2017-06-21 / Political Page

I On Politics

GIANARIS TAPS WEALTHY FOR $2 M, 3-YEAR TRANSIT PLAN: Don’t look for the lights in the State Senate and Assembly to be dimmed tonight (Wednesday), indicating the 2017 session has concluded. In fact, with the session nearing a conclusion, the lawmakers will likely be working late tonight to tie up the many loose ends that always pop up when the end of a session is in sight.

Those pesky loose ends started to show up toward the onset of the closing week some days ago as many interesting bills started to come out of the hopper recently. One such bill, introduced by Senator Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), appeared late last week with the promise of improving subways and mass transit, which are always in need of a boost.

Gianaris called the legislation “Better Trains, Better Cities,” and pointed out it would create an emergency manager appointed by the governor who would crack the whip to assure the bill’s aims would be met.

Gianaris explained the measure would impose a “temporary” three-year state income tax surcharge on millionaires in the 12- county MTA region, with revenues designated to cover upgrades to the transit system. The lawmaker explained the tax would generate about $2 billion, and he stated he felt former MTA Chair Richard Ravitch could be named to achieve the goals sought over a three-year period.

CROWLEY ON ANNIVERSARY OF OBAMA’S CHILDHOOD ARRIVALS PROGRAM: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) issued the following statement on the five-year anniversary of President Obama’s issuance of administrative measures designed to help fix our nation’s broken immigration system. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program helps millions of families stay together and continues to be a legacy of the Obama administration. Crowley stated:

“Fixing our broken immigration system is one of the great moral obligations of our time. The DACA program for ‘DREAMer’ children did much to alleviate the fear that these children, who spent the majority of their lives in America, faced each day. The reality is only comprehensive immigration reform will bring relief to our immigrant families. That is why I will continue to fight for immigrant rights and uphold the American value of welcoming individuals to our country regardless of their background, race, or ethnicity.”

MALONEY COMMENT ON SHOOTING AT CONGRESSIONAL BASEBALL GAME: After a shooter opened fire at a Republican Congressional baseball game practice, wounding five people on June 14, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) released the following statement:

“Today’s shooting was shocking and terrifying. It was an attack on our country’s institutions and our way of life. My heart goes out to Steve Scalise and the other individuals who were injured. I’m also so grateful for our heroic Capitol Police Officers whose selfless actions saved lives today and keep us safe each and every day. The men and women of the Capitol Police force are some of the finest, kindest and most professional law enforcement officers in the country and Members of Congress, our staffs, and Capitol visitors are in their debt.

“I hope one thing we can take away from this tragedy is a recognition that while Republicans and Democrats in Congress have deep differences, we are all here because we love this country and want leave a better future for our children.”

MENG ON SPECIAL MONITOR TO COMBAT ANTI-SEMITISM: U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), a member of the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, following statement her questioning of Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State, regarding the Department’s failure to appoint a Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti- Semitism (SEAS):

“I pressed Secretary Tillerson at this hearing on why the State Department has not yet appointed a Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism. I was struck that Secretary Tillerson said that ‘we’ve made no determination’ that the Special Envoy is a necessary position. I respectfully disagree. The Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat anti-Semitism was created by Congress in 2004 with the sole purpose of combating global Anti-Semitism. With international threats to the Jewish community continuing to persist, this position, and the work it accomplishes, remains critical.

“I urge Secretary Tillerson to listen to Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle who have called for the State Department to appoint a Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism as soon as possible.”

PERALTA’S ORGAN DONOR BILL PASSED: The New York State Senate unanimously passed Senator Jose Peralta’s legislation that will include a space on applications for student loans and aid programs for enrollment in the Donate Life Registry. The bill (S.6196) will increase opportunities for New Yorkers to register as organ donors. New York State currently ranks second to last in the nation per capita when it comes to registered organ donors, this legislation aims to change that.

LiveOnNY, the premier non-for-profit donor organ organization in New York, noted that more than 10,000 New Yorkers throughout the state are waiting for organ transplants. More than 1,600 New York State residents have been on a waiting list for a life-saving organ transplant for more than five years.

“Organ donation saves lives and giving life is the best gift one can give,” said Senator Peralta. “Unfortunately, New York is in a state of emergency when it comes to organ donations. Far too many New Yorkers are dying waiting for organs. My bill will increase the number of New Yorkers who become organ donors, simply by offering the option to check the donate life registry box on student loan or student aid applications.”

