2018-03-07 / Political Page

I On Politics

CROWLEY FORCES VOTE ON GUN SAFETY LEGISLATION IN THE HOUSE: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) issued the following statement after signing two discharge petitions to force a vote on common-sense gun-safety measures:

“America’s schools, places of worship, and public spaces are no longer safe from gun violence. Yet, Speaker Ryan and Republican leaders are too indebted to the NRA to do the right thing and enact common-sense, bipartisan gun safety measures. Americans overwhelmingly support strengthening backgrounds checks and closing the dangerous loopholes that allow gun sales over the internet and at gun shows without proper vetting, and they want their leaders to act.”

SENATE GOP BLOCKS GIANARIS’ BACKGROUND CHECKS ACT, OTHER GUN SAFETY REFORMS: In the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas School shooting in Parkland, Florida, New York State Senate Republicans rejected on February 28 four proposals aimed at improving gun safety, including Senator Michael Gianaris’ Effective Background Checks Act.

“More responsible gun laws will make our communities safer, keep firearms away from dangerous people and ensure preventable tragedies do not happen. I am appalled Senate Republicans voted down the common-sense measures we proposed today, including my Enhanced Background Checks Act,” said Senator Gianaris. “Senate Republicans’ twisted values put the NRA first and schoolchildren last (and) Senate Democrats will not stop fighting for a safer future for New York families.”

Among the proposals brought to the floor last Wednesday were Sen. Gianaris’ Effective Background Checks Act, which would extend the time after which a firearm can be obtained without a background check from the current 3 days to 10. The other proposals would enable courts to remove firearms from people judged to be a danger to themselves or others, ban bump stocks, and establish a firearm violence research institute to effectively study gun crime as a public health issue.

You can view Sen. Gianaris’ comments from the floor of the Senate with this link: http://bit.ly/2F4qaew

GIANARIS: PASS BILL INCREASING PENALTIES FOR SUSPENDED DRIVERS: NYS Senator Michael Gianaris will call on the state legislature to pass his legislation creating felony charges for suspended drivers who injure or kill. Senator Gianaris made a statement at the Kevin Angel Flores Memorial Walk, honoring the life of the teenager killed in January by a driver with numerous suspensions who was operating a truck.

“Dangerous drivers continue to kill because the current punishment does not fit the crime,” said Senator Michael Gianaris. “We need to get serious about improving the law before another life is lost at the hands of drivers we know should not be behind the wheel.”

“Currently, the most severe penalty a district attorney can seek in such instances is a misdemeanor, which rarely results in jail time and leaves perpetrators free to continue driving and putting people at risk. Phillip Monfoletto, the driver who killed Kevin Flores, had nine license suspensions on his record and continued to drive with a suspended license, even mocking the leniency of our laws in a Facebook post,” explained Gianaris.

Senator Gianaris’ legislation would increase the penalty to a class E felony for seriously injuring a person and a class D felony if the accident resulted in a death, with a maximum penalty of seven years in prison. The Senator introduced his bill, S.3299, after a similar incident killed 8-year-old Noshat Nahian as he walked to school on Northern Boulevard in December 2013. The driver, in that case, was also operating with a suspended license. There have since been multiple additional deaths at the hands of improper drivers in western Queens alone.

Earlier in February, Gianaris’ bill passed the Senate Codes Committee and is awaiting a full vote by the Senate. It will need approval from the Assembly before being sent to the Governor for his signature.

The memorial walk honoring the memory of Kevin Flores took place on, March 2, at Kevin’s school, the Launch Expeditionary Learning Charter School in Brooklyn. Memories of Kevin were shared. Gianaris was among the speakers.

REP. CAROLYN MALONEY ANNOUNCES CANDIDACY FOR REELECTION: Congress Member Carolyn Maloney announced on March 3 her candidacy for reelection to New York’s 12th Congressional District, which includes portions of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.

“Americans are ready to stand up to Donald Trump and the right-wing extremists in Congress, whose dangerous policies threaten New Yorkers,” declared Congress Member Maloney as she welcomed supporters and volunteers to the opening of her new campaign office and petition breakfast.

Maloney has been standing up to the Trump administration since day one and is now fighting to flip the House in 2018. At the same time, she is still delivering results for New York City, including protecting the 9/11 healthcare act for first responders that she authored (which is under threat from the Trump administration), securing $10 billion in infrastructure funding, part of which helped build the new 2nd Avenue Subway and the new Kosciuszko Bridge, and taking on credit card companies to save consumers $12 billion a year.

Congress Member Maloney has also been a national leader in the fight for women’s rights, access to affordable healthcare, infrastructure funding and gun safety.

With the Democratic Primary on June 26th, Maloney has been endorsed by every City Council member, Assembly member and state senator who represents New York’s 12th Congressional District, along with three citywide elected leaders—Mayor Bill de Blasio, Public Advocate Letitia James and Comptroller Scott Stringer, all four Democratic borough presidents and the entire New York House Democratic delegation. In addition, Maloney is supported by the National Organization for Women, NARAL, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Rep. Ro Khanna (CA-17), and more.

