2019-03-13 / Political Page

I On Politics

SENATE PASSES GUN SAFETY BILLS: NYS Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris and the Senate Democratic majority passed legislation (S.2450-A & S.35) that will create stronger regulations for the safe storage of firearms and the appearances of imitation weapons to prevent unintentional gun violence.

Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris said, “The ‘New’ New York Senate is committed to preventing senseless gun deaths. Requiring safe storage of firearms and ensuring imitation guns are easily distinguished from the real thing will keep us safer.”

The gun safety legislation advanced by the Senate majority includes Senate Bill S.2450A, sponsored by Senator Liz Krueger, and will establish penalties for anyone who has a child under 16 in their home and does not properly store any firearm or render it incapable of being fired by using an appropriate gun-locking device.

Also passed was Senate bill S.35, sponsored by Senator Brad Hoylman, which will require that imitation weapons must be entirely brightly colored or be constructed entirely of transparent or translucent materials, and be manufactured with other identifying features.

The common-sense legislation passed by the Senate majority builds on the gun safety measures passed on January 29th.

SUPPORTING CEDAW RATIFICATION ON INT’L. WOMEN’S DAY: Congress Members Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) and Jan Schakowsky (IL-9), on March 8th, International Women’s Day, reintroduced a resolution calling for the ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). This landmark international agreement, adopted by the United Nations in 1979, mandates that governments take positive steps toward the advancement of women and eradicate laws, customs, and practices that discriminate against women.

“On International Women’s Day, the world comes together to recognize that women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights,” said Rep. Maloney. “As we continue to see women’s rights abused around the world, and political attacks on women’s rights here at home, it is even more important than ever that Congress takes a stand by ratifying the most comprehensive international agreement on women’s rights, CEDAW. We need to ratify CEDAW and affirm our standing as a global leader for the rights of women and girls.”

“Thirty years ago, the United Nations adopted the CEDAW, a treaty to establish gender equality and to eliminate female oppression. Though providing the world’s women with equal rights and equal opportunities will take more than an agreement on paper, I have long been disappointed that the United States is one of only six UN member states who have refused to ratify the CEDAW,” said Rep. Schakowsky. “When girls and women live in security – free from violence – they can go to school, start businesses, help their families prosper, and even serve their nation. This International Women’s Day, I call on my colleagues in the Senate to finally ratify the CEDAW as an enormous step in the right direction. I am so proud to join my good friend Representative Maloney in reintroducing this important resolution.”

International Women’s Day is commemorated each year on March 8th around the world to honor women and recognize their economic, political and social achievements. 189 countries have ratified CEDAW, affirming their commitment to the enforcement of laws protecting women and against violence of any kind occurring domestically, at work, or in any sphere of a woman’s life. The US is the only western country in the world that has not ratified CEDAW, joining the ranks of Somalia and Iran.

CEDAW is an important tool in combating discrimination and human rights abuses against women around the world. As a result, its ratification would provide a catalyst for the US to examine areas of persistent discrimination against women, Maloney added.

MALONEY VOTES FOR RESOLUTION AGAINST ANTI-SEMITISM: Congress Member Carolyn Maloney released the following statement after voting for the House resolution against anti-Semitism, bigotry and hatred: “Today, Congress made clear that there is no place for anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, or any other hate-based rhetoric in America. The language of anti-Semitism is often subtle, but it is very painful to Jewish Americans; they hear the implied threat and the ‘othering’ of them as Americans. We all must be mindful of the impact of our words. All hatred on the basis of religion is abhorrent, including the suggestion that all Muslims are terrorists or that Catholics owe allegiance to the Pope, accusations that have tarnished our political discourse in recent memory.

“We are currently witnessing an alarming spike in anti-Semitic rhetoric and hate crimes. Just a few months ago, we witnessed the deadliest attack on American Jews in our nation’s long history, with 11 worshippers murdered while praying at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. In my community in New York City, we’ve had a 72% increase in hate crimes against Jews with Jewish men being attacked and beaten on the street; schools and walls defaced with Nazi symbolism; and synagogues vandalized. Elsewhere in the US, attacks on Jews are growing.

“Last year, we heard the shameful chants of white supremacists in Charlottesville saying, ‘Jews will not replace us.’ Recently, we’ve heard the suggestion that Israel hypnotizes the world into overlooking its actions. We’ve heard that pro-Israel groups purchase US support for Israel, as if the only reason American politicians would support Israel is campaign contributions and not because of our shared values and interests. We’ve heard the ancient anti-Semitic trope of dual loyalties – one that goes back thousands of years.

