2017-06-14 / Political Page

I On Politics

CROWLEY BLASTS TRUMP, GOP BILL TO DISMANTLE WALL STREET REFORM: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D–NY) issued the following statement after house Republicans voted to pass their CHOICE Act, legislation that would repeal critical consumer protections included in the seminal Dodd-Frank Act and put the U.S. economy at risk in order to give Wall Street an unfair advantage:

“Congressional Republicans and President Trump have once again prioritized Wall Street and the wealthiest few over hardworking Americans and their families. After the financial crisis devastated our economy, Democrats enacted the Dodd- Frank Act, which included tough new laws for the financial services industry, strengthened federal regulations, and prohibited future taxpayer-funded bailouts of Wall Street.

“Today, with one vote, House Republicans have wiped away a decade’s worth of progress and, in their wake, left behind middle-class families.

“There’s no doubt more work is needed to bolster our economy and expand opportunities for hardworking Americans, but Republicans have yet to offer such a vision. Instead, they have embraced a bill that will put America at risk of another recession. The Republican majority needs to stop advancing policies that favor Wall Street and big banks and, instead, join Democrats in working on policies that will lift up all Americans.”

PHEFFER AMATO, ADDABBO ADD 2 YEARS TO BREEZY WORK PERMITS: A two-year extension to Chapter 100 of the Laws of 2013, sponsored by Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Breezy Point), was unanimously passed by the New York State Assembly. Chapter 100 provides exemptions for Breezy Point work permits for resiliency and recovery in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. The companion extension bill had been passed two weeks prior, sponsored by Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. (D-Breezy Point).

“Considering the delays that thousands of our residents have been subjected to under Build It Back, Rapid Repair and other programs at the city level, it was so urgent that we give our residents at least two more years to rebuild with relief from red tape,” said Pheffer Amato. “I appreciate my colleagues in both houses for understanding that my neighbors deserve to live in structurally sound homes and that that they deserve every chance to rebuild. This vote will make a huge difference for Breezy Point families, seniors, laborers and the overall community.”

“Almost five years after Hurricane Sandy made landfall, many Breezy constituents are still attempting to rebuild their lives and their homes in the community they love,” said Addabbo. “While the storm wreaked havoc and devastation throughout my Senate district and elsewhere, this neighborhood was battered beyond imagination. With the passage of this initiative, we are helping the people of Breezy Point to continue to go forward and succeed in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and to spare them the frustration and expense of reinventing the wheel when it comes to dealing with city bureaucracy.”

“This is great news,” said Denise Neibel, Assistant General Manager of the Breezy Point Cooperative. “Thank you to Assemblywoman Pheffer Amato and to Senator Addabbo for your support. Extension of this legislation will continue to enable our homeowners to more expeditiously progress through the rebuilding process and return their families home.”

A. 4068, as the two-year extension was called in the Assembly, was the second bill passed by Assemblywoman Pheffer Amato, who took office this year.

TRUMP SIGNS GILLIBRAND-GRASSLEY BILL HELPING FAMILIES OF FALLEN OFFICERS INTO LAW: Bipartisan legislation aimed at helping families of fallen first responders receive the survivor benefits they’d been promised was signed into law. The Public Safety Officers Benefits Improvement Act, led by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) reduces processing times through increased transparency of application backlogs.

“I’m very pleased the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Improvement Act was signed into law,” said Gillibrand. “When a first responder dies as a result of their work, we all have a responsibility to help take care of their surviving family members. This law will help ensure that the families of fallen first responders finally receive the compensation they deserve and need in a timely and transparent manner.”

“First responders and members of law enforcement often run toward danger to keep our communities safe. Sadly, far too many make the ultimate sacrifice for the public good. As a society, we’ve promised to support the loved ones of these fallen officers. It’s unacceptable that many are left in limbo, for years in some cases, just to hear back on their application for survivor benefits. Our bill, which is now law, shines a light on the Justice Department backlogs so these families can quickly get the answers they deserve and the assistance they’ve been promised,” Senator Grassley said.

Congress established the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits program in 1976 to provide death benefits to survivors of officers who die in the line of duty. Over the years, the law has been amended to provide disability and education benefits, and to expand the pool of officers who are eligible for these benefits. While the Justice Department has a goal of processing survivor claims within one year of the time they are filed, many families must wait long periods of time for their applications to be approved.

According to recent data, at the end of March 2017, the PSOB Office had 756 active claims, which had been pending for an average of 753 days. Between October 2016 and March 2017, the PSOB Office determined 179 claims, but received 192 claims, resulting in a net increase in the number of pending claims.