SUPREME COURT TO DECIDE UNION CASE: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) issued the following statement after the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments in the case of Janus vs. AFSCME Council 31:

“American workers should enjoy the freedom and fundamental right to form a strong union and bargain collectively for better pay, better benefits, and the safest working conditions. In deciding this case, the Supreme Court will have the opportunity to affirm and protect this fundamental right against special interests and their efforts to weaken workers’ rights and the unions that fight for them. I hope the court will stand on the side of the millions of hardworking Americans and their families.”

SCOTUS RULING ‘BRIEF REPRIEVE’ FOR DREAMERS: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) issued the following statement after the Supreme Court refused to expedite the Trump administration’s challenge to DACA:

“Congress must act to protect the DREAMers. Today’s Supreme Court ruling is a brief reprieve for these brave young men and women but is far from being a permanent solution. It is now up to Republican leaders to act—or else they’ll continue to be no better than a cog in President Trump’s deportation machine.”

MALONEY PAYS TRIBUTE TO BLACK HISTORY MONTH: Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) issued the following statement on Black History Month, which concluded last week:

“As Black History Month comes to an end, we reflect on and celebrate the profound cultural, economic, and political achievements made by African Americans. Our nation’s strength derives from its diversity, and this critical truth is exemplified in this year’s theme, ‘African Americans in Time of War.’

“In this theme, we recognize the disparate experiences of African American soldiers during war, and acknowledge heroes like Tuskegee Airman Benjamin O. Davis Jr., the first black general of the US Air Force; and Colonel Adele E. Hodges, the first woman, of any race, to command Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.

“As we celebrate these contributions, it is important to acknowledge the work that lies ahead to reach full equality for all Americans. Racism has no place in our country, or in any part of this world, and we must work together to tear down prejudices and build bridges. It is only through embracing our nation’s diversity that we can truly be great.”

KOO CALLS OVERSIGHT HEARING AS THREATS LOOM FOR LOW-INCOME LIFELINE PROGRAM: For his first meeting as the new Chair of the NYC Council Technology Committee, Council Member Peter Koo hosted an oversight hearing on the federal overhaul of the Lifeline program and its effect on low-income New Yorkers.

Lifeline is a federal program administered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that works to make communications services more affordable for low-income consumers. The program provides a subsidy to subscribers for discounts on monthly telephone or broadband service.

The FCC recently announced changes to Lifeline that would harm the program by:

• Eliminating service for approximately 75 percent of current participants, particularly mobile services;

• Restricting voice service support to only low-income households in rural areas;

• Install a lifetime cap on Lifeline recipients;

• Place an overall budget cap on the Lifeline program.

Lifeline is widely used by low-income communities in New York City where over 1 million are currently enrolled. Last year alone, Koo’s office registered over 300 subscribers to the program.

The Lifeline program was established in 1985 by President Ronald Reagan to provide discounted phone services to qualifying low-income customers. In 2007, President George W. Bush expanded the program to include wireless devices.

Koo stated, “I have personally seen the positive effects of the Lifeline program, particularly in how it is used by low-income immigrant senior citizens. Many of these senior citizens are scraping by on fixed incomes with multiple medical appointments that are only made possible through the benefits of the Lifeline service. Cutting back this program would add significant burdens to thousands of elderly New Yorkers. I encourage anyone who finds the Lifeline program useful to testify at Wednesday’s hearing to make sure your voice is heard.”

The oversight hearing was held on Wednesday, February 28 at 250 Broadway, 14th Floor Committee Room, in Manhattan. The hearing was open to the public.

MALONEY BILL TO COMBAT ONLINE SEX TRAFFICKING PASSES: Following passage of the bipartisan HR 1865, the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) co- Chair and co-founder of the Human Trafficking Caucus, released the following statement:

“The House took a big step today in the fight to combat online sex trafficking by passing this bill and I’m proud to have worked with Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO) to introduce this bill and get justice for trafficking victims. For too long, websites like Backpage.com that actively facilitate sex trafficking advertising have been able to escape accountability for their roles in selling trafficking victims, thanks to ambiguity in our federal laws. FOSTA corrects that by making it clear that internet companies that facilitate sex trafficking are not shielded by federal law, while also giving states better tools to crack down on these horrendous crimes and empowering trafficking survivors and their families to seek justice. I hope this bipartisan legislation will pass in the Senate with broad bipartisan support as it did in the House.”

PERALTA’S BILL TO PROMOTE LOCAL TOURISM: New York State has passed NYS Senator Jose Peralta’s bill that will provide each of the city’s boroughs with additional funding to promote their local tourism. Under the proposal (S.479), 4 percent of the Hotel Occupancy Tax revenue collected within each borough, up to an annual maximum of $300,000, will be reallocated to each particular borough to further tourism development.

