Schumer, Gillibrand Call On DOT To Increase Train Safety Measures
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-Brooklyn) and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-Queens) joined a group of 13 Senate Democrats to call on Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao to hold railroads accountable for failing to implement sufficient safety measures last week.
The Senators have requested a status report on railroads’ implementation of positive train control (PTC), a lifesaving technology required by Congressional mandate to be fully implemented by 2018. The Senators’ letter comes four days after an Amtrak train derailed in DuPont, Washington, killing three and injuring dozens more. The Washington tragedy is the latest in a troubling trend of fatal train derailments and collisions. In just the last four years, three deadly train accidents have occurred in the Northeast corridor that might have been prevented if PTC enforced.
The letter also contained a list of questions regarding PTC implementation in the upcoming year including:
- Based on the reports and information provided to you by railroads, and your knowledge of efforts necessary to complete PTC implementation, what railroads do you anticipate will have fully implemented PTC by the end of 2018?
- What railroads do you anticipate will fail to implement PTC by 2018?
- What is your plan to impose fines and penalties for railroads that fail to comply with the law?
- Can you confirm that you will be vigorous in enforcing the deadline, imposing strong fines and penalties, where necessary, on railroads that fail to meet the deadline?
- How are you communicating your enforcement plans to the industry?
- What steps are you taking to implement other provisions of law and safety requirements, such as requirements from the 2015 surface transportation bill, known as the FAST Act, that passenger and commuter railroads complete a speed-limit action plan (section 11406) to prevent over-speed accidents into curves and commuter railroads improve inspection practices (section 11409)?
- What level of funding will be included in the President’s yet-to-be-released infrastructure proposal to expedite PTC implementation and advance other rail safety efforts?
- What steps is DOT taking to approve and expedite the use of federal funds and grants by recipients for the implementation of PTC?
“Since NTSB first recommended PTC, more than 300 people have died, thousands have been injured, and millions of dollars in property damages have been incurred. The PTC deadline is now almost one year away – December 31, 2018. It is imperative that railroads complete implementation before the deadline. They must clearly understand that the consequences of failure will be stringent and prompt,” wrote the Senators.
Donovan Helps NYPD Secure Repayment For Protecting Trump
Congressman Dan Donovan (R-South Brooklyn, Staten Island) announced that the New York Police Department (NYPD) was awarded a federal grant to cover overtime costs related to protecting President Trump and his family last week.
The grant will be provided through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Presidential Residence Protection Assistance (PRPA) Grant program, which will reimburse state and local law enforcement agencies for law enforcement personnel costs incurred while protecting any non-governmental residence of the President. The grant program is funded through the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2017, legislation that Donovan helped pass earlier this year.
The NYPD received $36,427,908.51 through the PRPA Grant, which was the highest amount of funding allocated to any locality in the nation. In 2017, FEMA provided $41,000,000 in PRPA awards for reimbursement.
“It’s a national priority and federal responsibility to protect the leader of the free world. The brave men and women of the NYPD have done an exceptional job of securing the President and his family, and this funding is well deserved. I’m pleased to see that my advocacy on behalf of the City and NYPD has led to increased compensation for the additional costs associated with the President’s security while in New York,” said Donovan.
Golden Announces New Laws Protecting NYS Babies
State Senator Martin Golden (R-Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach) announced the implementation of a new law that helps reduce bureaucratic red tape for the families of premature infants and other newborns needing specialized care last week.
The measure S. 6053, which took effect Dec. 22, will remove insurance requirements for prior authorization determinations when infants need medical care in neonatal intensive care units (NICU). Golden voted to support the legislation which passed earlier this year.
Additionally, the state Department of Health (DOH) recently announced that coverage of pasteurized donor human milk (PDHM) in Medicaid fee-for-service will start this month, and coverage under Medicaid Managed Care will begin February 15, 2018. This coverage was advanced by the Senate and adopted in this year’s budget in order to help prevent deadly complications faced by premature infants in NICUs.
Also the Newborn Health and Safe Sleep Pilot Program, S. 3867A, was signed into law in October, which provides education to parents about safe sleep practices and explores the use of “baby boxes.” Baby boxes provide infants with a secure place to sleep and includes educational materials and newborn essentials that encourage healthy and safe practices.
“The enactment of these important laws will ensure fragile babies have access to the care that gives them the best chance for survival. The measures, along with the Newborn Health and Safe Sleep Pilot Program established this year, will make great strides in reducing infant mortality rates, and premature births, in New York,” said Golden.
Williams Celebrates Holiday Season
City Council member Jumaane Williams (D-Flatbush, East Flatbush, Midwood) commemorated the Holiday season this year as Christmas drew to a close yesterday.
This year Christmas fell on Monday giving many people an extra long weekend to celebrate the Christian holiday this year. New Year’s will also fall on Monday as people prepare for the coming year at the start of next week.
“Today, millions of Christians around the world are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Jesus, the son of G-d, began his life on Earth as a humble immigrant who sought a better life, and the revolutionary values of equity and justice that he proclaimed have sustained across centuries,” said Williams
“As we exchange gifts and engage in traditions with our families and friends, let us exhibit love and kindness as a reflection of the true reason for this holiday and what is honored on Christmas. The holidays are about coming together as one family to celebrate the blessings we have been given and the values we hold dear, together.”My family, my staff, and I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,” added Williams.
Schumer Announces Passage of Child Autism Safety Law
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-Brooklyn) announced Senate passage of his legislation, “Kevin & Avonte’s Law” which would help locate children with autism who wander from the safety of their caregivers last week.
The new bill will create and fund a program to provide voluntary tracking devices and expand support services for families who care for someone with autism, dementia, or other special needs, where “bolting,” “elopement,” or “wandering” from parents or caregivers can happen.
S. 2070, the Kevin & Avonte’s Law of 2017 for which Schumer is an original co-sponsor, reauthorizes and expands an existing program, the Missing Alzheimer’s Disease Patient Alert Program, to include children with a developmental disability like autism. The new program, called the Missing Americans Alert Program, will be administered by the U.S Justice Department and provides grant funding to law enforcement agencies, public safety agencies, and non-profits for wandering prevention education work, as well as to provide caregivers with tracking devices that they and law enforcement could use to quickly locate a missing loved one. The program will be completely voluntary for parents, and will work in conjunction with schools, local law enforcement and other entities with experience in this area, such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).
Just this month, a non-verbal child with autism wandered away from his school in Harlem. The same week, a Bronx child with autism was found wandering around a subway station. Schumer first introduced the bill in response to a fatal incident that occurred in 2014, when Avonte Oquendo, a non-verbal boy with autism, bolted from his Long Island City school to be found in the East River three months later.
“Making voluntary tracking devices available to vulnerable children with autism who are at risk of wandering will help put countless families at ease. This legislation, ‘Kevin & Avonte’s Law,’ will create and fund a program to provide voluntary tracking devices and expand services for children and families with ASD or other developmental disorders in which wandering is common,” said Schumer.