“Words and ideas lead to action. Anti-Semitic language and hate-filled rhetoric have no place in this country and must be condemned in the strongest possible terms, which is why I was proud to join my colleagues in voting for today’s resolution.”

RULES COMMITTEE INCLUDES 16- YEAR-OLD VOTING AMENDMENT: Congress Member Grace Meng (D-NY) testified before the US House Committee on Rules on March 5th to argue the merits of attaching her amendments to the For The People Act (HR.1). This included an amendment to lower the voting age to 16—based on Meng’s Constitutional Amendment (H.J.Res.23)—that was successfully attached to HR.1.

The For The People Act is the Democrats’ signature campaign and voter reform bill that would ensure access to the ballot box, end the reign of dark money in our political system, and demand accountability from public officials, Meng explained.

“Last night, America took a bold step forward toward lowering the voting age to 16 that gives our young people the power to vote in elections,” said Rep. Meng. “I’m thrilled that the Rules Committee voted favorably to include my amendment with Rep. Pressley. Congress has the power to shape our nation, including the lives of our young people. 16- and 17-year-olds can get jobs and pay taxes. If they can do these things, they can also make decisions on who should represent them. I urge my colleagues to support our amendment.”

‘RAISE MINIMUM SALES AGE FOR TOBACCO FROM 18 TO 21’: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo released the following statement on raising the minimum sales age for tobacco from 18 to 21: “The lifelong health effects and human misery caused by tobacco use cannot be understated and New York needs to do everything in its power to keep tobacco products out of the hands of our young people. That’s why I made raising the age of tobacco sales to 21 one of the first proposals of my Justice Agenda and I applaud the Assembly and particularly Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal for taking action on this very important issue today. I urge the Senate to follow suit and help make this a stronger and healthier New York for all.”

MILLER: OUR KIDS’ HEALTH MUST ALWAYS COME FIRST: The Assembly took an important and much-needed step in safeguarding our kids from lead poisoning by passing a measure to lower the statutory standard for elevated blood lead levels to reflect the most recent guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (A.5779). This bill also requires that any future changes to the US Department of Health and Human Services’ recommendations receive immediate state consideration.

Assembly Member Michael Miller released the following statement following the passage of the measure by the NYS Assembly: “We want nothing more than for our kids to be healthy, safe and happy. We’d do anything to protect them and provide a better future. But sometimes there are invisible dangers, like lead, that we don’t know about until it’s too late,” said Assembly Member Miller. “Lead exposure has caused severe health complications in children which is why I sponsored A.1805, a bill that would require evidence of the lead screening of children in any school. Absolutely no parent should have to worry that the water their family drinks or the home they live in is a hazard. And the health of absolutely no community should be ignored because of its ZIP code.”

GIANARIS ANNOUNCES EARTH DAY CELEBRATION FOR STUDENTS: NYS Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris announced his annual celebration of Earth Day. Senator Gianaris invites area students to submit entries to his poster contest, raising awareness of environmental issues. Submissions must be made on the Senator’s website: gianaris.nysenate.gov, and received no later than April 17th.

“Protecting our environment for the next generation is critical, and it’s best to involve them in raising awareness,” said Sen. Gianaris. “The ‘New’ New York Senate is proud to take a stand against climate change and I want the young people of Western Queens to dive into these challenges firsthand and learn about building a more sustainable future.”

The theme of Senator Gianaris’ poster contest this year is “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.” Posters will be displayed online. All participants will receive a certificate signed by Senator Gianaris.

A downloadable version of the contest’s informational poster is at bit.ly/2VhKnoK.

LEGISLATION TO ENSURE CHILD SAFETY ON SCHOOL BUSES: On March 5th, Assembly Member Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-South Queens) co-sponsored A.4950, a bill which seeks to protect the health, safety, and welfare of schoolchildren riding school buses. Specifically, the bill would amend the vehicle and traffic law in relation to school bus photo violation monitoring systems and owner liability for failure to stop for a school bus displaying a red visual sign. Under current law, a ticket for illegally passing a stopped school bus displaying a red visual signal can be issued only by a police officer who witnesses the violation. This bill provides for additional enforcement options by authorizing a demonstration program to allow local governments to impose liability on the owners of motor vehicles for the failure of the drivers of such vehicles to comply with the law prohibiting the overtaking and passing of stopped school buses displaying red visual signals. The program allows for the use of mobile cameras mounted on school buses, as well as stationary cameras.

“This bill will expand the enforcement tools available and seeks to significantly lessen the numbers of violations that continue to compromise the health, safety and well-being of our students who ride school buses,” Assemblywoman Pheffer Amato said. “I commend Assemblyman Magnarelli, the sponsor of this bill, and look forward to passage in the Assembly.”