In 2017, New York City received a record-breaking 61.8 million visitors, approximately a 2 percent increase from the 60.5 million tourists that visited the city the year before. In fact, 2016 was the first time New York City hit the 60 million visitors mark.

Peralta said, “Simply put, my bill will foster the growth of New York City’s tourism industry, which is a key economic engine for our city. Tourism is a great source of job creation, and if the bill becomes law, each borough will be able to further promote their particular gems and attractions, from Flushing Meadows Corona Park here in Queens to the Bronx Zoo. A visit to New York City is incomplete if visitors skip the boroughs.”

The funding will allow each individual borough to support its own tourism attractions. The tax revenue, which can be used to promote local non-profit venues, will go to each borough’s tourism council or similar non-profit entities designed by local law and approved by the Economic Development Corporation.

Senator Peralta hopes the Assembly follows suit and approves the measure. Assembly Member Luis Sepúlveda (D-Bronx) is the sponsor of the bill in the Assembly (A.3208).

CROWLEY: TRUMP ADMINISTRATION ‘PROTECTS PREDATORY STUDENT DEBT COLLECTORS’: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) issued the following statement on reports that the Trump administration will block states from protecting students from debt collection companies:

“The role of the US Department of Education is to stand up for our country’s students and help them overcome the crushing burden of student loan debt. Instead, the Trump administration is weakening protections for millions of students who have been victims of fraud or predatory behavior. The Trump administration and Secretary DeVos must stop these attacks on our students and give states the ability to protect their residents against fraud and abuse.”

PHEFFER AMATO SECURES SAFE CROSSING FOR LOCAL STUDENTS: In response to Assembly Member Stacey Pheffer Amato’s (D-Far Rockaway) request for an all-way stop sign at Brookhaven Blvd. and Beach 17th Street in Far Rockaway, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has agreed to install a stop sign this week. Yeshiva Darchei Torah (YDT) is comprised of over 2,000 students, of which a majority of the students and their families utilize this intersection to walk to school. For several years, students, the administration of YDT, and local residents have filed requests with the DOT and 311 regarding the all-way stop sign as a critical safety measure for students walking to school.

Pheffer Amato made a request in February 2017, insisting that the DOT install the sign at this intersection in order to allow for optimal pedestrian safety for residents and students traveling to and from school.

“As parents, we want our children to feel secure when walking to school as well as when leaving after school, and this is not possible when you are unable to cross the street due to constant car traffic,” said Pheffer Amato. “I am proud to say that DOT has listened to the concerns of our community and decided to take the necessary corrective actions.”

“There is nothing more important than the safety of our children-and this will go a long way towards enhancing it,” said Rabbi Baruch Rothman, Director of Institutional Advancement at Yeshiva Darchei Torah.

According to DOT, the stop sign should be installed this week.

CROWLEY HAILS QUEENS WOMEN: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) issued the following statement on Women’s History Month:

“Women’s History Month is a time to recognize and honor the extraordinary women that broke barriers and paved the way for progress and equality in our country. Whether marching for the right to vote, raising their voices in support of equal pay, or speaking out against sexual violence and harassment, courageous women across America have always led the fight to create a more just and equal union. “This year, as we honor these incredible achievements, we must also recognize the need to build on their efforts by committing to tearing down the barriers that still work against women’s full and equal participation in our economy and society.”

KATZ PRAISES PEP VOTE AGAINST SCHOOL CLOSURES: Borough President Melinda Katz stated the following in response to the decision by the New York City Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) on the city Department of Education’s (DOE’s) proposed school closures of PS/MS 42 and MS 53 in Far Rockaway, which were voted down by votes of 6-6-1.

“The message is clear: we are not giving up on our kids. Queens thanks the panel members for listening to the communities, for voting with the best interests of the students in mind and heart, and for giving our Renewal Schools a fair chance to succeed. The school communities are clearly vested in their success, as exemplified in both the recent progress in academic performance and the level of engagement by the parents, teachers and students to save their schools. The work is far from over, and I look forward to collaborating with everyone, including the New York City Department of Education and incoming Schools Chancellor to support the school communities and to help ensure their success.”

The Queens representative and Katz’ appointee to the PEP is Deborah Dillingham. The Borough President said she is thankful for her tenacity in following through for our kids.

MENG: ‘ANTI-SEMITIC ATTACKS DISTURBING’: Congress Member Grace Meng (D-NY) issued the following statement after the Anti-Defamation League’s new report on the historic rise in anti-Semitic incidents in New York:

“It is deeply disturbing to see that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in New York rose by over 90 percent in 2017 compared to 2016,” said Meng. “Queens, the area that I represent in Congress, saw the largest increase in incidents, rising from 11 to 39 from 2016 to 2017. As Americans, we must come together and stop these anti-Semitic attacks.”

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