Under the proposal, the student loan and student aid applications will include the question: “Would you like to be added to the Donate Life Registry? Check box for ‘yes,’ or check the box ‘skip question.’ Currently, New Yorkers who want to become organ donors can only do so by signing up for the Donate Life Registry at the Department of Motor Vehicles, on voter registration forms, and separate stand-alone forms.

ADDABBO BILL TO RAISE PUBLIC AWARENESS, INCREASE RESEARCH INTO DOWN SYNDROME: Legislation (S.4013), sponsored by NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. to increase public awareness of Down syndrome and fund research projects into the chromosomal disorder, was recently approved unanimously by the full State Senate.

“This bill authorizes the creation of distinctive Down Syndrome Awareness license plates for people in New York who want to spread the word about this condition,” Addabbo explained. “In addition, money raised from the sale of these license plates will be directed to a new Down Syndrome Research Fund.”

Addabbo noted that Down syndrome is the most commonly occurring chromosomal condition. Every year, about 6,000 children are born with Down’s, or about one in every 700 babies. It occurs in people of all races and economic levels.

“Happily, the life expectancy for people with Down syndrome has increased significantly over the years – from 25 in 1983 to 60 years of age today,” Addabbo said. “This is wonderful news for people born with this condition, along with their loving families. Many people with Down syndrome are our friends and neighbors, and are people we admire for their contributions to our communities and society.”

Addabbo pointed out that many individuals born with Down’s have made strides in many different fields of endeavor. For example, Angela Bachiller, a woman with Down Syndrome, is a City Councilmember in Spain. Madeline Stuart, a professional Australian model, made a splash at New York Fashion Week, and is an inspiration to many with and without disabilities. Laz-D is a rapper in Oregon. American disability rights activist Karen Gaffney not only received an honorary doctorate for her efforts in raising awareness of Down syndrome, and is well known for swimming the English Channel, Boston Harbor, Lake Tahoe, and San Francisco Bay. In addition, people with this condition are well represented and respected in the acting field, appearing on screen and stage.

“I appreciated the support of my Senate colleagues who voted with me to approve my legislation, which has great potential to increase awareness of Down Syndrome, add to scientific research about this condition, and highlight the many contributions that have been made, and are being made, by people born with Down’s,” Addabbo said.

In the other house, the bill is sponsored by Assemblyman Mike Miller, and is under review by the Assembly Transportation Committee.

ADDABBO BILL TARGETS FIRES IN COCKLOFTS, OK’D BY SENATE: To aid homeowners who have hazardous cocklofts in their residences that may present significant fire hazards, NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. is continuing to advance his legislation (S.3065) to provide economic incentives for the removal of these dangerous structures. The bill was recently passed by the full State Senate, and is now under review by the Assembly Ways and Means Committee.

Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) initially introduced the legislation in the wake of a raging five-alarm blaze in Middle Village in 2013, which damaged seven homes, injured 11 firefighters, and may have been exacerbated by the existence of cocklofts in the structures. The Senator also noted that similar cockloft-related fires in Woodhaven and Ozone Park have caused him to push the legislation. Cocklofts are often found in older row houses and are generally defined as large concealed air spaces between the top floor ceiling and the underside of the roof deck on homes.

“At that time, I decided to introduce legislation to aid homeowners in making structural modifications to their properties to eliminate these serious fire hazards,” said Addabbo. “Over the years, there has been growing evidence that cocklofts lead to extremely fast-moving and hard-to-control flames that put both residents and firefighters at extreme risk, and we need to address these dangers.”

Under Addabbo’s legislation, residents whose homes contain cocklofts would be able to apply for a 30% tax credit to repair them. Refundable credits of up to $500 would aid eligible homeowners in affording the cost of making the improvements and eliminating the fire hazards.

Addabbo noted that the ferocity of the 2013 Middle Village fire was said at the time to be related to these attic structures. Since then, other serious fires have occurred in buildings with cocklofts, including one in April of this year that destroyed nearly half of the 112 apartments in a high-rise in Elmhurst. In that blaze, two firefighters were seriously injured and the Red Cross was called in to provide assistance to 144 adults and 31 children affected by the fire.

