, was included in the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act that was signed into law. The language mirrored the Sexual Assault Forensic Reporting Act (SAFER Act, H.R. 354) Maloney cosponsored with Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX). The law also provides grants to conduct audits of unprocessed kits so that the backlog of hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits sitting in labs across the country can be tracked.
GILLIBRAND AGAINST NOMINATION OF GENERAL MATTIS: US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Personnel, issued the following statement on December 2 on President-elect Donald Trump’s announcement that he will nominate General James Mattis as Defense Secretary:
“While I deeply respect General Mattis’ service, I will oppose a waiver. Civilian control of our military is a fundamental principle of American democracy, and I will not vote for an exception to this rule.”
PASS SCHUMER BILL CRACKING DOWN ON SCALPERS: US Senator Charles E. Schumer has announced Senate passage of the “BOTS Act,” federal legislation that would crackdown on cyber scalpers using “bots” to scoop up thousands of popular Broadway, theater and concert tickets to resell on other websites at outrageous prices.
Earlier this year, Schumer teamed up with award-winning composer, lyricist, performer and “Hamilton” creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, to highlight the need for this legislation. Schumer said that, most recently, cyber scalpers have been using online computer programs, known as “bots,” to purchase “Hamilton” tickets and reselling them anywhere between $500 to upwards of $2,000/ticket, up from approximately $189/ticket. Schumer’s legislation would help fix the broken system of ticket purchasing. Now that the bill has passed the Senate, Schumer is calling on the House of Representatives to act before the end of this year.
“No ifs ands or ‘bots’ about it, now that the ‘BOTS Act’ has passed the Senate, it’s up to the House to sweep the stage of bots so that actual fans can enjoy “Hamilton,” other hit Broadway shows and major concerts,” said Schumer. “By eliminating ‘bots’ and slapping hackers with a hefty fine, we can better ensure those who want to attend shows in the future will not have to pay outrageous, unfair prices. I hope that the House will pass this legislation before the end of the year so that Broadway and concertgoers in New York and across the country have equal access to these tickets.”
“The Broadway League applauds Senator Schumer’s leadership and for making the ‘BOTS Act’ happen in such a timely manner. Theatergoers from around the world are being defrauded by excessive mark-ups on tickets to their favorite shows, and we are pleased this legislation will give law enforcement and the Broadway community the ability to take steps to prevent this situation from affecting our patrons. We are incredibly grateful to Senator Schumer for his continuous support,” said Charlotte St. Martin, President of the Broadway League.
According to The New York Times, between 2012 and 2014, just three scalpers bought more than 140,000 tickets to New York shows using bots. Scalpers using bots have purchased more than 20,000 tickets to Hamilton. According to The Times, scalpers earned more than $15.5 million from the 100 “Hamilton” performances before Lin-Manuel Miranda’s final performance. Schumer said cyber scalpers are making millions of dollars each year using bots to rip off fans, while also keeping millions of dollars in ticket revenue away from artists and performers, and all those work on these live productions.
Schumer’s legislation that would prohibit the unfair and deceptive act of using mechanisms such as bots in order to scoop up tickets before consumers are given a fair chance to buy them passed the Senate, and Schumer is pushing the House of Representatives to pass the Better Online Ticket Sales Act of 2016, or the BOTS Act, in order to increase fairness for consumers in the ticket-purchasing industry.
Schumer explained that many ticket reselling companies are hurt by bots, as frustrated consumers are often directed to their websites to purchase tickets from the online scalpers at overly inflated prices. In fact, in a 2012 post by Ticketmaster, the company stated that bots “hammer our system and website, they substantially increase our technology costs, they anger our customers and they keep us from building a direct relationship with fans.” Schumer said his legislation would help crack down on this practice, which hurts both concertgoers and ticket companies.
CROWLEY BACKS HEVESI’S HOME SUPPORT BILL: Joe Crowley (D–Queens, the Bronx), Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus, released the following statement in support of Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi’s Home Stability Support (HSS) initiative to address New York’s growing homeless crisis:
Crowley stated: “The most effective way to combat homelessness in our city is to prevent New Yorkers from becoming homeless in the first place. At a time when so many of our communities are rent-burdened and struggling to make ends meet, Home Stability Support presents a real opportunity to provide the assistance vulnerable families need to stay in their homes.
“As a member of Congress, I have consistently supported increased funding for federal housing assistance programs like section 8, public housing, and the continued creation and maintenance of affordable housing stock. Now, I join the growing coalition of elected officials and advocates who view Home Stability Support as a sensible proposal that will not only help reverse the trend of homelessness in our city, but also provide significant savings for taxpayers.
“Too many New Yorkers are depending on us to act and I applaud Assemblyman Hevesi for his leadership on finding solutions to this crisis by taking steps to strike at the root of the problem.”
Crowley summed up: HSS would be a new, statewide rent supplement for families and individuals who are eligible for public assistance benefits and who are facing eviction, homelessness, or loss of housing due to domestic violence or hazardous living conditions. HSS will be 100% federally and state-funded, and will replace all existing optional rent supplements.
MALONEY APPLAUDS PASSAGE OF 21ST CENTURY CURES ACT: Following House passage of HR 34, the 21st Century Cures Act, Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), issued the following statement praising the bill.
“The House’s passage of the 21st Century Cures Act demonstrates our nation’s commitment to modernizing and strengthening healthcare and medical research.
“With $4.8 billion in funding for NIH Innovation, chiefly dedicated to sustaining three key Obama Administration biomedical research priorities, we can look forward to advancements in the Precision Medicine Initiative, the BRAIN Initiative and in Vice President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot. We know that medical research saves lives and continued funding for these programs can and will make huge differences in countless lives as doctors and researchers develop lifesaving tools and techniques.
“The House has also finally taken a real step to combat the opioid addiction crisis across our nation. One billion dollars in funding, consistent with the President’s budget request, will be directly granted to states to supplement their abuse prevention and treatment programs, allowing those who need help to finally receive the level of care they need.
“Too many Americans have lost loved ones to diseases that we know, through research, can one day be preventable. As we continue to support medical research and development, we are investing in the lives of countless Americans who will one day be saved by the work and advancements made by these initiatives,” Maloney concluded.
KIM CONSIDERS BILL PROTECTING FOOD DELIVERERS: New York State Assembly Member Ron Kim (D–Flushing) is asking the public to weigh in on whether the state legislature should increase and enhance mandatory felony charges for targeted attacks against food delivery workers. The survey can be found on the New York Assembly website at: nyassembly.gov/mem/Ron-Kim/story/71992
“There’s no doubt to me that there has been an increase in targeted, racially-motivated attacks against food delivery workers over the last few months,” stated Kim. “I also am certain that most of these attacks are against immigrants and Asian Americans. In the past, the NYPD has labeled, these attacks as ‘crimes of opportunity, but a trend against one racial group can be also seen as a hate crime. I’m launching an online survey, which will end December 30, to better understand how the public feels about this trend: Should attackers targeting food delivery workers receive stiffer criminal charges?”
Karlin Chan, Director of Chinese Freemasons, stated “I applaud Assemblyman Ron Kim for taking the initiative to protect these mainly immigrant workers who have long been viewed as prey and easy sources of cash by criminal elements. I have long maintained that these should be classified as hate crimes because they specifically target immigrant workers who take these entry level jobs to provide for their families. Legislation to stiffen penalties against offenders and protect this segment of our workforce is long overdue.”

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