Queens Lawmakers On The Move June 10, 2019

Queens County City Council News

Sanders Urges Passage Of Bill To Increase MWBE Opportunities

State Sen. James Sanders Jr.

State Sen. James Sanders Jr. (D-Rochdale Village, Far Rockaway) last week joined by his Senate and Assembly colleagues held “MWBE [Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises] Advocacy Day” in Albany to urge legislators to extend Article 15-A and support the Mayor’s proposal to increase economic opportunities for MWBE’s.

The Mayor’s bill would allow the City to: (1) increase the discretionary purchase amount to $1 million, (2) authorize a mentorship program for NYC DDC, (3) create pre-qualified lists exclusively for MWBEs and small business, and (4) lift the burden of insurance by providing access to OCCIP and CCIP.

As the Chairman of the Senate’s Task Force on MWBEs, Sanders, along with his colleagues, have been working diligently to extend and improve Article 15-A  in order to better serve minority, women, and small business owners. The Task Force endorses the extension of the MWBE program to 2024 and the commission of a new study to be released in 2023.

Members of the MWBE community have tirelessly lobbied the legislative and executive branches of government for necessary improvements to the MWBE program. The Task Force endorses many of these improvements including increasing the discretionary spending threshold to $1 million for agencies and authorities and increased reporting requirements to provide greater transparency.

“This is a new day and age where all of New York will be involved,” Sanders said. “We have a few more doors we have to knock on, and one or two more we will have to knock over.”

Stringer Calls For Immediate Financial Relief For CityLights Housing Development

Comptroller Scott Stringer

City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer on Saturday sent a letter to the Empire State Development Corporation (ESD) calling for immediate financial relief for the low and moderate income residents of the CityLights housing development – an affordable co-op in Long Island City – who are facing a $5.2 million tax bill that could lead to the displacement of residents, particularly retirees living in the building.

But, the resident’s monthly maintenance bills are being driven up by more than just the tax bill. ESD also executed a high building wide mortgage at the time of construction completion, restricted the rents that CityLights can charge on their commercial spaces, and is charging CityLights a ground lease payment of $500,000 per year – compared to a $1 for most of the buildings built subsequently.

Stringer’s letter calls on ESD to find a workable long-term financial solution to ease the massive maintenance bills that CityLights residents face each month, which will prevent seniors and working New Yorkers from losing their homes.

“I remember growing up in Washington Heights during a time when more people were leaving the City than were moving in – but many New Yorkers stayed and created communities just like CityLights residents did over 20 years ago. But the residents of CityLights have been blindsided by a massive new tax bill, which threatens to displace working-class New Yorkers and sweep away their contributions. It’s wrong on every level,” said Stringer. “CityLights residents were sold the promise of affordable homeownership – a community to place their families and put down roots. But these buildings were set up to fail. If we want an affordable New York for all New Yorkers, we can prove it, by standing up for CityLights residents and preventing these crushing monthly bills.”

Comptroller Stringer’s letter calls on ESD to:

  • Amend the CityLights’s ground lease to be consistent with other developments built by the State agency as part of the Queens West Development Corporation (QWDC), most of which pay only $1 per year;
  • Correct ESD’s mistake of putting a large mortgage on the building, which drives up the monthly maintenance cost, in the form of grants, refinancing, or other assistance opportunities;
  • Because CityLights has committed the majority of its retail space to PS 78 at a cost that’s half the average rent – a fraction of the market rate value – ESD should find a means to offset the lower rent through either a grant or other means, which recognizes the public benefit of the school that has helped mitigate the potential impacts of developing other projects in the area by ensuring enough school capacity.

Schumer To FDA: Uncloud All Ingredients In Sunscreen

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) is demanding the  Food and Drug Administration (FDA) review all the active ingredients in sunscreen to determine which ingredients should be removed before ink on the new rules dries, which is set to occur in November of this year.

Schumer’s call comes after recent findings reveal many of its ingredients of sunscreen products can ‘seep into the bloodstream’ after twenty-four hours from application.

“There is no doubt about it: sunscreen has been a life-saver, but that doesn’t mean we can’t use the latest science and the best data to ensure that it is as safe as possible,” said Schumer. “That’s why, amidst the rare rewrite of sunscreen rules, where the FDA is looking into everything from packaging to protection, the one thing I am urging them to not get wrong and to move swiftly to address relates to the ingredients. We know very little about some of them and what they might do in our bloodstream, but we have the ability and the technology to find out.”

In February of 2019, the FDA announced its intention to update the regulatory requirements for most sunscreen products in the U.S. According to the FDA, the goal here is to “addresses sunscreen active ingredient safety, dosage forms, and sun protection factor (SPF) and broad-spectrum requirements.”

The FDA also proposed updates to how products are labeled to make it easier for consumers to identify key product information.

Ramos, Rozic Rally For Legalizing E-Bikes and E-Scooters

State Sen. Jessica Ramos
Assembly Member Nily Rozic

State Sen. Jessica Ramos (D-Corona, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights) and Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows), on Friday rallied to support the proposed state measures to legalize E-Bikes and E-Scooters.

Joining the lawmakers at the rally were members of the Deliver Justice Coalition, including Make the Road NY, The Legal Aid Society, Transportation Alternatives, and Biking Public Project, and delivery workers.

Advocates say the legislation, S5294/A7431, will have an immense impact in transportation deserts in the outer boroughs, and reduce congestion and carbon emissions from cars. Above all, this legislation is critical for New York City delivery workers, whose economic livelihood is entirely dependent on e-bikes. The immigrant delivery workers who use e-bikes, mostly Chinese and Latino immigrants, carry the brunt of the crackdown on e-bikes in New York.

“I am proud to sponsor legislation with Assembly Member Nily Rozic to legalize e-bikes and e-scooters. For many of my neighbors, who are immigrant delivery workers, using alternative modes of transportation is a matter of livelihood. Especially since we have not yet restored everyone’s right to a drivers license, legalizing e-bikes and e-scooters is a matter of equal access to our streets and our city. I encourage all of my colleagues to listen to the stories of delivery workers at today’s hearing and embrace these alternative modes of transportation as we also consider how to reduce carbon emissions.” said Ramos, the Senate bill sponsor.

“Not only do we have an opportunity to provide accessible and affordable transportation alternatives, but we have an opportunity to deliver economic justice for immigrant workers who have been disproportionately impacted by the criminalization of unregulated e-bikes,” said Rozic, the Assembly bill sponsor. “We are falling behind the rest of the country in adopting this next generation of sustainable mobility but we can change that by passing this legislation.”

Addabbo Offers Amendments To His Sports Betting Legislation

State Sen. Joseph P. 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) and Assemblymember J. Gary Pretlow  (D-Mount Vernon) have amended their legislation (S.17/A.6113) to address concerns expressed about their initial proposal to legalize sports betting in the state.

The amendments enable OTBs and New York Racing Association (NYRA) facilities to begin mobile sports betting via kiosk at the same time as the four upstate casinos already authorized to offer legal wagering. VLTs, Racinos, and arenas would be phased in afterwards. In addition, the amendments strengthen protections to address problem gambling, particularly among individuals under the age of 30.

“I continue to believe that legalizing sports betting, and enabling people to place wagers from their phones and other devices, has tremendous potential to create jobs and raise significant funding for education and other vital public programs. This amended bill expands on where and how an individual can place a sports wager,’ said Addabbo.

“Together with Assemblymember Pretlow, I intend to work with all interested parties in bringing legal sports betting to New York. We can’t just sit back and watch New York’s illegal sports betting business flourish while money flows out of our state and into New Jersey,” the lawmaker added.