2017-09-20 / Political Page

I On Politics

EXPANSION OF SENIOR CITIZEN, DISABLED PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTION: Calling it “a long overdue action to help struggling homeowners make ends meet,” NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. announced that a new law passed at both the state and city government levels will enable greater numbers of senior citizen and disabled homeowners New York City to seek relief from high property tax bills.

Addabbo, who supported the legislation (S.4628) in the State Senate, said, “It has been 11 years since income eligibility levels were last raised under the Senior Citizen Homeowners Exemption (SCHE) program and Disabled Homeowners’ Exemption (DHE) program. With this expansion, many more senior citizens and disabled homeowners will be able to seek welcome property tax breaks.”

The annual household income cap for participating in the SCHE and DHE programs has now been raised from $29,000 to $50,000 for a full 50% property tax exemption, and from $37,399 to $58,399 for a partial exemption.  Seniors must be 65 or older to participate. The tax relief programs offer property tax exemptions ranging from 5% to 50% of a home’s assessed value.

“Eligible seniors and disabled homeowners can save hundreds of dollars in property taxes under these programs,” said Addabbo, a member of the Senate Aging Committee. “Benefit programs like this lend a critical helping hand to people living on fixed incomes who want to remain in their communities without fear of losing their homes.”

Interested homeowners who believe they may be eligible for SCHE or DHE may apply by January 16, 2018 at www.nyc.gov/sche or www.nyc.gov/dhe. Those who are already receiving SCHE or DHE do not need to take any action; any increases to their benefits will appear on their 2018 property tax bills, with a retroactive credit to July 1, 2017. Homeowners who were previously denied tax relief because their income was too high will also have benefits applied to their accounts automatically, starting with the 2018 tax bill with a retroactive credit to July 1, 2017.

“I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues in New York state and city government to ensure the best possible quality of life for our disabled and elderly residents,” said Addabbo.  “Providing them with tax relief is one way to help them afford other basic life necessities and lead happier, healthier and more dignified lives.”

CROWLEY, CHABOT: ‘SUSPEND MILITARY TRAINING IN BURMA’: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) and Congressman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) issued the following statement on the violence in Burma:

“We are horrified by the ongoing situation in the Rakhine State, Burma. In particular, with hundreds of thousands fleeing, we’re deeply concerned by numerous reports that Burma’s military is not exercising restraint with respect to the treatment of Rohingya civilians.

“This is quickly becoming a humanitarian crisis that the United States must take a leading role in to resolve. The US should send a firm signal to Burma’s military that this cannot continue, by suspending any current or future military training in Burma.”

ADDABBO TO SPONSOR BACK TO SCHOOL FOOD AND SUPPLY DRIVE: NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. is partnering with Sacred Heart Church in Glendale to hold a school supply and food drive to collect items for those in need. Addabbo and Sacred Heart will be collecting school supplies, as well as nonperishable food items and toiletries for donation to the church’s food bank.

“No student should have to go without adequate school supplies,” Addabbo said. “That is why we are asking you to help make ‘Back to School’ season better for those less fortunate. Anytime is the right time of year to help a fellow New Yorker, but we hope this food and school supply drive will make the start of the new school year special. As always, I am proud to once again collaborate with Sacred Heart for this wonderful cause and look forward to continuing our efforts in the future.”

Requested donations include school supplies such as spiral notebooks, pencils, pens, crayons, loose-leaf paper, construction paper; and all sizes of plastic sandwich and snack-size storage bags. Other items requested include canned goods and dry foods, such as soup, pasta, beef stew, cereal, oatmeal, tea, coffee, powdered creamer, sugar, condiments, juice, and ice tea mix. In addition, donations of toiletries such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, bar soap, feminine products, toilet paper, paper towels, baby wipes, disposable diapers, tissues, and shampoo will be welcomed.

Those who wish to make a donation may drop off items at the Sacred Heart Food Pantry, located at 77-05 84th Street, in Glendale, or at Senator Addabbo’s Middle Village Office, located at 66-85 73rd Place, which is open every Monday-Friday, from 9 am to 5 pm. For more information, interested individuals may contact the Senator’s office at 718-497-1630.

