2018-05-09 / Political Page

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CUOMO SUPPORTS GIANARIS’ EFFECTIVE BACKGROUND CHECKS ACT: NYS Senator Michael Gianaris issued the following statement after Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his support for the Effective Background Checks Act, which would extend the time for background checks to be completed before a firearm purchase is authorized to 10 days. “I am proud to carry the Effective Background Checks Act and am appreciative of Governor Cuomo’s support. This common sense proposal would save lives by keeping firearms out of the hands of dangerous individuals. I urge my colleagues to pass this legislation before the end of this session to ensure more preventable tragedies do not occur.”

GIANARIS BILL REMOVES OBSTACLES TO VOTING: NYS Senator Michael Gianaris renewed the push to pass his Voter Empowerment Act, legislation that would establish automatic voter registration and reduce impediments to voting. On May 1 he highlighted his bill as members of the Senate Democratic Conference released a report with findings about low voter turnout across the state. “At a time in our country when voting rights are under assault, New York must live up to its reputation as a progressive leader,” said Senator Gianaris. “Access to the ballot box should be easy and fair. I urge my colleagues to enact these proposals as soon as possible to remove obstacles to voting.” The Voter Empowerment Act would establish automatic voter registration and remove onerous obstacles to voting such as unnecessarily long registration deadlines. The Senate Democratic Conference report, entitled “Why Don’t More New Yorkers Vote?” highlights a recent survey where 28 percent of respondents said they have missed an election because of work or school obligations, 79 percent said they would be more likely to vote in an election if early voting was enacted and 76 percent of respondents said they would be more likely to vote in an election if New York had no-excuse absentee voting.

TO DOJ: JUSTIFY CENSUS CITIZENSHIP QUESTION: Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), co-Chair of the House Census Caucus, and Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, led a letter of all Oversight Committee Democrats requesting that the Department of Justice produce documents to explain why and how the department requested that a citizenship question be added to the 2020 Census.

In the letter to John Gore, Acting Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, the members wrote, “Despite DOJ’s assertions, the justification for the addition of a citizenship question remains unclear. In a briefing on April 11, 2018, Acting Director Jarmin informed members of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that the Census Bureau simply accepted DOJ’s request at face value and conducted no analysis to determine whether the justification was valid.  The DOJ has not deemed it ‘critical’ to include a citizenship question on the decennial census to enforce voter protections since the Voting Rights Act was enacted in 1965, and it is unclear what circumstances have changed.”

CROWLEY OBSERVES INTERNATIONAL WORKERS’ DAY: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx) released the following statement on International Workers’ Day: “This year, International Workers’ Day comes at an important time for workers’ rights and the labor movement. Dedicated teachers are standing together to defend their basic dignity, fast-food workers are advocating for wages their families can live on, and workers are protecting their freedom to form strong unions—reminding us all that the fight to ensure future generations have the opportunities to succeed is far from over. As we celebrate the contributions of those who helped build this country, let’s dedicate ourselves to fighting for better wages, better jobs, and better opportunities for the workers of Queens and the Bronx, and the entire country.” 

TRUMP’S TITLE X CHANGES ‘ENDANGER WOMEN’S HEALTH’: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx) released the following statement after Planned Parenthood, the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, and the American Civil Liberties Union filed lawsuits in response to the Trump administration’s changes to the Title X family planning program:

“President Trump’s drastic changes to the Title X program undermines the health and rights of millions of women across the country. I commend Planned Parenthood, the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, and the ACLU as they challenge the White House’s antiquated policies.

“The Title X family planning program provides a broad range of preventive health services, including cancer screenings and reproductive care, to millions of American families. The Trump administration’s changes to Title X puts the health of millions of women in danger by limiting access to the health services women and families need. Democrats and women are standing together against these changes with a strong, unified voice, and we will prevail.”

VELÁZQUEZ BILL PROVIDES TPS RECIPIENTS PATH TO NATURALIZATION: Congress Member Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) issued the following statement regarding news that the Department of Homeland Security will terminate Temporary Protected Status for Honduras: “The decision by the Trump Administration to end TPS for 57,000 Hondurans is further evidence of their intent to gut a program that helps some of our most vulnerable immigrant communities.

“Since TPS was first designated for Hondurans fleeing natural disaster, economic turmoil and violence, it has been renewed by Democratic and Republican administrations alike. Today’s decision is not an isolated one. As a result of the Trump Administration’s series of decisions to terminate TPS, 310,540 recipients are losing their status. The terminations account for 98 percent of the total number of immigrants participating in the program, and who now face potential deportation.

