Queens Lawmakers On The Move Feb. 27, 2018

Queens County City Council News

Schumer Slams Trump Proposal To Slash School Safety Funds 

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) Sunday slammed the just-released Trump administration’s Department of Education budget proposal for fiscal year 2019, which makes $425 million in cuts to school safety and mental health assistance programs.

Schumer said the budget proposal eliminates numerous grant programs aimed at helping local school districts such as the “project prevention grants,” which provides federal funds to local educational agencies to increase their capacity to identify, assess and serve students exposed to pervasive violence and helps ensure that affected students are offered mental health services for trauma or anxiety. The grants also help implement school-based violence prevention strategies to reduce the likelihood that these students will later commit violent acts.

Specifically, the administration’s budget proposal also eliminates the SERV program or the “School Emergency Response to Violence Program”, which funds education-related services to help them recover from a violent or traumatic events in which the learning environment has been disrupted, said Schumer.

“We are in a time where we need to do more—not less—to ensure our schools have the resources, programming and the federal dollars to address everything from the safety and mental health of students, to support for teachers and administrators. And it is particularly troubling that we are in the midst of a national tragedy in Florida and having to talk about these cuts because the students impacted by the Parkland shooting are going to need the exact kinds of funding and support that Newton received in the wake of that horrific shooting,” said Schumer.

“That’s why I am pledging to work with republicans and democrats across the aisle to undo these senseless Department of Education cuts to our nation’s schools and why I am confident Congress can pass the test and work together to make our schools safer, not less safe, as this budget could very well do,” he added.

Koo Hearing To Address Threats To Low-income Lifeline Program

City Council Member Peter Koo/via Facebook

City Council Member Peter Koo (D-Bayside, College Point, Flushing, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Fresh Meadows, Whitestone) tomorrow will kick off his being chair of the council’s Technology Committee with 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.

“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,” said Koo.

The hearing is open to the public and slated for 1 p.m., tomorrow, Feb. 28 at 250 Broadway, 14th Floor Committee Room, in Lower Manhattan.

Avella Joins in Calls to Extend Historic Preservation Tax Credits in State Budget  

Sen. Tony Avella

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-College Point, Whitestone, Bayside, Flushing, Jamaica Estates, Fresh Meadows, Bellerose, Floral Park, Jamaica, Douglaston, Little Neck, Auburndale, Kissena Park, Briarwood) yesterday signed on to a letter from fellow Senator David Valesky (D-Syracuse) addressed to the State Senate’s Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-LI) and Independent Democratic Conference Coalition Leader Jeff Klein (D-Bronx) )requesting that the senate include the extension and decoupling of the historic preservation tax credits in the Senate’s 2018-19 one-house budget proposal.

“The State Historic Tax Credits are set to expire in 2019 and, as the Legislature has done in the past, it is imperative that we extend this program long before the expiration date arrives. Municipalities across New York recognize the economic impact of the State Historic Tax Credits and seek program eligibility through National Register Historic District nominations. These National Register nominations can take up to a year for completion and designation. Extension in the 2018-19 budget will ensure that projects currently in the pipeline for investment and rehabilitation continue to move forward, with investor and developer confidence that the program will remain in place,” the letter reads.

Avella, a longtime proponent of historic districts and preservation, has successfully rezoned large parts of his district and is the author of a number of pieces of legislation in Albany to protect the historic architectural characteristics of towns throughout the state.

“As someone who has been a champion for historic preservation throughout my lifetime, I feel it is necessary that we extend these tax credits well before they expire. These tax credits have proven to be valuable tools for preservation throughout our state and to get rid of them would be harmful to many regions,” said Avella.

Lancman Holds Hearing on “Open File Discovery”

City Council Member Rory I Lancman

City Council Member Rory I. Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows, Hollis, Holliswood, Jamaica, Jamaica Estates, Jamaica Hills, Kew Gardens, Kew Gardens Hills, Richmond Hill), chair of the council’s Justice System Committee, today will hold an oversight hearing to examine district attorney procedures concerning “open file discovery.”

“Open File Discovery” is an increasingly employed method of criminal discovery as part of criminal court proceedings wherein the prosecutor will afford defendant counsel access to the entire investigative file rather than make a more specific and limited presentation of exculpatory or otherwise discoverable material.

The Committee has solicited testimony from the city’s five district attorneys, legal services providers and additional stakeholders on the current application of New York’s discovery law in the five boroughs, and on recommendations for improving the discovery process.

Lancman has asked the five district attorneys to produce written copies of their existing discovery policies and procedures.

The public hearing is slated for 10 a.m., today, Feb. 27 at the City Hall Committee Room in Lower Manhattan.


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