HOUSE PASSES COHEN-MALONEY BILL FOR ADDITIONAL FUNDING TO REDUCE RAPE KIT BACKLOG: The House of Representatives passed on September 12 an amendment offered by Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) and Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN) to include an additional $4 million in the Fiscal Year 2018 House appropriations package for the US Department of Justice’s Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI), which helps local law enforcement agencies working to reduce their backlogs of untested rape kits. The passage continues a trend of increased funding for SAKI. In 2015 Cohen and Maloney successfully offered an amendment to increase funding for SAKI by $4 million If the Sept. 12 House-passed amendment becomes law. Congress will have increased funding from $36 million to $49 million since 2014 – a 36% increase.

“Local law enforcement agencies need federal resources to address rape kit backlogs and seek justice for survivors of sexual assault,” said Maloney. “I worked to pass the Debbie Smith Act, which has been called the most important anti-rape legislation ever signed into law to provide substantial federal funds to help states and localities work through DNA evidence backlogs.

Increasing funding for SAKI will continue this much-needed work. Rape kits that are sitting on shelves need to be tested and predators who walk our streets must be put behind bars. I’m proud to have worked with Rep. Cohen on this amendment.”

“DNA analysis has been revolutionary in helping catch criminals and prevent further crimes from occurring. But when evidence is sitting on a shelf somewhere waiting to be tested, that means assailants are still at-large and could be assaulting more victims,” said Cohen. “The backlog of untested rape kits across this country is shameful, and we need to commit the resources necessary to get them tested. This increased funding will help make that happen. I am grateful that our amendment was included, and I am proud to have Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s support.”

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. Smith 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. Smith 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 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 Maloney authored to require that 75% 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, HR 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.

CROWLEY, HOUSE DEMS LAUNCH ‘JOBS FOR AMERICA’ TASK FORCES: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) announced on September 15 the launch of the “Jobs for America” task forces – a unified effort from House Democrats to craft a real legislative agenda for America that will benefit the hardest-working Americans and middle-class families in Queens, the Bronx, and across the nation.

The task forces will create opportunities for job growth, boost hardworking families, and give every worker the opportunity to achieve the American dream by developing legislation focused on investing in key industries, restoring worker benefits, removing barriers to help workers find stable and well-paying jobs, helping our veteran communities transition to the workforce, and identifying jobs of the future.

“Our economy isn’t working for far too many Americans. Middle-class families and hardworking men and women struggle to attain the opportunities they so greatly deserve, find financial security, and retire with confidence,” said Chairman Crowley. “Americans want to know what Democrats stand for and how we’ll fight for them. This effort will provide a specific roadmap for how families in Queens, the Bronx, and across America can obtain better wages, better jobs, and a better future.”

The task forces will be chaired by a cross-section of members of the House Democratic Caucus. During the coming months, co-chairs of the task force will meet with business and labor leaders, entrepreneurs, and middle-class Americans to develop a legislative package that will benefit all Americans.

For more information on the House Democratic Caucus’ Jobs for America Task Forces, visit: www.dems.gov/jobsforamerica

DROMM STATEMENT ON THE DEATH OF EDIE WINDSOR: In response to news of the death of Edie Windsor, whose landmark case, United States v. Windsor, led the US Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage “The world has lost a human rights icon in Edie Windsor,” said openly-gay NYC Council Member Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights, Elmhurst). “For me and for so many LGBT Americans, Edie Windsor was a hero. She dedicated decades of her life to fighting for equality and justice. Because of her courage, same-sex couples secured the right to marry, something that would be unthinkable just a decade ago. Edie was a dear friend to me and will be sorely missed. May her legacy serve as an example to future generations of activists.”

MALONEY SEEKS SECURITY INFO FROM TRANSUNION AND EXPERIAN: Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), Ranking Member of the House Financial services Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Securities, and Investment requested information Friday from the CEOs of TransUnion and Experian as to how each company is addressing its information security program in light of the Equifax data breach.

According to numerous reports, the hackers in the Equifax case likely exploited security flaws in open-source software – Apache Struts – that was used by Equifax. This software is widely used by large companies, and TransUnion has publicly acknowledged that it also uses Struts.

The Congresswoman asked the CEOs, James M. Peck and Brian Cassin, of TransUnion and Experian, respectively, to answer the following four questions:

1. What steps, if any, has your company taken in response to the Equifax data breach? Has your company undertaken a review of your information security program to identify potential weaknesses in light of the Equifax data breach?