“Today’s decision is yet another coldhearted attempt by Donald Trump to attack immigrants, simply to appease an extreme, far-right political base.

“We must thwart these efforts, which are an affront to our national values. To that end, I am working urgently with my colleagues and Congressional Leadership to push my bill, the American Promise Act, which would provide a path to naturalization for TPS recipients.”

Velázquez is the author of the American Promise Act, legislation to provide TPS recipients with a path to naturalization. The bill has been officially endorsed by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and has 100 cosponsors.

CROWLEY: NO BENEFIT TO END PROTECTED STATUS AND DEPORT HONDURANS: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx) issued the following statement on the Trump administration’s decision to end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Honduran nationals: “There is absolutely no benefit to the United States in deporting nearly 60,000 hardworking Hondurans who contribute so much to our economy, our communities, and our country.

“This decision is based off of misguided and hateful policies that President Trump insists on advancing to appease the anti-immigrant voices in his party. The Hondurans protected under this status have spent decades building a life here and pose no threat to the United States. Ending TPS would undermine our diplomatic and national security interests in bringing stability and prosperity to Honduras and the region.

“I urge Republicans to join Democrats in calling on the administration to reverse this decision before these individuals are deported to a country that is still plagued by extreme violence and is unable to care for their basic rights and needs.”

‘TRUMP’S CHAOTIC GOVERNING SHRINKING OUR MARKETS ABROAD’: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx) issued the following statement on the April jobs report: “The Trump administration’s govern-by-chaos mentality is continuing to put unnecessary burdens on working families. His policies are creating stagnant wages and shrinking markets for American agricultural goods overseas, all of which undermines the financial stability of the middle class.

“Democrats have a different vision for the country. We want to invest in education, job-training programs, and infrastructure projects that will lift up those working men and women that contribute most to our economy. But congressional Republicans and President Trump fail to stand up for working men and women each day. It is time for that to change.”

ADDABBO’S BILL GRANTING VETS’ ORGS GRACE PERIOD APPROVED: NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. was recently joined by his Senate colleagues in approving legislation (S.3072) he sponsors to help veterans’ organizations avoid hefty, unaffordable fines for minor building and other code violations. Under the bill, these groups would be provided with 120 days to fix problems before fines are assessed.

“Veterans’ posts in our communities that serve the needs of former servicemen and women often have bars, kitchens and other facilities in their buildings which may fall under the jurisdiction of various municipal codes and agencies,” said Addabbo. “Sometimes, code violations are identified that the veterans’ organizations don’t know about, and certainly never intended, and they are slapped with heavy fines that could jeopardize the continued operation of the posts.”

The legislation was crafted by Addabbo after a veterans’ organization in his district was assessed almost $5,000 in fines because it housed an ice machine and was therefore classified as a food establishment.

“This warning period of 120 days would not apply to serious violations that cause an immediate threat to safety or health, or that violate the alcoholic beverage control law,” said Addabbo, who is the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs. He added, “My legislation isn’t looking to give any group a free ride—just to set up a reasonable period of time to allow veterans to rectify violations and continue serving their fellow servicemen and servicewomen.”

Now that the bill has passed the State Senate, it is under review by the Assembly Committee on Veterans Affairs.

ADDABBO BILL FOR INCOME TAX CHECK-OFF FUND FOR VETERANS APPROVED: Calling it one step closer to a “concrete way to give back to those who have given of themselves in service to our nation,” NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. announced the recent committee approval of his legislation (S.3675) which would enable New Yorkers to check off a box on their personal income tax returns to assist veterans’ service organizations.

Under the bill, New York residents would be able to choose a new income tax “check off” box on their returns to voluntarily support groups that provide services to veterans. The contributions would be held in a fund maintained by the State Comptroller and the State Division of Taxation and Finance, and monies would be provided to veterans’ service organizations to enable them to better assist former military members in accessing necessary benefits and programs. The contributions would be gifts and not reduce the amount of tax owed by check-off program participants.

 “Veterans are often in need of a variety of services when they return home, but do not always know where to turn to find out about an array of programs that exist to help them,” said Addabbo, who serves as the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs. “Veterans’ service organizations serve as a key liaison between veterans and appropriate government agencies, and their efforts are vital to ensuring that our returning servicemen and women gain access to the health, employment, education and other services available to them.”

The bill’s next step towards full Senate passage is under consideration by the Senate Finance Committee. In the Assembly, the legislation is under review by the Ways and Means Committee.