To address the backlog, the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Improvement Act expands public oversight of the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits program by permanently increasing the level of transparency regarding wait times for benefits applications. Specifically, the bill does the following:

• Requires the Justice Department to post on its website, weekly status updates for all pending claims and biannual aggregate statistics regarding these claims;

• Allows the Justice Department to rely on other federal regulatory standards;

• Requires the Justice Department to demonstrate clear and convincing evidence that an officer was negligent or engaged in misconduct at the time of his or her death or injury before denying a claim on those grounds;

• Requires the Justice Department to utilize all of its investigative authorities before rejecting claims based on lack of information;

• Allows for the Justice Department to give substantial weight to – and sometimes requires it to adopt – findings of fact of state, local, and other federal agencies; and

• Establishes remedies for claimants who age out of eligibility for education benefits because of the department’s own delays in processing their claims.

The bill’s provisions would apply to all claims that are pending at the time of the bill’s enactment, in addition to all claims filed after that date.

SENATE PASSES PERALTA’S BILL INSTRUCTING MTA TO STUDY LEAD PAINT LEVELS: On June 5, the State Senate approved unanimously Senator Jose Peralta’s bill that requires the Metropolitan Transit Authority and the New York City Transit Authority to conduct a study in relation to the amount of lead paint in elevated subway tracks, trestles and stations throughout New York City. The legislation (S. 5754) commissions a study by the MTA in cooperation with the Department of Health, establishing the degree to which the MTA complies with the federal Clean Air Act.

The legislation requires the MTA to submit a written report, offering recommendations to eliminate any possible exposure to lead by falling paint chips from the elevated stations. The MTA will present the findings to the governor of New York, the New York City mayor, the temporary president of the State Senate, and the speaker of the Assembly. The report will include a review of potential renovations to stations to address lead paint abatement, as well as the fiscal impact of these efforts.

“This proposal will help protect everyone from hazardous lead paint chips falling onto the streets. We need to remove this dangerous problem from our aboveground subway lines,” said Peralta (D-Jackson Heights).

Media reports and the District 9 International Union of Painters and Allied Trades pointed out that some samples of paint chips from the elevated 7 train structure contained 224,000 parts per million of lead paint, more than 40 times the legal threshold. Lead abatement procedures are required when levels top 5,000 parts per million.

Senator Peralta also called on the MTA to seek an immediate solution to resolve the danger of lead exposure created by the lead paint chips falling onto the streets and sidewalks from the elevated tracks of the 7 train. The 7 subway line cuts through several neighborhoods the Senator represents, including Corona and Jackson Heights.

CHAIRMAN CROWLEY STATEMENT ON IMMIGRANT HERITAGE MONTH: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D–NY) issued the following statement in recognition of Immigrant Heritage Month:

“I’m proud to celebrate our country’s rich history as a nation of immigrants. Throughout the month, people in Queens, the Bronx, and across the country will come together to honor the diversity of our nation’s past, present, and future. As the son and grandson of immigrants, I know America’s proud tradition of welcoming those who seek a better life, just like my family did, is what truly makes our country great. Here in Congress, I am committed to protecting this tradition and working with my colleagues to finally enact a comprehensive solution to our broken immigration system.”

ADDABBO JOINS COLLEAGUES IN PASSING PACKAGE OF VETERAN’S BILLS: NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. recently joined with his Senate colleagues to approve 10 pieces of legislation designed to aid both veterans and active duty military members by providing new protections against assault, ramping up job opportunities, making it easier for those being deployed to get married, and offering increased tax and annuity benefits for those in need.

“Our veterans and active duty military members deserve our utmost respect for their service, whether they are being deployed to combat as we speak, remaining active in the reserves, or have already returned home from the battlefield to resume their civilian lives,” said Addabbo, the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs. “The most vital needs of our current and former military members may differ from person to person, which makes it very important for us to address a broad spectrum of critical concerns voiced by our servicemen and women,” said Addabbo (D-Howard Beach).

The bills recently approved with Addabbo’s support by the State Senate to aid veterans and military members are as follows:

• S.955 would make it a class C violent felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison, to assault military members or military reserves personnel engaged in the performance of their legal duties.

• S.927 would make it a class D non-violent felony, punishable by a maximum of seven years in prison, to incite violence against active duty military members or reservists.

• S.936 creates a multi-agency Task Force – including the Division of Veterans’ Affairs, Office of General Services, Civil Service, Labor, SUNY, CUNY and the State Education Department – to seek improvements in statewide employment opportunities for veterans.