“The Broad Channel Civic Association fully supports this effort on the part of Assemblywoman Amato to keep our children safe. We recently experienced a horrible incident in Broad Channel in which a driver totally ignored a school bus warning sign and struck a child exiting the bus. The child suffered serious injury and could have been killed,” Dan Mundy, President of the Broad Channel Civic, said. “It is a clear example that some motorists do not respect the bus warning indicator and that additional enforcement actions should be available to law enforcement to address those who would put our children in harm’s way.”

Several other states, including Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, Iowa, Virginia, Connecticut, and Washington, have enacted legislation similar to this bill in response to a growing national concern over illegal passing, or “stop arm violations.” As of February 12th the bill remains in the codes committee.

ROCKAWAY BEACH RESTORATION: Mayor de Blasio, Senator Schumer, Comptroller Stringer, Representative Meeks and Borough President Katz announced on March 4th an agreement between the city and the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to use dredged sand to re-nourish and restore Rockaway Beach between Beach 92nd Street and Beach 103rd Street. Depending on when dredging work commences and the severity of spring storms, the project should allow for the reopening of this stretch of beach this coming summer. USACE is expected to remove approximately 300,000 cubic yards of sand from the inlet and place it between Beach 92nd and Beach 103rd Streets to replace lost sand due to heavy erosion after last March’s back-to-back nor’easters.

US Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that following his successful push to include $7 million for the East Rockaway Inlet dredging project in the US Army Corps of Engineers’ FY2019 work plan, the Army Corps and the City of New York are moving forward with a joint plan to dredge the inlet and use the sand gathered there to replenish the eroded parts of Rockaway Beach that were closed last season.

Schumer’s push to renourish Rockaway Beach is part of his larger efforts to fund and expedite the Rockaway Reformulation Study, which will ultimately determine the solution for long-term erosion control and coastal protection projects along the Atlantic Coast between East Rockaway Inlet, Rockaway Inlet and Jamaica Bay. Last February, Schumer announced that he secured $730 million in federal funding for the construction of Sandy-related Army Corps projects, including the Rockaway Reformulation Study. Schumer said, “I fought hard to secure the extra money Army Corps needed to dredge the inlet, and it makes perfect sense to use that sand to shore up the most eroded parts of Rockaway Beach that had to be closed last season. Kudos to Mayor de Blasio and the Army Corps for working together in a way that provides a critical positive fix for this situation. No one wanted to have another partial beach shutdown again this summer.”

“Rockaway Beach defines summer in New York City,” said Mayor de Blasio. “Reopening this beach means a lot to this community and families all over the city. We’ve worked months with the Army Corps and our federal partners on a solution to get it done.”

Assembly Member Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Rockaway Beach) said, “The replenishment will serve as temporary relief for the years-long erosion plaguing our beaches. We’ve continuously rallied as a community to have our voices heard and today is the first step in the right direction. Going forward we need to stay focused on ensuring the long-term projects stay on track.”

“Rockaway Beach is a major attraction in the City of New York. It drives the economy of the peninsula and its resiliency is crucial to the residents, businesses and visitors. It is important that it be fully restored in time for this summer” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. “We look forward to the partnership that produced sand to allow our beaches to reopen this summer and the added resiliency benefits that this addition will bring.”

BILL PROVIDES PAID FAMILY LEAVE FOR FEDERAL WORKERS: Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (NY- 12), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (MD- 05), Congress Members Jennifer Wexton (VA-10) and Don Beyer (VA-08) joined with federal employees, workers’ rights advocates and unions to introduce legislation that would provide 12 weeks of paid family leave for federal employees.

The Federal Employee Paid Leave Act (FEPLA) would guarantee paid leave for all instances covered by the FMLA, which currently only guarantees unpaid leave.

“Paid family leave for federal employees isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do,” said Congress Member Maloney. “Paid family leave improves productivity, reduces turnover, boosts morale and attracts and retains more talent, which is exactly what our federal workforce deserves right now. We’re the only developed country in the world without some sort of paid leave policy. That needs to change. I’m proud to introduce the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act to give our federal employees 12 weeks of paid family leave and honored to have the support of Leader Hoyer, Congressman Beyer, and Congresswoman Wexton, along with our amazing advocates for families and federal employees.”

“It’s a travesty that the US government comes in last among developed nations when it comes to paid parental leave,” said Congress Member Don Beyer, “a benefit critical to starting a healthy family. Forcing new parents to choose between their child and a paycheck is an archaic practice that needs to end.”

