Queens Lawmakers On The Move May 23, 2019

Queens County City Council News

Meng Legislation To Keep Women And Girls Safe In Refugee Camps Passes House

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Bayside, Flushing, Forest Hills, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Maspeth, Middle Village, Rego Park), yesterday announced the House passed the bipartisan legislation she helped write making restrooms in refugee camps safer for women and girls.

The measure, entitled the Refugee Sanitation Facility Safety Act (H.R. 615), would require recipients of U.S. refugee and migration aid to provide safe and secure access to sanitation facilities, with a special emphasis on women and girls, and vulnerable populations.

“Refugee camps should be safe havens for those who have been forced to flee their countries and that includes secure facilities for restrooms,”said Meng, a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations. “But unfortunately, many bathrooms in refugee camps do not provide appropriate safety protections. Many refugee camps lack adequate access to such facilities and often times the restrooms are mixed-sex, public, and without locks or well-lit paths.

“These conditions create a lack of privacy and dignity and make women and girls afraid to use the restrooms, fearing that they may be assaulted and subjected to violence while using the bathroom. These types of conditions are unacceptable. Nobody should have their safety jeopardized in order care for their most basic hygiene needs. My bill would finally combat this problem, and I’m pleased that the House is now addressing the issue,” she added.

Of the 42 million people who have had to flee their homes due to war, 80 percent are women and children, and at least 10 million are estimated to be girls and young women, according to a report by the Women’s Refugee Commission.

Gianaris Bill Allows Workers to Request Reasonable Changes in Work Schedules

State Senator Michael Gianaris

State Senator and Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside and parts of Woodside, Maspeth, Ridgewood, Woodhaven) announced yesterday the Senate passed his legislation(S.3665) to allow employees to request flexible work schedules.

“New York State must do more to help working families. Many businesses already take the steps outlined in my proposal and it’s time others follow their lead,” said Gianaris. “Adjusting someone’s work schedule to accommodate caring for an aging parent, school children, or medical appointments is both fair and productive. I look forward to this bill becoming law.”

The legislation would require employers to consider reasonable requests for a flexible work schedule and be responsive to the employee’s request.

The bill now moves to the Assembly, where it is sponsored by Nily Rozic (D-Flushing, Queensboro Hill, Hillcrest, Fresh Meadows, Oakland Gardens, Bayside, Douglaston).

Simotas, Advocates Demand Better Protections Against Harassment And Discrimination

Assemblymember Aravella Simotas

Assemblymember Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria) and advocates from across the state gathered at the capitol this week to call upon the legislature to expand protections against harassment and discrimination in the workplace.

Simotas advocated for bill A7083-A, her comprehensive piece of legislation that expands protections for employees who want to report wrongdoing by their employers from a number of angles.

The bill eliminates the Faragher/Ellerth defense and removes the requirement that workplace abuse be proved “severe or pervasive” to be significant under the law. It also adds protections to domestic service workers, makes employers liable for harassment and discrimination committed by independent contractors and allows employees to claim punitive damages if they experience workplace harassment.

Overall, the measure would help shift the balance of power in harassment and discrimination proceedings away from bad employers and level the playing field for employees who are often trampled by big corporations or powerful supervisors under our current policies.

“Employees who take steps to come forward and report harassers should not face the possibility of further harassment. Employers need to be proactive and look to prevent harassment from happening, and we need to hold them to that standard.” Simotas said “This legislation is a big step forward as it serves to eliminate distinctions between harassments by including stronger protections for all groups that could be subjected to discrimination in the workplace, including, but not limited to, sexual harassment. It is a signal that harassment or discriminatory behavior is not acceptable and we are prepared to make certain it is not happening on our watch in New York State.”

Addabbo Joins In Passing Legislation To Help Address Opioid Crisis

Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr.

State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth and parts of South Ozone Park, Ridgewood, Woodside, The Rockaways) recently joined with his Senate colleagues in approving several pieces of legislation designed to combat the opioid crisis and ensure greater intervention services for New Yorkers struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol.

“This package of bills is aimed at providing us with better information about the specific opioids that are leading to the most deaths in New York, and giving health care professionals greater resources to identify patients who may be at risk of severe medical issues associated with their substance abuse,” said Addabbo. “In addition, we are hoping to implement new safeguards to better intervene with drug abuse treatment patients who are showing signs of relapse.”

The first bill (S.1668), which is co-sponsored by Addabbo, would require that death certificates issued in New York provide the name of the specific drug involved when an opioid overdose is listed as the cause of death, and the person signing the document is certain of the substance involved. “This will provide important data regarding fatalities that are tied to specific substances, such as Fentanyl, and allow for more informed public policy responses to the opioid epidemic,” he said.

The second bill (S.2507), also co-sponsored by Addabbo, would increase resources and provide additional training for health care providers to expand the Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) program.

A third bill (S.4741) supported by Addabbo would enable family members and others who are already authorized to receive medical information about a patient to be notified when a patient treated in a chemical dependence program or facility demonstrates symptoms of a relapse, such as missing appointments or failing drug tests.

Having passed the Senate, the death certificate legislation is now under review by the Assembly Committee on Health. The other two bills are being considered by the Assembly Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.

Lancman, Rosenthal Announce PS 164 Officially Designated as a Poll Site

City Councilman Rory Lancman.
Assembly Member Daniel Rosenthal

City Council Member Rory I. Lancman (D-Kew Gardens Hills, Pomonok, Electchester, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest, Jamaica Estates, Briarwood, Parkway Village, Jamaica Hills, Jamaica) and Assembly Member Daniel Rosenthal (D-Kew Gardens Hills, Kew Gardens, Pomonok, Electchester, College Point and parts of Whitestone, Richmond Hill, Briarwood and Forest Hills) announced yesterday that the Board of Elections has officially designated P.S. 164 in Kew Gardens Hills as a poll site, and will be open for the June 2019 primary election.

P.S. 164 has not been used as a polling site since 2012 because the school was not in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act. To rectify this, Lancman allocated $375,000 and late Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz allocated $125,000 in state grants to provide a new ramp and chairlift for the school. Construction and installation are now complete.

“It is great news for our community that P.S. 164 will once again be a polling site, and accessible to all voters,” said Lancman. “This project has been a priority of mine, and I am glad to see it become a reality.”

“Having P.S. 164 reopen as a polling site is a win for our community,” said Rosenthal. “Our residents deserve a location that is convenient and accessible. I am glad to see this project through in ensuring these goals.”

The Board of Elections is sending out mailings in following Election Districts (EDs) to let residents know that their polling site will be relocated to P.S. 164:

  • EDs 127, 2427, 2527 (were voting at PS 165)  
  • EDs 1727, 8027 (were voting at St Nicholas of Tolentine)  
  • ED 3027 (were voting at PS 168)