• S.2424 would require the Veterans’ Affairs Commission, a group that advises the State Division of Veterans’ Affairs, to work towards implementing a statewide program to better address the varied employment, health, economic, and other concerns of service-disabled veterans.

• S.1013 would enable military members being deployed in less than 30 days to get married less than 24 hours after obtaining their marriage licenses.

• S.5158 would require the state’s Affordable Home Ownership Development Program to give preference to applicants who will provide a certain amount of housing for veterans with service-related disabilities.

• S.4464 would waive the one-time $10 service charge for members of veterans’ organizations obtaining personalized license plates, and eliminate motor vehicle registration renewal fees for active duty military members and honorably discharged veterans and reservists who served on active duty.

• S.200 would increase annuity payments paid to blind veterans and their surviving spouses.

• S.959 would allow local governments to make the alternative veterans’ property tax exemption available to all full-time active duty service members.

• S.5411 would allow local governments to provide the alternative veterans’ property tax exemption to reserve members who were activated under “Operation Graphic Hand” in 1970 to address a serious United States Post Office strike.

“I hope these bills will also be considered favorably in the State Assembly before the 2017 legislative session draws to a close later this month,” Addabbo said. “Those who proudly wear the uniform and put their lives on the line for us deserve nothing less.”

ADDABBO BILL TO CREATE ELECTRONIC WASTE RECYCLING AND REUSE TASK FORCE: To address deficiencies and improve the effectiveness of New York State’s 2010 electronic waste recycling and reuse law, NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. is sponsoring legislation (S.6463) to establish a task force within the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to conduct an in-depth examination of the e-waste program’s performance and recommend improvements.

“Seven years ago, New York took an important step to keep outdated computers, televisions and other e-waste out of our landfills and to set up a structure for the safe disposal, recycling and reuse of old electronic devices,” said Addabbo, a member of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee. “This waste is dangerous to our environment, and it is time to reexamine our e-waste law to find out how and where it’s working well, and to find ways to improve it in circumstances where it’s simply not living up to expectations.”

Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) noted that the e-waste recycling and reuse law, which is intended to allow consumers to work with municipalities and manufacturers to keep electronic devices out of the waste stream, has reportedly been subject to a number of pitfalls. There have been instances reported where manufacturers have refused to accept e-waste or have charged high fees for the transaction. In other circumstances, municipal curbside recycling programs either haven’t been put into place or, when implemented, have not been as effective as they could be.

“Here in New York City, our e-waste recycling efforts have fallen short, especially for senior and disabled residents who have trouble transporting their electronic waste to collection sites,” Addabbo said. “Legislation (S.5464/2016) I have co-sponsored with other city colleagues to provide for scheduled curbside pick-up has stalled, and it’s clear that we need to take comprehensive action to make it easier for people to recycle e-waste and protect our environment. Creating a special panel in DEC to specifically look into this issue and come up with viable solutions may help.”

Under Addabbo’s bill, the DEC Commissioner would convene the E-Waste Task Force within the agency to study the amount of electronic waste recycled; rates of compliance with existing recycling and re-use statutes; how municipalities are implementing e-waste programs, and other issues associated with the law. The Task Force would provide a report and recommendations to improve e-waste recycling and reuse efforts to legislative leaders and chairs of the Environmental Conservation Committees in the Assembly and Senate for potential legislative action. The bill is now under review by the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee.

“While we work to examine the pros and cons of existing law, I am continuing to personally make it easier for my constituents to safely dispose of e-waste in our communities,” said Addabbo. “In addition to my twice-a-year community recycling fairs, which accept electronics, I also sponsor recycling events specific to e-waste disposal, with the next tentatively scheduled for September 9.”

The Senator’s next recycling event will be held on Saturday, September 9 in the St. Camillus School Hall Parking Lot, located on Beach 99th Street, between Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Shore Front Parkway, in Rockaway, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Addabbo has been sponsoring e-waste recycling events since 2009 and has collected approximately 144 tons of unwanted electronics to be recycled.

For further information about the recycling event or e-waste legislation, constituents may contact Addabbo’s office at 718-738-1111.

BP KATZ ON WILLETS POINT REDEVELOPMENT RULING BY COURT OF APPEALS: Borough President Melinda Katz stated the following in response to questions about the New York Court Appeals’ ruling today on the redevelopment of Willets Point:

“Willets Point has been a topic of discussion for decades, and it’s now been nearly 10 years since the Urban Renewal Plan to redevelop this 61-acre parcel of untapped land. Queens needs predictability and action in this highly coveted area of Willets Point. The city has immediate, desperate needs for affordable housing units and good jobs. In addition to the urban renewal plan, proposals for hotels, soccer and hockey stadiums to attract even more visitors and generate economic activity and jobs have been abundant. We look forward to working together with the current administration and the community on identifying what’s in the best interest of the borough, and on an aggressive timeline to clean up the area and its nearby waterways.

