Queens Lawmakers On The Move July 30, 2018

Queens County City Council News

Meng Legislation Permitting Menstrual Hygiene Products As Tax Deduction Passes House

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Bayside, Flushing, Forest Hills, Rego Park, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Maspeth) last week saw the House pass legislation she authored that would allow menstrual hygiene products to be purchased with money from health flexible spending accounts.

Health flexible spending accounts allows employees to set up a pre-tax dollars account to pay for eligible health care expenses. The money in these types of accounts is contributed from an individual’s paycheck.

The measure passed as part of the Restoring Access to Medication and Modernizing Health Savings Accounts Act (H.R. 6199), a bipartisan bill that seeks to expand health spending accounts.

”The passage of my legislation is a major leap forward in our fight for menstrual equality,” said Meng. “It brings us another step closer towards making menstrual hygiene products more accessible and affordable to women. Menstrual hygiene products are essential and necessary for women, and deserve to be items that are permitted to be purchased with health flexible spending account funds. There is no reason why menstrual products should not be included, and I am thrilled that we are on the path to finally changing that wrongheaded policy. I look forward to my legislation now moving through the Senate.”

Under Meng’s provision, which passed the House this week and was approved last week by the House Ways and Means Committee, health flexible spending account funds would be allowed to be used for numerous types of menstrual hygiene products such as tampons, pads, liners, cups, sponges, or similar items used by women with respect to menstruation.

In addition to her health flexible spending account legislation, Meng has authored the Menstrual Equity for All Act (H.R. 972) which seeks to help different populations of women and girls better access menstrual hygiene products, and the Menstrual Products Right to Know Act (H.R. 2416) which aims to improve the safety of menstrual hygiene products. The Congresswoman also convinced FEMA to add menstrual hygiene products to the list of items that homeless assistance providers can purchase with federal grant funds, and as a result of her efforts, the Federal Bureau of Prisons agreed to provide female inmates with menstrual products free-of-charge.

Avella Honors Community Leader Pauline Chu, with Highest Civilian Honor

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) last week presented local leader, Pauline Chu, with a New York State Senate Liberty Medal.

The Liberty Medal is one of the senate’s highest civilian honors that can be bestowed upon a state resident. In the medal, Avella honors longstanding leaders in their communities for decades of service.

Chu was born in China, brought up in Taiwan and graduated from National Taiwan Normal University. In 1967, she came to US as a graduate student at the University of Minnesota major in Guidance and Counseling. She moved to New York in 1980 and raised two sons, both attended local public schools, graduated from SUNY Albany.

Chu founded the Chinese-American Parents’ Association (CAPA) in 1986. The organization assists thousands of immigrant families in assimilating into the American culture and School System. Under her leadership, CAPA has helped parents promote their English skills and encourage families to participate in local civic activities and voter registration drives.

Chu was elected to Community School Board 25 Queens in 1986, and became the President of the board in 1996. During her tenure, she worked with the Queens Borough President and legislators to ease overcrowding in the district by adding more classrooms and leasing space for kindergarten children.

Chu received many awards for her public and community service from different civic organizations and political leaders including American Red Cross, The Queens Botanical Garden, Comptroller Asian-American Heritage Month Award, FDR Democratic Club and the Eastern Queens Democratic Club.

“People who dedicate their lives making their communities, and in Pauline’s instance, schools, a better place often go unrecognized for their tremendous contributions over decades of service. Pauline has touched the lives of thousands of students and families over the years,” said Avella.

“I am proud to be able to honor her for her tireless work with the Chinese-American Parents Association (CAPA) and on behalf of the countless families whose lives she has and will continue to impact,” he added.

Sanders’s Mobile Office Coming to Locust Manor

State Sen. James Sanders Jr.

State Sen. James Sanders Jr. (D- Richmond Hill, South Ozone Park, Jamaica, Rochdale Village, Rosedale, parts of Far Rockaway) is bringing his office to Locust Manor a week from today.

Sanders said if constituents are having difficulties, need assistance, resources or other advice, they should come in and talk to him and/or his staff.

Share your thoughts and opinions on how we can make the community better – together,” he said.

The mobile office is slayed for 10 a.m. to 12 noon, Monday, August 6 at the Summerset at Locust Manor, 170-06 Baisley Boulevard in Jamaica.

Cuomo Inks Deal For SNAP Benefit Use At Framers Markets

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) announced last week that the state and the Farmers Market Federation of New York have reached an agreement with the mobile application vendor, Novo Dia Group, to enable Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients to continue to use their benefits at farmers’ markets across the state through the rest of the farmers’ market season. 

Earlier this month, Cuomo issued a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue urging federal action on this issue.

“New York will not stand idly by as the federal government’s ineptitude takes food out of the mouths of New Yorkers,” Cuomo said. “This is just another example of the Trump administration’s continued assault on the nation’s most needy. While the federal government doles out a contract to an untested company using outdated technology, we will continue to protect not only our most vulnerable residents, but our hard-working farmers.”

Recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded the new contract that provides SNAP EBT equipment and services for farmers’ markets to a company that does not support mobile, cellular-based transactions, denying hundreds of thousands of needy families the opportunity to purchase fresh, nutritious, locally-grown fruits and vegetables. 

With no replacement technology in place, and no foresight by the federal government to anticipate this situation, both farmers and SNAP beneficiaries would have suffered. The Novo Dia Group, which worked with the USDA to develop the cellular mobile technology that enables farmers’ markets to accept SNAP benefit cards for purchases, had indicated that they were no longer able to continue in business due to the lack of continued support from the USDA.