2. Does your company use the Apache Struts software for any of its databases? If so, do these databases contain sensitive or personally identifiable information about consumers?

3. Has your company applied all of the necessary security patches that Apache has released for the Struts software?

4. Are you aware of any evidence that hackers have compromised your company’s information security and stolen sensitive or personally identifiable information about consumers?

In her letter to the CEOs, James M. Peck and Brian Cassin, of TransUnion and Experian, respectively, Maloney wrote, “I am writing with regard to the recent data breach at Equifax, which is one of the largest, most devastating data breaches in history. The Equifax breach has affected roughly 143 million American consumers, and because of the nature of the information that was stolen — largely Social Security numbers and birth dates, which are both critical and unchangeable for consumers — criminals could be using this information to steal consumers’ identity for years to come.

“According to press reports, hackers in the Equifax case exploited a flaw in the open-source server software Struts, created by the Apache Foundation, to gain access to the consumers’ confidential information. The Struts software is widely used by large companies — by one estimate, 65% of Fortune 100 companies use Struts — and TransUnion has publicly acknowledged that it also uses Struts. Despite the fact that Apache released patches for security flaws in the Struts software in March, Equifax reportedly had not applied these patches.”

MENG AMENDMENT TO RESTORE FUNDING TO DEPT. OF LABOR’S WOMEN’S BUREAU PASSES: An amendment sponsored by US Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) to restore more than $1 million to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau was passed by the House of Representatives as part of a broad spending package to fund the federal on September 15 government through the end of fiscal year 2018. Meng’s measure restores the funding after it was initially cut in the underlying spending legislation.

The Women’s Bureau conducts research to help departmental agencies develop policies that advance the interests of working women. It plans and executes research and advises other agencies on the structure and implementation of a wide-range of worker programs.

Meng explained, “As a working woman, and a working mother, I am intimately aware of the barriers women still face in the workplace. Women today make only 80 cents for every dollar a man earns and encounter obstacle after obstacle to attain promotions and raises, (need) protections against pregnancy and sex discrimination, and adequate workplace flexibility, especially for young mothers. The work performed by the Women’s Bureau is critical in researching, analyzing, and proposing policy and program solutions to address these problems that threaten women’s economic security. Its funding should not be cut by one cent, let alone more than a million dollars. I’m pleased my colleagues agreed, and passed my amendment in a truly bipartisan fashion. I’d like to thank every New York State Democrat for voting in favor of my amendment, and I would particularly like to thank my New York State Republican colleagues who voted for its passage, including Reps. Lee Zeldin, Peter King, Dan Donovan, John Faso, Tom Reed, and John Katko.”

Meng’s amendment passed by a vote of 220-198.

ADDABBO TO HOLD MOBILE OFFICE HOURS FOR CONSTITUENTS: In order to bring the services of a New York State government office closer to his constituency, NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. will be holding Mobile Office Hours at the Queens Library Middle Village branch on Thursday, September 21, from 5:30 pm to 7 pm. The library is located at 72-31 Metropolitan Avenue.

“By coming to constituents in their own neighborhoods, I am hoping to make it more convenient for them to come out and express their concerns to me,” said Addabbo. “I look forward to meeting and speaking with local residents in Middle Village, and I thank the Queens Library system for providing us with this opportunity.”

Addabbo is also holding Mobile Office Hours at Wassermann’s Grocery and Ridgewood Library. As part of his continuing efforts to meet and speak with constituents in their own neighborhoods around the 15th Senate District, and to bring government services directly to local residents, Sen. Addabbo will be holding Mobile Office Hours at two locations on Wednesday, September 27 and Thursday, September 28.

On Wednesday, September 27, Addabbo will meet local residents at Wassermann’s Grocery Store from 5:30 pm to 7 pm. The store is located at 72-68 Main Street in Kew Gardens Hills.

Then on Thursday, September 28, he will hold mobile office hours from 5:30 pm to 7 pm at the Ridgewood Library at 20-12 Madison Street.

“Over the years, I have truly enjoyed going throughout the district doing my mobile office hours and conveniently meeting with my constituents in their community,” said Addabbo. “I look forward to meeting and speaking with local residents in Kew Gardens Hills and Ridgewood, and I thank both Wassermann’s Grocery Store and the Queens Library system for providing us with these opportunities.”

