Queens Lawmakers On The Move May 7, 2019

Queens County City Council News

Weprin’s Insurance Fraud Bill Passes Assembly Unanimously

Assemblymember David Weprin

Assemblyman David I. Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows, Richmond Hill) yesterday announced his bill, A3985 also known as Alice’s law, which imposes criminal penalties on those who engage in staged accidents for the purposes of insurance fraud passed the Assembly unanimously.

The legislation makes the staging of an accident to commit insurance fraud a class E Felony and in cases where a serious physical injury or death occurs, a class D felony punishable by up to seven years in prison.

Alice’s Law was inspired by 71-year-old Queens grandmother, Alice Ross, who was killed in a staged accident in 2003. These staged accidents result in fraudulent insurance claims for fake crash injuries costing companies and their policyholders upwards of $1 billion per year. Furthermore, these activities pose a serious public safety risk especially for women and elderly drivers who are often targeted for these accidents because they are considered less likely to be confrontational.

“The loss of revenue to taxpayers resulting from this type of fraud is staggering, but the loss of human life is simply unacceptable. Arranged auto accidents and insurance fraud of this type must be stopped and the time to do it is now,” said Weprin. “I look forward to the day when this bill is finally passed in the Senate and signed into law by the Executive.”

Williams Launches Driver Mental Health and Wellness Program

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams today will join with the Independent Drivers Guild (IDG) at a press conference to announce the launch of a first-of-its-kind mental health and wellness program for New York’s for-hire drivers.

The press conference is In response to an epidemic of for-hire vehicle driver suicides and desperation among drivers across the city. The IDG is launching an innovative with support from The Black Car Fund (BCF). Also joining will be City Council Members Ydanis Rodriguez (D-Washington Heights, Inwood, Marble Hill) and Diana Ayala (D-East Harlem, The Bronx), who chair the City Council’s Transportation and Mental Health, Disabilities and Addictions Committees respectively.

The press conference is slated for 10 a.m., today, May 7 at Vital Transportation, 41-24 38th Street (4 blocks from the 40 St. – Lowery St. 7 Train stop) in Long Island City.

Cuomo: Kosciuszko Bridge Construction Ahead Of Schedule

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced yesterday that the second span of the Kosciuszko Bridge will open in September 2019, a full four years ahead of schedule and on budget.

The bridge, part of an $873 million design-build construction project, will encompass five Queens-bound travel lanes and four Brooklyn-bound travel lanes of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, plus a 20-foot-wide bikeway/walkway on the Brooklyn-bound span with spectacular views of Manhattan.

The project has helped to support approximately 11,300 jobs in construction and related fields in the New York City metropolitan region.

“This is going to be the first new bridge built in New York since the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in 1964, so it is special in many ways. The old bridge was designed to handle 10,000 vehicles but was actually handling 200,000 vehicles – it was way over capacity, narrow and steep, creating problems for trucks and causing severe bottleneck,” Cuomo said.

“When the bridge opens in September there will be nine lanes of traffic. We advanced the schedule and we’re saving four years, which is critical because an entire generation has grown up without seeing really new, dramatic, big projects getting done. But New Yorkers still can do it. We can still do great things when we put our mind to it, and we can still do it right and do it well and we can still make it beautiful. That’s what this bridge says to me, and I hope it says that to the people of New York.”

Ramos Bill To End Non-Consensual Exams Passes Senate

State Sen. Jessica Ramos

State Sen. Jessica Ramos (D-Corona, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights) yesterday saw the Senate pass her bill, S3353, to establish informed consent for medical procedures during education or training.

Teaching physicians are routinely instructing medical students to practice performing pelvic examinations on unconscious and anesthetized patients who are undergoing surgery. Alarmingly, the majority of patients are unaware that this practice is happening because no informed consent was given prior to these examinations and no documentation of these exams is kept.

“When New Yorkers are in the care of a doctor, they must be aware of all procedures they will undergo,” said Ramos. “Informed consent must be given by the patient for all procedures, even if just for training purposes. It is of utmost importance to instill the value of informed consent on medical students in New York.”

Ramos’s bill mandates that a patient be notified of any and every health care procedure or examination. The fact that the procedure of examination is performed in the course of education or training does not diminish the requirement for informed consent. Students will only be able to perform examinations after patients have given explicit consent.

Gillibrand Floats Legislation Protecting Consumers Against Discrimination In Credit lending

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García (D-IL) yesterday announced a new bill, the Protections in Consumer Lending Act, to help protect people against discrimination when they apply for different types of credit.

Although it is illegal for credit lenders to discriminate against credit applicants due to their race, religion, sex, marital status, or age, it is still a widely recognized problem and there is currently no method of tracking if discrimination has taken place. The Protections in Consumer Lending Act would require credit lenders to collect information on which applicants have been approved or denied from the following credit transactions: automobile loans, credit card applications, cash checking, small dollar loans, payday lending, and loans with annual percentage rates above 36 percent.

“We know that discrimination in credit lending is a problem, but we need more data to understand the scope of it. People depend on credit to be able to buy a car, start a business, and get personal loans. Access to fair credit is essential to establishing financial well-being, but if someone is discriminated against and can only get expensive terms for their loans, it becomes harder for them to get ahead in life,” said Gillibrand. “My bill would help create transparency in the credit-lending process and help identify when discrimination is taking place. We need to do everything we can to make sure that there is fairness in the financial system, and I urge all of my colleagues to fight with me to pass this bill.”  

Addabbo Bill Giving Vets College Credit Passes Committee

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) yesterday saw his legislation (S.2741) ensuring New York State veterans are able to receive college credit at SUNY and CUNY for applicable military training approved by the Senate Standing Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs.

“Our servicemen and women develop new skills and knowledge every day while serving in armed forces,” said Addabbo, a long-time member of the Veterans Committee. “My proposal will ensure they are able to get academic credit for all they have learned, which will help them complete their SUNY and CUNY degree programs more quickly. As a result, our veterans will be even better equipped to succeed in the labor market when their tours of duty are completed.”

In order for veterans to receive academic credit for their military training or service, the college courses in which they are enrolled would need to meet the standards of the American Council on Education (ACE) or otherwise adhere to equivalent standards for awarding credit to students for life experience.

While the ACE is already engaged in awarding credit to veterans through the use of Joint Services Transcripts (JSTs), Addabbo’s bill would make it clear that SUNY and CUNY can accept military transcripts as a source of transfer credit.

The legislation, which has passed the full State Senate several times in recent years, will now be scheduled for a vote on the Senate floor before going to the State Assembly for consideration.

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