ADDABBO’S MOBILE OFFICE HOURS COMING TO ROCKAWAY BEACH: As part of his ongoing effort to reach out to constituents across the district, NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. invites everyone to participate in his upcoming mobile office hours in Rockaway Beach.

Every year, Addabbo visits libraries in his district to personally assist the residents in his district who may not be able to make it to one of his three offices during normal business hours. On Thursday, May 10, Addabbo will be at the Queens Library’s Peninsula branch, located at 92-25 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, in Rockaway Beach, from 5:30 to 7 pm.

Residents will be able to meet with Addabbo and speak with him about any issue they may be facing, or a community issue they wish to bring to light.

 “For as long as I have been an elected official, I have made it my obligation to make sure I interact with the residents and civic leaders of the communities I represent,” Addabbo said. “I have always urged my constituents to contact me if I can help them in any way, but it is not always easy for some people to do that during normal business hours. My extended office hours are a great way to make sure I am not only reaching as many residents as possible, but also making it more convenient by coming to them. I look forward to another successful round of mobile office hours over the next few months and, as always, encourage those who need assistance to take advantage of these library visits.”

Additional mobile office hours are being scheduled for future dates and locations throughout the district. For more information, contact Addabbo’s Howard Beach Office at 718-738-1111.

PHEFFER AMATO TO HOST NYLAG VAN FOR FREE LEGAL VISITS: On July 13, Assembly Member Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Far Rockaway) will host the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) Mobile Legal Help Center at the Wavecrest Shopping Center at 2-43 Beach 20th Street in Far Rockaway, from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. The van, which is cosponsored by the Access to Justice Program of the NYS Court System, allows local residents to access civil legal services for free. The van contains current technology and private meeting space, which allow it to function as a full-fledged legal office.

Staff onboard the van will provide free legal assistance on issues related to housing (tenants only), public benefits, disability benefits, healthcare benefits, identity theft, debt management, consumer credit, immigration, domestic violence, divorce, custody, employment, advance planning, and Superstorm Sandy.  Everyone is eligible to receive free legal services, regardless of immigration status.

“Our Constitution guarantees us all equal access to justice, but economic and social barriers can make that guarantee hollow for so many,” said Pheffer Amato.  “And in our very bureaucratic city, sometimes promises made by the government go unfulfilled for years—just look at the aftermath of Sandy. So opportunities like this one, to level the playing field and make consultation with a lawyer accessible to all, are absolutely crucial. I am thrilled to be partnering with NYLAG and Access to Justice to host the van. I encourage everyone who needs legal help to go online and reserve a spot for next Friday as soon as possible!

Residents must make an online appointment at www.mobilelegalhelpcenter.acuityscheduling.com/.  For more information, residents can also call Assembly Member Pheffer Amato’s office at 718-945-9550.

WINNERS OF KOSLOWITZ’ PARTICIPATORY BUDGETING VOTE: For the past four years, Participatory Budget Voting Week has taken place in the district of Council Member Karen Koslowitz. Participatory Budgeting (PB) is a process where the residents of a City Council district decide, by direct election, how $1 million in capital projects will be spent. For this year’s PB Voting Week, there was a record 3,300 votes cast.

“PB is all about having local communities decide which projects they want to prioritize, as we work toward a more transparent and inclusive city government,” explained Council Member Koslowitz, adding “I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the volunteers of the 29th district who spent long hours in shaping and creating a PB ballot. Without their noble and selfless contributions, this great democratic process could not have taken place.”

The winners of Koslowitz’ 2018 Voting Week are:

1. Bathroom Renovations ($500,000): full renovations at PS 220, 101, 54, 139, and 206.

2. Water Fountains with Water Bottle Fill Stations ($120,000): Replacing aging water fountains with new ones that are equipped with water bottle fill stations at PS 144, PS 196, and Forest Hills High School.

3. Bus Countdown Clocks ($350,000): Funding the placement of 10 electronic bus countdown clocks. Locations to be determined by the Department of Transportation. Priority for the Q60, Q64 and Q23 lines.

“Over the next months, I look forward to seeing how all of these projects develop and look forward to a fruitful future,” said Koslowitz. “Thank you all so much for voting.”

CROWLEY: FIRE GOP, NOT HOUSE CHAPLAIN: Congress Member Joe Crowley (D-NY), Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, slammed House Speaker Paul Ryan who asked for the resignation of House Chaplain Father Patrick Conroy, which he later retracted, perhaps in response to strong criticism.