“Clearly, if we can do something to address the serious dangers that cocklofts pose to our residents and emergency personnel, we should do it,” said Addabbo. “This legislation seeks to lend a hand to homeowners who might otherwise be unable to afford the improvements. In turn, we will be able to provide safer neighborhoods for all of us, and very possibly save lives and prevent unspeakable tragedies.”

Addabbo noted that connected row houses are no longer designed and built with cocklofts owing to their dangerous ability to allow flames to move quickly from building to building. “So now it’s time to take aim at the cocklofts that still exist and should be closed off, before another tragedy strikes.” he said.

CROWLEY VISITS CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION DRIVE ON NATIONAL CITIZENSHIP DAY OF ACTION: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) celebrated National Citizenship Day of Action at an immigration and wellness fair at P.S. 69 in Jackson Heights. As President Trump’s administration continues to pursue anti-immigrant policies, members of our communities are facing new barriers as they seek to contribute, work and live peacefully in Queens, the Bronx, and nationwide.

“It’s important for our leaders to stand against anti-immigrant policies and continue America’s proud tradition of welcoming individuals regardless of their ethnicity, background, or race. On National Citizenship Day of Action, I’m proud to join the Elmhurst Community Partnership and American Immigration Lawyers Association to bring resources and information to working families who are enhancing our community,” said Chairman Crowley. “Across the country, we have seen an increased demand for citizenship applications. It was a pleasure to speak with those in my district who are working to fulfill their goals and the legal advocates who help them. I was also happy to discuss with attendees my strong support for comprehensive immigration reform – an issue I’ve been fighting for in Congress for years.”

House Democrats have consistently fought back against divisive policies from the Trump administration. To showcase support of immigrant communities, House Democrats joined together on Saturday, June 17 for a National Citizenship Day of Action. Across the country, Democrats participated in events designed to help connect immigrants with information on available resources, legal advice, and their communities.

The Citizenship and Immigration Drive was held during the 2nd Annual Elmhurst Community Partnership Immigration and Wellness Resource Fair, which offered free legal consultations, resources for children and families, free on-site health screenings and fraud prevention advice, among other services.

CROWLEY VISITS CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION DRIVE ON NATIONAL CITIZENSHIP DAY OF ACTION: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) celebrated National Citizenship Day of Action on June 19, at an Immigration and Wellness Fair at P.S. 69 in Jackson Heights. As President Trump’s administration continues to pursue anti-immigrant policies, members of our communities are facing new barriers as they seek to contribute, work and live peacefully in Queens, the Bronx, and nationwide.

“It’s important for our leaders to stand against anti-immigrant policies and continue America’s proud tradition of welcoming individuals regardless of their ethnicity, background, or race. On National Citizenship Day of Action, I’m proud to join the Elmhurst Community Partnership and the American Immigration Lawyers Association to bring resources and information to working families who are enhancing our community,” said Chairman Crowley. “Across the country, we have seen an increased demand for citizenship applications. It was a pleasure to speak with those in my district who are working to fulfill their goals and the legal advocates who help them. I was also happy to discuss with attendees my strong support for comprehensive immigration reform – an issue I’ve been fighting for in Congress for years.”

House Democrats have consistently fought back against divisive policies from the Trump administration. To showcase support of immigrant communities, House Democrats joined together on Saturday, June 17 for a National Citizenship Day of Action. Across the country, Democrats participated in events designed to help connect immigrants with information on available resources, legal advice, and their communities.

The Citizenship and Immigration Drive was held during the 2nd Annual Elmhurst Community Partnership Immigration and Wellness Resource Fair, which offered free legal consultations, resources for children and families, free on-site health screenings and fraud prevention advice, among other services. 

KATZ ON PRESENCE OF ICE AGENTS OUTSIDE HUMAN TRAFFICKING INTERVENTION COURTROOM: Queens Borough President Melinda Katz released the following statement in response to questions about news reports that Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were present on June 17 at the Queens County Criminal Courts, seeking a young woman in the Human Trafficking Intervention Courtroom:

“Trafficked sex workers are exploited victims, not criminals. The double victimization of these women is extremely troubling and unacceptable. The presence of ICE agents at the courts severely disrupts and obstructs justice. Courthouses should be treated as sensitive locations, similar to schools, hospitals and places of worship, and as called for by Chief Judge DiFiore.”

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