Queens Lawmakers On The Move June 29, 2018

Queens County City Council News

Meeks Introduces Resolution Honoring Contributions of African Americans to America’s Musical Heritage

U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks

U.S. Rep. Gregory W. Meeks (D-Jamaica, Laurelton, Rosedale, Cambria Heights, Saint Albans, Springfield Gardens, Far Rockaway, JFK Airport) along with U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) yesterday introduced a Congressional resolution designating June as African American Music Appreciation Month, to recognize the contributions of African Americans to America’s music heritage and to raise awareness of the need for greater access to music education for African American students.

“As radio and music industry professional Dyana Williams once said, ‘Black music is American music.’ Yet, despite this, African-American music education in largely absent or lacking in classrooms across the nation,” said Meeks.

According to the National Assessment for Educational Progress Arts Assessment, African Americans students scored lowest of all ethnicities. Another study found that only 15% of all students in music ensembles and only 7% of all licensed music teachers are black. A recent Department of Education study found that only 28% of African-American students receive any kind of arts education.

“Music is more than entertainment, it’s a connection to a heritage and a culture. For African Americans, that heritage has endured through oppression to produce and influence the most innovative genres in music history. For students to become more engaged in their music education, it is important for them to see their own culture reflected in their curriculum. This Resolution urges a renewed effort to educate all students about cultural heritage in music,” continued Meeks.

Avella Presents Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Network with State Grant 

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 presented a state grant of $100,000 to the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Network. to support the recently established center.

The LGBT Network first opened its doors to the community in Manhattan, and now Avella is happy to provide the necessary resources to grow the Network’s newest location in Long Island City.

The growing team intends to broaden its outreach within the Long Island and Queens LGBTQ Community by using the state grant funds to promote education, advocacy, youth leadership, and support.

Yesterday was National HIV Testing Day, and the Network has set up four locations in Queens and Manhattan to provide free HIV testing to the community throughout the week. It is services like this that Senator Avella is excited to see expand within his own District and beyond.

“For too long the LGBTQ community has gone without the proper resources that it needs to thrive,” saidAvella.“I am proud to help the Center continue its mission and provide necessary services to this community.”

Adams Joins DCA To Educate Businesses Without Issuing Violations

City Council Member Adrienne Adams

Council Member Adrienne E. Adams (D-Jamaica, Rochdale Village, Richmond Hill, and South Ozone Park) today will join officials from the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) and the Department of Sanitation (DOS) in conducting a Business Education Day in Jamaica.

Teams will conduct violation free educational visits to local businesses to inform them about the workplace, consumer protection, and licensing laws that apply to them.

The event is slated to start at 11:30 a.m. yoday, June 29 at 95-01 Sutphin Blvd in Jamaica. (The team will head Southeast on Sutphin Blvd ).

Meng Introduces Bill Helping Migrant Children Separated From Their Parents

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Bayside, Flushing, Forest Hills, Rego Park, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Maspeth), In the wake of her visit to the U.S.-Mexico border last weekend, introduced two pieces of legislation that would improve conditions for children who have been separated from their parents.

The Better Care for Kids Act (H.R. 6223) would improve training that federal personnel who care for separated children receive by requiring that they use best practices when caring for infants and toddlers. The bill would ensure that personnel are trained to properly care for tender-age children, particularly to minimize trauma they may be experiencing.

Meng’s other measure, the Child Advocate Program Reauthorization Act (H.R. 6223), would reauthorize the Child Advocate Program, an initiative that appoints independent child advocates for vulnerable alien unaccompanied children and child trafficking victims.

The bill would extend the authorization through 2022. Just this month, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced its desire to cover 550 minors through the program in nearly a dozen locations throughout the country including in New York. The authorization for the program expired in 2017.

“It is appalling that parents who had their kids ripped away from them are still separated from their children, and that the President still has no concrete plan to bring them back together,” said Meng. “But while these children are detained without their parents, it is essential that the government provide them with the best care possible, and that they have advocates who are on their side. My bills would ensure that children are afforded these vital protections, and I urge all of my colleagues to support these two measures. It is critical that the best interests of these children be served.”

Both bills have been referred to the House Judiciary Committee where they are awaiting further action.

CM Miller Supports Council Resolution Supporting Public Sector Unions

Council Member I. Daneek Miller

City Council Member I. Daneek Miller (D-Cambria Heights, Hollis, Jamaica, Jamaica Estates, Laurelton, Queens Village, Springfield Gardens, St. Albans),  chair of the Committee on Civil Service and Labor Chair, yesterday supported a council resolution that will incentivize the payment of union dues by employees protected by the union.

The rally and resolution are in response to the US Supreme Court’s decision yesterday (June 27) in Janus v AFSCME.

In its decision, the Supreme Court overturned previous decisions ruling that public sector unions were allowed to collect union dues from employees in the field they represented, whether or not an employee chose to join the union.

The resolution calls on the New York State government to authorize New York City to provide a dollar-for-dollar income tax credit to payers of union dues. Such legislation would incentivize union membership among New York City residents and soften the blow that unions are expected to take from the Janus decision, Miller believes.

“Yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling was a bouquet to corporate interests that will wound our country’s dwindling middle class,” said Miller. 

“By denying public sector unions their fair share to collectively bargain, the right-wing hopes to advance the so-called Right-to-Work dogma that ultimately leads to poverty, privatization, and grossly underfunded civil services. We in the labor movement have endured many a storm while fighting to promote the upward mobility, health, and safety of every worker. This latest challenge will ultimately prove no different because the value of the wages, healthcare, and pensions that are achieved through membership in a union cannot be quantified,” he added.

The proposed income tax credit would match union due payments made by New York City residents dollar-for-dollar, meaning they would incur no effective cost by paying union dues. The credit would require New York State approval.