The Federal Employee Paid Leave Act would guarantee 12 weeks of paid leave because of the birth of a son or daughter of the employee and in order to care for the child; the placement of a son or daughter with the employee for adoption or foster care; to care for the spouse, or a son, daughter, or parent, of the employee, if they have a serious health condition; a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform their work; or any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the spouse, or a son, daughter, or parent of the employee is on covered active duty in the Armed Forces.

LASAK ENDORSED BY LIEUTENANTS BENEVOLENT ASSN.: Judge Greg Lasak, candidate for Queens County District Attorney, announced that he’s been endorsed by the Lieutenants Benevolent Association of New York City, which represents more than 5,200 active and retired professionals from across the five boroughs.

“Judge Lasak has the experience and knowledge that make him uniquely qualified to be elected as the next district attorney of Queens county,” said LBA President Louis Turco. “He’s seen the criminal justice system from all angles and knows what it takes to make it work. And above all, he’s got a sense of fairness that’s unparalleled in this business – making him the perfect person to lead the Queens district attorney’s office forward in a responsible and professional manner. For these reasons and more, our membership is proud to offer him our full-throated endorsement in this race.”

“The Lieutenants in the NYPD put their lives on the line each day for the safety of our city and its residents. It was a privilege to work alongside them in the criminal justice system for the first part of my career,” Lasak said upon receiving the endorsement. “As I run for district attorney, I’m looking forward to the prospect of working with them again to keep all the neighborhoods in our borough safe. I’m proud to have them on my team and look forward to having them join us out on the campaign trail.”

BEFORE YOU DIG, CALL 811: Whenever someone plans on digging on their property for any reason, such as planting a tree or installing an in-ground pool, NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. reminds property owners to contact New York 811 to inspect the ground for any contaminants or utility lines. Sen. Addabbo said, “New York 811 has worked for nearly 30 years to make that process simple for homeowners and contractors.”

By law, contractors and excavators that work within the five boroughs, and within Nassau and Suffolk Counties, are required to call 811 at least 48 hours and no more than 10 business days before beginning any mechanized digging or excavation work. This is to ensure that any underground lines are marked. Having utility lines marked before digging is free of charge. Homeowners can contact New York 811 directly at 800-272-4480 or by simply calling 811. For excavation work to be completed on personal property, it is the contractor’s responsibility, not the homeowner’s, to contact New York 811.

New York 811 also helps to promote safe digging practices through various presentations, special events, partnerships, and public education and outreach events. To learn more about the 811 requirement or New York 811 and the services they offer, visit their website at www.newyork-811.com.

ADDABBO BILL FOR CANCER SCREENING MEASURE PASSES: The NYS Senate Civil Service and Pensions Committee passed bill S.3152, sponsored by Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr., providing New York State employees with a maximum of eight hours excused annual leave for cancer screening.

“Providing additional time off from work will encourage more individuals to get screened for all types of cancer, leading to early detection and improved health,” Addabbo said. “If you haven’t lost a friend or family member to cancer, you likely know someone who has gone through treatment. Providing employees eight hours for screening, equal to an average workday, could prove to be a benefit for a much longer, healthy lifetime.”

Approximately 600,000 people die from some type of cancer every year, but early detection has helped significantly lower cancer mortality rates. Treatment, survivorship and reduction of costs all greatly benefit from early detection, but working men and women often lack the opportunity or incentive to undertake the necessary screening. AFL-CIO also supports this legislation.

In the Senate, the next step for the cancer screening authorization bill is that it has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration. In the Assembly, the bill is in the Civil Service Law Committee.

BILL REQUIRES AGENCIES TO HOLD PUBLIC HEARINGS: NYS Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris announced the State Senate passed his legislation allowing state agencies to use new methods to engage New Yorkers in decision making. The bill, which passed unanimously, allows residents to petition agencies to hold public hearings during rule-making. The legislation also permits agencies to use new technologies, including live-streaming and teleconferencing, to hold hearings.

“More public input in agency decision-making will help government make better decisions,” said Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris. “This proposal would empower New Yorkers to force a public discussion of important proposed regulations before they are decided. I urge my colleagues in the Assembly to pass this important measure so policy-making can benefit from more public input.”

Gianaris’ proposal would require agencies to hold public hearings if 125 or more New Yorkers sign a petition requesting one. This would mark the first time New York State residents could petition their way into an agency’s rule-making process. Similar measures exist in other states including California, Arizona, New Hampshire, Idaho, Illinois, and Utah.

—With contributions by Annette Hanze Alberts

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