Willets Point redevelopment must meet the city’s critical needs and ever-growing demand, as was promised long ago.”

VAN BRAMER’S STATEMENT ON THE PASSAGE OF THE FISCAL YEAR 2018 BUDGET: On Tuesday, June 6, the New York City Council passed an $85.2 billion budget that includes record victories for our public libraries and cultural organizations with a historic $132 million in capital funding for New York City’s three public library systems to make needed repairs and facility upgrades that will ensure all New Yorkers can enjoy the invaluable and essential services New York City’s libraries provide.

Furthermore, the budget includes $160 million in capital funding and a nearly $20 million increase in operating support to over 1,000 cultural organizations across the five boroughs.

Additionally, the budget honors our commitment to our seniors, veterans, families and youth:

• $23 million in baselined funding for senior services, including $6.5 million to address the homecare waitlist, $4 million for a new Caregiver Support Program, and $1.2 million for weekend meals.

• A historic expansion of the veterans’ tax exemption, to provide for an average $400 in tax relief for those who have served our country.

• $9 million for the Summer Youth Employment program, to provide a record 70,000 jobs for young New Yorkers.

• $7.2 million to expand the Emergency Food Assistance Program for food pantries and community kitchens to help New Yorkers suffering from hunger.

“As the Chair of the Committee of Cultural Affairs and Libraries, I am proud to say that this year’s budget includes record funding for our most democratic of institutions that serve all New Yorkers: our libraries and organizations big and small that create and support arts and culture,” said Van Bramer. “With $110 million in capital funding for libraries, $160 million in capital funding for arts and cultural organizations and an increase of nearly $20 million in operating support for cultural organizations, our budget demonstrates our dedication to the millions of New Yorkers who find meaning, inspiration, and peace in our public libraries and through the creation and enjoyment of arts and culture. Congratulations to my colleagues in the City Council for building a budget that protects our progress and honors our values.”

KOO ON THE NEW BUDGET: City Council Member Peter Koo stated the following, regarding the City Council vote to pass the $85.2 billion FY18 budget:

“This year’s budget prioritizes investment in our schools, seniors, veterans, youth employment, mental health and more. In Flushing, I am proud to continue a record investment in all of the schools in my district, fully surpassing $20 million since taking office. I am also proud to have worked closely with my colleagues to direct critical investments to our cultural and community institutions, parks and playgrounds, as well as essential funding for our not-for-profit programs that serve our community.”

CHIN, VALLONE PRAISE ‘YEAR OF SENIOR’ BUDGET: The New York City Council just passed the Fiscal Year 2018 budget, which includes a $22.89 million increase in permanent funding for senior services. Councilmembers Margaret S. Chin, Chair of the Council’s Subcommittee on Senior Centers, praised the increase, which will strengthen the social safety net for seniors. “I thank Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Finance Chair Ferreras- Copeland and Mayor de Blasio for truly making this year the Year of the Senior,” said Chin. “With a nearly $23 million increase in permanent funding, senior centers across New York City can begin to hire the requisite staff to fully serve their clients. Low income seniors will be able to take home an additional meal for the weekend. The city will be able to provide caregivers the support they deserve. And most importantly, seniors will no longer have to be on a waitlist for homecare or case management services. This budget is a large step forward to ensuring our older New Yorkers can continue to age with dignity.”

“This $23 million increase in permanent funding is a major win for seniors throughout New York City and truly reflects the needs of this rapidly growing segment of our population. Baselining this funding will allow the City Council to allocate funds towards innovative programs and technologies that will only enhance the quality of the services we are able to provide our seniors. I will always continue to be an advocate for our city’s seniors and I am proud to have fought for these additional funds with Council Member Margaret Chin. 2017 will be remembered as the Year of the Senior!” said Paul Vallone (D-Bayside).

The FY2018 budget provides $10 million to “right-size” senior centers to allow every center to hire appropriate staff and deliver necessary services. This budget also provides $1.2 million to assist the current case management waitlist and $6.49 million to address the waitlist for homecare services. With $4 million in baselined funding, the budget creates the first citywide program to support caregivers. Lastly, the Administration also baselined $1.2 million in funding for sixth congregate meals so low income seniors who need it can take an additional meal home from their neighborhood senior centers for the weekend, Chin and Vallone stated.

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