Queens Lawmakers On The Move May 29, 2019

Queens County City Council News

Simotas Introduces Legislation To Combat Sexual Abuse By Medical Professionals

Assembly Member Aravella Simotas

Assemblymember Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria) yesterday announced she is introducing a series of measures to address sexual misconduct in health care settings.

The legislation was inspired by the testimony of advocate Marissa Hoechstetter at Friday’s joint legislative hearing on sexual harassment. Hoechstetter was one of over 20 survivors who reported being sexually assaulted by former gynecologist Robert Hadden. Since coming forward, she has fought to reform the systems that enabled this serial predator to retain access to patients for more than two decades.

The first bill that Simotas is proposing will mandate that all medical professionals pass background checks as a condition of initial licensure. New York is currently one of just six states without this requirement, which Hoechstetter testified could make the state attractive to doctors with criminal histories. The bill also requires that physicians who were licensed in other states undergo background checks including review of any past actions for professional misconduct.

“When the state fails to do its due diligence to ensure individuals seeking medical licenses are fit to provide care, it jeopardizes patient safety and endangers public health,” Simotas said. “As we’ve seen, patients are extremely vulnerable to sexual abuse from their doctors and we must make every effort to prevent these abhorrent violations. This commonsense legislation will protect patients by ensuring that doctors with histories of violence, negligence and misconduct are not authorized to practice in New York.”

The second bill directs the Office of Professional Medical Conduct to publicize information on their website explaining the rights and reporting options available to patients who have been subjected to sexual misconduct at the hands of a health care provider.

“A major issue that emerged from Marissa’s story was how incredibly difficult it is for someone who has been sexually abused by their doctor to navigate our reporting systems,” Simotas said. “It is crucial that we make information on the Office of Professional Medical Conduct’s complaint procedures clear and accessible to all patients.”

The third bill requires that doctors provide written notice to their patients if they are subject to ongoing proceedings, placed on probation or disciplined by the Office of Professional Medical Conduct; have been subject to the revocation, surrender, suspension or limitation of their medical license; or have been found guilty or entered into a settlement agreement for a medical malpractice claim.

Additionally, the bill requires these doctors to notify any new patients of these events before providing a consultation or beginning treatment.


Meng Pays Tribute To The Thousands Of Chinese Immigrants Who Helped Build The Railroad

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), today will join officials from the U.S. Postal Service and the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) in an unveiling ceremony for new postage stamps commemorating the 150th anniversary of America’s Transcontinental Railroad, and the contributions that Chinese immigrant laborers made in building it.

Between 1865-1869, approximately 12,000 Chinese laborers worked under extremely dangerous and challenging conditions to help construct the railroad, which connected the United States from coast-to-coast. The workers, who endured discrimination, harsh treatment and unequal pay, are credited with playing an integral role in the growth of America and being an important part of U.S. history.

This month marks the 150th anniversary of the railroad’s completion. A total of three Transcontinental Railroad Forever Stamps will be unveiled during the ceremony. The Transcontinental Railroad has long been considered one of the most remarkable engineering feats of the 19th century. It reduced cross-country travel times from six months to a single week. In Congress, Meng has worked to recognize and honor the sacrifices that the Chinese railroad workers made in constructing the railroad.

The unveiling is slated for 1 p.m., today, May 29 at the Museum of Chinese in America, 215 Centre Street (between Howard and Grand Streets and one block north of Canal Street) in Lower Manhattan.


Dromm Chairs Hearing On Property Tax Interest Rates

City Council Member Daniel Dromm

City Council Member Daniel Dromm (D-East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights), chair of the council’s Finance Committee, today will hold a committee hearing today examining resolutions dealing with interest rates on late property taxes.

The first resolution is to establish that the interest rate be 7 percent per annum for FY’20 for non-payment of taxes on properties with an assessed value of not more than $250,000, or not more than $250,000 per residential unit for cooperative apartments.

The second resolution is to establish that the interest rate be 18 percent per annum for FY’20 for non-payment of taxes on properties with an assessed value of over $250,000, or over $250,000 per residential unit for cooperative apartments.

The third resolution would establish that the discount percentage for early payment of real estate taxes be set at one-half of one percent per annum for FY’20.

The public hearing is slated for 10 a.m., today, May 29 in the Committee Room at City Hall in Lower Manhattan.


Vallone Marches in the Whitestone and Little-Neck Douglaston Memorial Day Parades

City Council Member Paul Vallone

City Council Member Paul Vallone (D-Alley Pond Park, Bay Terrace, Bayside, College Point, Douglaston, East Elmhurst, Flushing, Fresh Meadows, Little Neck, Whitestone) on Memorial Day marched alongside veterans, first responders and community groups in both the Whitestone and Little Neck-Douglaston Parades.

The Whitestone Veterans Memorial Association Memorial Day Parade is an over-70-year-old tradition, and the Little Neck-Douglaston Parade is in its 92nd year and is believed to be the largest parade of its kind in the United States.

“I was honored on Monday to march in the Whitestone and Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parades,” said Vallone. “As always, our community groups, leaders and families came together with pride to honor the memory of those servicemen and women who lost their lives defending this great country. To come together in such overwhelming numbers is testament to the fact that we will always stand united with our Veterans. A big thank you is owed to those organizers and volunteers who helped make these parades possible!”

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