Queens Lawmakers On The Move Oct. 12, 2018

Queens County City Council News

Gillibrand Says Social Security Cost Of Living Increase Not Enough

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D), a member of the Senate Aging Committee, yesterday said the Social Security Administration’s announcement of a 2.8 percent Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) for 2019 Social Security benefits is inadequate in helping the nation’s seniors.

“At a time when Congress is rewarding their corporate donors with tax breaks for investments overseas, they continue to shortchange our seniors. This cost of living adjustment is not enough in the face of rising costs for seniors who contributed their earnings into Social Security their whole working lives,” said Gillibrand.

 “As an original cosponsor of the Social Security Expansion Act, which would change COLA increases to reflect what seniors actually spend their money on, including skyrocketing health care costs and prescription drugs, I am calling on Congress to consider this legislation immediately. By using a Consumer Price Index for elderly consumers, every year seniors would be able to receive increased benefits. The Social Security Expansion Act would also ensure that all Americans pay their fair share, and it would increase minimum benefits and extend the Social Security trust fund for more than six decades.

“Our Seniors should not be living one large expense away from poverty. Congress should listen to the American people and strengthen and expand Social Security, and one step we should immediately take is to make sure that benefits cover the expenses seniors face every day,” she added.

Weprin Highly Critical Of DHS Proposed Changes To Immigrant Use Of Social Services

Assembly Member David Weprin

Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows, Richmond Hill) yesterday blasted the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) proposed rule change that would render immigrants who receive certain forms of public assistance (i.e. Medicaid, Medicare, SNAP and Section 8 vouchers) potentially ineligible for U.S. permanent residency (Green Card).

In September 2018, DHS announced it would significantly broaden the criteria it could use to label an immigrant applying for legal residency as a “public charge.” The rule change was published in the Federal Register earlier this week, kicking off a 60-day public comment period.

“The Trump Administration through the Department of Homeland Security has renewed its attack on immigrants and the poor by broadening the interpretation of the public charge by proposing to use certain public services such as food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid and public-housing programs as tools to exclude law abiding immigrants from obtaining visas. These programs are not handouts but helping hand-ups that allow countless individuals to thrive in our nation,” said Weprin.

“The proposed changes to the interpretation of Public Charge will undoubtedly harm our borough of Queens, where immigrants make up nearly half of the population, by discouraging people from accessing vital resources. Our country should be open to all and access should not be sold off to the highest bidders. As such, I encourage all New Yorkers to submit public comments opposing this despicable attack on our values and call on the Trump Administration to immediately rescind this inhumane rule change.”

Meng Secures Provisions Combatting Airplane Noise

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Bayside, Flushing, Forest Hills, Rego Park, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Maspeth) secured several measures in the FAA Reauthorization Act that the President recently signed into law, including provisions that seek to mitigate airplane noise over Queens and other communities across the country.

The bill includes Meng’s provision that sets a deadline for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to develop new methods of measuring aircraft noise. The FAA bill also contains provisions that Meng fought to include with members of the Quiet Skies Caucus. These provisions mandate a robust community engagement process for new or adjusted flight paths and procedures, a study on the health impacts of flight noise in New York and other parts of the country, an update to noise exposure maps to determine eligibility for noise mitigation funding, and reviews of phasing out older aircrafts with loud engines.

“Residents of Queens continue to do battle against the deafening airplane noise that has plagued our borough for way too long,” said Meng, a founding member and former Co-Chair of the Quiet Skies Caucus. “I have worked on numerous initiatives to combat this problem and many of the provisions in the FAA Reauthorization Act will help us make major progress in this fight. The people of Queens deserve relief!”

U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi

“As Co-Chair of the Quiet Skies Caucus, I’m proud of the work the caucus is doing to increase awareness of this issue and demonstrate to all Members of Congress that the concerns of our constituents are significant and demand action,” said U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Queens/Long Island). “Today, with the multiple provisions included in the FAA Reauthorization Act, we are taking another step closer to mitigating aircraft noise and improving quality of life for those impacted.”

In addition to the noise pollution provisions, Meng secured a number of other items in the FAA bill. They include:

  • A provision requiring the FAA to update its cybersecurity policies in order to protect aircraft electronic systems from cyberattacks.
  • A provision establishing a Collegiate Training Initiative program that prepares students for careers involving unmanned aircraft systems. Under the Collegiate Training Initiative, the FAA partners with colleges across the country to offer degree programs in aviation and air traffic control.
  • A provision requiring the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to issue a report to Congress on each air carrier’s employee training policies regarding racial, ethnic, and religious nondiscrimination. The measure would also require the Secretary of Transportation to develop and share with air carriers best training practices that would be crafted in response to the GAO report.
  • A provision Meng cosponsored that encourages women and girls to enter the aviation industry. Under the measure, an advisory board would be created to expand scholarship opportunities and enhance aviation training, mentorship, education, and outreach programs to women.

The FAA Reauthorization Act reauthorizes funding for the FAA through 2023. The President signed the bill late last week.

Addabbo Celebrates Italian-American Heritage At Columbus Day Dance

Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr.

State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth, parts of South Ozone Park, Ridgewood, Woodside, The Rockaways) on Sunday is inviting constituents to celebrate Italian-American heritage during a Columbus Day Dance in Howard Beach.

During the festivities, The Generation Gap will be performing popular tunes and light refreshments will be served.

“It is that time of year to acknowledge and celebrate the many important contributions Italians and Italian-Americans have made to the United States,” Addabbo said. “I would like to thank the Our Lady of Grace parish for opening their space to us for this event, as well as The Generation Gap for providing the musical entertainment for the night.”

The dance is slated for between 7-9 p.m., this Sunday, Oct. 14 at the Our Lady of Grace Parish Hall, 100-05 159th Avenue in Howard Beach. For more information about this event, contact Addabbo’s office at 718-738-1111.