Rep. Crowley said, “When EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, HUD Secretary Ben Carson, and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke abused taxpayer money, Speaker Paul Ryan sat idly by. When Chairman Devin Nunes politicized the work of the House Intelligence Committee, Speaker Ryan rejected calls for him to be replaced. But this past week, Speaker Ryan showed he is capable and willing to fire someone…just not anyone involved in a scandal, ethical lapses, or inappropriate behavior. 

“Instead, he fired the Chaplain of the House of Representatives, Father Patrick Conroy. And he did so because Father Conroy conducted a prayer that asked that all Americans be treated equally and equitably under the law.

“It was a spineless act—and one that underscores how little interest Speaker Ryan or the Republican Party have in standing up for what’s right.

“Time and time again, Paul Ryan has refused to stand up to corruption. He has refused to stand up to the misuse of government authority. He has refused to stand up to the Tea Party and the Freedom Caucus. And he has refused to stand up to President Trump.

“Paul Ryan is not alone. The entire Republican party is enabling the Trump administration's corruption and lack of accountability and transparency.

“But, on Tuesday, November 6, we can stand up to them. The American people will be the ones in charge, and I hope they choose to fire the House Republican majority. Americans need leaders in Congress who will fight for health care, jobs, middle-class families, education, and immigration reform.” Crowley provided a link for the people to take a pledge to vote Democratic this November—“and put an end to Republican corruption,” at www.services.myngp.com/ngponlineservices/petition.aspx?X=f5VYhRxslJ8=

CROWLEY CELEBRATES JEWISH AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx) released the following statement on Jewish American Heritage Month: “During the month of May, we recognize and celebrate the vibrant history and traditions of Jewish Americans and how they have greatly contributed to our nation. From the economy to the arts, from the military to education, Jewish Americans contribute to every corner of American society. As we recognize Jewish American Heritage Month, we must also address the anti-Semitism found both here in the US and around the world. This hatred stands in stark relief to the values Americans hold. This month should serve as a reminder to us all to commit to peace and acceptance and to stand for equality and justice for all.”

MALONEY COMMEMORATES ASIAN/PACIFIC AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH: Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) released the following statement commemorating Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month: “As we observe Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, we acknowledge and celebrate the rich and diverse cultures and histories of our Asian-American communities.

“When these communities first immigrated to the United States, they brought with them the ingenuity, passion and drive that not only exemplify and reinforce the American spirit, but enhance it too.  These amazing communities have made invaluable contributions to our nation throughout history, but they did not come easy. Our AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) communities have overcome bigotry, discrimination, and unjust policies in order to thrive and to help our country thrive in turn.

“We are a country of immigrants and I am proud to honor and reaffirm the importance of these communities and the value of our shared ideals. Our nation is made stronger by our diversity.”

BILL CREATES VETERANS’ REMEMBRANCE LICENSE PLATES: Under legislation (S.2504) recently approved by the State Senate and co-sponsored by NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr., a new “Veterans Remembrance” license plate would be created to fund the maintenance and operation of state veteran cemeteries in New York State.

 “Right now, we don’t have any state-owned and operated veterans’ cemeteries, although New York is home to a number of final resting places for former servicemen and women administered by the federal Veterans Administration (VA),” said Addabbo, the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs. “I think it would send a very positive and caring message to our veterans and their families if New York State is able to one day honor their memories with cemeteries that specifically acknowledge their sacrifices and contributions to our state and nation.”

Under the bill, “NYS Veterans Remembrance,” distinctive license plates would be made available for veterans and their spouses through the State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). A $25 annual service charge on the new plates would be collected by the state. Establishing a state veterans’ cemetery would also make New York eligible to receive federal VA funding for maintenance and operations.

Addabbo said, “Several of the existing veterans’ cemeteries in New York operated by the VA are closed to new interments, so creating state veteran’s cemeteries would provide new options” for veterans.

Having passed the State Senate, the legislation is now under review by the Assembly Transportation Committee.

SUNNYSIDE YARDS STEERING COMMITTEE NEEDS COMMUNITY INPUT: Assembly Member Catherine Nolan released a statement on the Sunnyside Yards Steering Committee: “I am incredibly disappointed that Deputy Mayor Glen did not reach out to get my input as the elected representative of this district for over 30 years.  I have worked closely with the Mayor on many issues and it is shocking to see community voices denied in this process at the very beginning.  I commend the many talented leaders on this group, but it must be more diverse and reflective of our western Queens community.

“I must insist that locally elected officials be able to recommend community leaders to this panel, that it be expanded to include more voices and that more local residents and businesses, not just non-profit groups, be included.

“I will be introducing legislation to give the Governor and the legislature more input into this process.”



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