For further information, or to learn about other mobile office hours planned around the district, constituents may contact Addabbo’s office at 718-738-1111.

CROWLEY ON LABOR DISPUTE BETWEEN CHARTER COMMUNICATIONS, LOCAL 3: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) issued the following statement in support of Local 3 workers in their ongoing labor dispute with Charter Communications:

“The right to collectively bargain is critical for workers to ensure fair wages, benefits and treatment from their employers. Charter should not be undermining Local 3 members who are trying to do just that. We need Charter to immediately come to the table and negotiate in good faith with these workers who take great pride in their jobs and deserve the benefits they’ve worked so hard to earn. I’m proud to join the labor community in pledging support for Local 3 at this critical juncture of their effort.”

CROWLEY STATEMENT ON HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) issued the following statement in commemoration of Hispanic Heritage Month:

“During Hispanic Heritage Month, we pay tribute to the rich history, culture, and contributions of the Latino community in America. From the arts to the economy, Latinos have enriched our culture and brought creativity and innovation to every facet of American life.

“But as we honor these incredible achievements, we must also acknowledge the many challenges the Latino community still face today. President Trump continues to promote an anti-immigrant agenda, and his decision to reverse the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program sends a chilling message to communities throughout the country.

“During this Hispanic Heritage Month, let’s increase our commitment to the Latino community by passing a bipartisan DREAM Act and rejecting the anti-immigrant and xenophobic rhetoric toward immigrants.”

CROWLEY ON NORTH KOREA’S MISSILE LAUNCH: House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (D-NY) issued the following statement after North Korea’s ballistic missile launch:

“This launch is the latest in a series of actions that further isolates North Korea and jeopardizes peace and stability in the region. The sanctions imposed this week by the UN Security Council were a step in the right direction, but pressure must continue to be applied in tandem with diplomatic efforts. China and Russia must exert more forceful leadership and demand that North Korea cease its threatening and destabilizing behavior toward America and our allies, including Japan and South Korea.”

MALONEY: EXHAUST ALL DIPLOMATIC OPTIONS TO STOP NORTH KOREA: Following news that North Korea launched another missile over Japan, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) called for increased sanctions and the urgent pursuit of all diplomatic options that could help stop North Korea’s reckless threats to the peace and stability of the region.

Maloney recently returned from a Congressional Delegation trip to the Demilitarized Zone on the border between North and South Korea. The CODEL also visited Hawaii, Japan and China.

“This latest missile test is more evidence that North Korea has not yet been persuaded to stop making destabilizing threats, or to end its efforts to develop nuclear tipped ICBMs. The international community must work together to immediately develop a new set of severe sanctions. I was pleased that the UN Security Council imposed further sanctions earlier this week, but they clearly did not go far enough.

“I believe it is time to cut off all oil exports to North Korea. It is also critical for China and Russia to strictly enforce all international sanctions. If they do not, then we should expand our targeted efforts to sanction companies and individuals that violate UN or US restrictions. As we do this work, we must also work with our allies in the region to get North Korea to the negotiating table and do the hard, diplomatic work to reduce tensions and move towards a nuclear free Korean peninsula.”

CROWLEY RESPONDS TO REPUBLICANS’ LATEST HEALTH CARE BILL: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) issued the following statement on the Graham-Cassidy health care bill – the Senate’s latest iteration of “Trumpcare”: “This bill is the latest in a series of attempts by congressional Republicans to make health care demonstrably worse for millions of Americans. It is a disgrace and shows just how desperate Republicans are to repeal the Affordable Care Act – regardless of the cost to working men and women, seniors, veterans, and middle-class families. This latest version of Trumpcare slashes healthcare funding, fundamentally worsens the Medicaid program, and allows states to waive critical protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions. None of which will improve Americans’ health.

“Republicans are hoping Americans won’t notice their last-ditch attempt to repeal Obamacare, but congressional Democrats aren’t going to stand by as Republicans attempt to sabotage America’s health care system. Instead of continuing this futile exercise, Republicans should join Democrats, return to regular order, and pursue bipartisan solutions to improve the Affordable Care Act. I am confident the Congressional Budget Office will find this latest version of Trumpcare is no better than the last, and I urge the bipartisan coalition of senators who opposed it the last time to stay firm in their opposition.” 

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