MANH Lawmakers On The Move April 4, 2019

Manhattan Lawmakers on the Move bannner

Velazquez Seeks Additional Superfund Dollars For EPA

Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez

Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (D-Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens) has led more than 100 of her Congressional colleagues in calling for a boost in federal dollars for the “Superfund” environmental remediation program at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The National Priorities List (NPL) or “Superfund” program helps to clean up over 1,300 environmentally contaminated sites throughout the nation. Velázquez’s district, New York’s 7th, contains all or part of three Superfund sites: the Gowanus Canal, Newtown Creek and the Wolff-Alport Chemical Company.

In a recent letter to members of the Appropriations Committee legislators called for increasing Superfund appropriations to $1.46 billion in Fiscal Year 2020, an increase of over $300 million above Fiscal Year 2019 enacted levels.

“This increase in funding would help ensure the Superfund program has resources to operate at maximum efficiency, helping cleanup environmental sore spots,” said Velázquez, the letter’s author. “I’m proud so many of colleagues joined my call for this additional funding.”

Johnson, Council Members Join Lawsuit To Remove Citizenship Question to 2020 Census

Council Member Corey Johnson
Council Member Corey Johnson

New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen) and nine other Council Members filed a joint amicus brief to oppose the U.S. Department of Commerce’s decision to include a citizenship question in the 2020 census this week.

On Monday, April 1st an amicus brief was filed in support of plaintiffs in Department of Commerce v. New York, currently before the U.S. Supreme Court. It addresses whether a citizenship question should be added to the 2020 census, a controversial move by the federal government.

The U.S. Census, conducted every 10 years, is vital to determining the allocation of more than $900 billion of federal funding. In March 2018, the Commerce Department led by Secretary Wilbur Ross, announced that the upcoming census would include a citizenship question for the first time since 1950. The department officials claim the question will help to enforce the Voting Rights Act.

Since the announcement, many critics and immigrants worry that the information obtained from the question could be used against them which could result in inaccurate data and a loss of hundreds of millions of dollars away from programs that support public education, nutrition, healthcare, victims of crime, community development, rehabilitation centers and unemployment insurance, among so many others

“This question will have a negative impact on the response rate, and the end result will be an irresponsible undercount of the population. Adding a citizenship question to the Census – a question that has not been used in this way for close to 70 years – perpetuates this administration’s attack on our communities: we risk losing funds and political representation because people have cause to fear responding to the census,” said Speaker Johnson.

MANH Lawmakers Announce Paper Bag Fee Bill Alongside New Plastic Bag Ban

Council Member Ben Kallos
Council Member Ben Kallos
Council Member Keith Powers
Council Member Keith Powers

City Council members Ben Kallos (D-Yorkville, Lenox Hill) and Keith Powers (D-Upper East Side, Carnegie Hill) alongside Council colleagues earlier this week environmentalists, environmental justice groups, and community organizations, announced their intention to introduce legislation to include a 5-cent fee on paper bags, as part of the plastic bag ban just passed by the New York State Legislature.

The State Legislature adopted a statewide plastic bag ban as part of the FY 2020 budget over the weekend. However, the legislation leaves the option of a fee on paper bags open to each municipality. In Suffolk County, where a 5-cent bag fee has been in place for a year, there has been a reduction of over 1 billion single-use bags.

Under the state legislation, 3 cents of the fee will go to the NYS Environmental Protection Fund, and 2 cents will go to the City for the purchase of reusable bags. Council Members and advocates promised a large-scale distribution of free reusable bags, focusing on low-income communities and seniors, to make sure everyone has the reusable bags they need.

“A long-overdue plastic bag ban continues the positive trend of eliminating unnecessary waste and making green decisions for our City, including the polystyrene foam ban implemented this year. Thank you for Council Members Lander and Chin for their ongoing work on this, and the Senate for common-sense policy,” said Powers.

“Any decrease in the 23 billion bags New Yorkers throw out every year means less oil being pumped out of the ground, less garbage for landfills and fewer plastic bags in our waterways or stuck on tree branches in our parks. New York City will be better because if this, proving that the hard work it took to get here was worth it,” said Kallos.

More from Around New York