Brooklyn Lawmakers On The Move June 14, 2019

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Jeffries, Velazquez, Clarke To Host Community Speak Out On Health Care &Prescription Drug Pricing

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries
Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez
Congresswoman Yvette Clarke

Congress members Hakeem Jeffries (D-Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Bed-Stuy, Brownsville, East New York, Canarsie, Mill Basin, Coney Island, parts of Queens), Nydia Velazquez (D-Brooklyn, LES, Queens) and Yvette D. Clarke (D-Crown Heights, Flatbush, East Flatbush, Brownsville, Sheepshead Bay) will host a Community Speak Out on health care and the skyrocketing cost of life saving prescription drugs.

The community discussion comes just days after Jeffries introduced “Terminating the Extension of Rights Misappropriated” (TERM) Act of 2019 on Tuesday. The legislation would address the rising cost of prescription drugs by significantly limiting the process known as “evergreening”whereby pharmaceutical companies make minor changes to a drug and file for a new patent on those trivial changes in order to extend their exclusivity and maintain high prices. The bill is co-sponsored by Representative Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26) and Representative Ben Cline (VA-06).

Under existing patent statute, generic drug manufacturers must prove why a new patent should not be granted on existing medication. This process adds significant costs to generic manufacturers and slows the ability of lower cost drugs to be released. The TERM Act shifts that burden of proof to pharmaceutical companies, who would have to reasonably demonstrate why changes to a drug qualify it for a new patent.

The event also follows Jeffries’ quality of life Town Hall which looked at health disparities in Brownsville and East New York. The event will also be held amid the House Democrats healthcare weekend of action.

Currently, prescription drug expenses constitute nearly 20 percent of health care costs and are growing faster than any other health care expenditures. As of 2017, Americans spend more on prescription drugs — average costs are about $1,200 per person per year — than anyone else in the world, according to Jeffries office.  

The event is slated for 11 a.m., Saturday, June 15, at the Spike Lee Screening Room, Library Learning Center, 1 University Plaza in Fort Greene.

Rose Calls On NYCHA To Take USPS Offer To Install Parcel Boxes

Max Rose
U.S. Rep.-Elect Max Rose

Congressman Max Rose (D-South Brooklyn, Staten Island)  and Staten Island and South Brooklyn elected officials are calling on the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) to work with the United States Postal Service (USPS) to install parcel delivery boxes in public housing complexes to help ensure safe and reliable package deliveries without requiring residents to go to the Post Office to pick them up.

At a recent roundtable hosted by Rose to address long-standing postal issues residents have been facing, USPS representatives indicated that they offered to install parcel boxes in NYCHA complexes for free, but the housing authority failed to move forward on the proposal. Due to lack of safe delivery options, NYCHA residents often have to go to post offices to pick up package deliveries.

New York State Senators Diane Savino (D-Bensonhurst, Brighton Beach, Coney Island, Dyker Heights, Gravesend, Sunset Park, Staten Island) and Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island), Assemblymembers Michael Cusick (D-Staten Island) and William Colton (D-Gravesend, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, and Dyker Heights), and Councilmembers Mark Treyger (D-Coney Island, Bensonhurst, Gravesend), Deborah Rose (D-Staten Island), and Steven Matteo (R-Staten Island) all joined Rose in calling on NYCHA to act.

The offer comes as USPS has been working with South Brooklyn lawmakers to address delivery issues at South Brooklyn post offices including Dyker Heights, Gravesend and Homecrest. At a roundtable last month, USPS made commitments to work with Rose and community leaders to resolve parking issues, late-night delivery issues, wrong addresses deliveries, as well as increase package delivery safety, provide updates on the installation of phishing-proof mailboxes, and provide officials with mail scam warnings in languages other than English.

“We understand your agency is operating under a significant funding shortfall and are therefore shocked you would not aggressively pursue a free avenue to improve the quality-of-life for your tenants,” wrote Rose and the elected officials to Kathryn Garcia, Interim Chair and CEO of NYCHA.

“We hope your agency can provide an adequate explanation for the delay in Parcel Box installation, and following that, a timetable for which this improvement can be implemented in the NYCHA complexes within New York’s 11th Congressional District. This is a great opportunity and we should take advantage of it immediately,” concluded the letter.

Clarke Introduces The DEEP FAKES Accountability Act

Congresswoman Yvette Clarke

Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (D-Crown Heights, Flatbush, East Flatbush, Brownsville, Sheepshead Bay) yesterday introduced the DEEPFAKES (Defending Each and Every Person from False Appearances by Keeping Exploitation Subject to) Accountability Act (H.R. 3230).

“Deep fakes” are altered videos that are so deeply altered using artificial intelligence yet appear to be real. The legislation holds video-creators accountable when altering videos and would require malicious deep fakes to be labeled with a watermark and a disclaimer identifying them as manipulated content.

Clarke’s legislation aims to prevent election interference from both foreign and domestic players who could use deep fake technology to alter images and videos of candidates running for office. The measure holds deep fake creators, who fail to disclose their edits, accountable while also providing victims a legal course of action.

Specifically, the DEEPFAKES Accountability Act would:

  • Require creators of deep-fakes to disclose any alterations to the video or other content (by including irremovable digital watermarks, as well as textual descriptions of the alterations), subject to criminal and civil penalties;
  • Create a private right of action for victims to sue deep-fake creators who exclude the required disclosures, as well as an in rem litigation procedure for victims to vindicate their reputations when the creator of the deep-fake cannot be brought into court (such as foreign governments);
  • Update existing statutes which prohibit false personation and identity theft to include digital impersonation; and
  • Encourage the federal government to expand research efforts to develop deep-fake detection technologies.

“Americans are only as good as the information they receive and believe to be true, so when covertly faked videos come across their screens, I knew I needed to be a leader in protecting our American elections from this unbeknownst deep fake interference. The DEEPFAKES Accountability Act means everyday Americans will have clear indications when content is faked–and when content doesn’t abide by this, we will hold these content creators accountable in a court of law,” said Clarke.

Ortiz Asks Governor To Support Kidney Transplants For Everyone

Assembly Member Feliz Ortiz

Assembly member Felix Ortiz (D-Sunset Park, Red Hook) yesterday in a letter called on Governor Andrew Cuomo to support his legislation to provide state support for organ transplants for everyone.

Currently, non-citizens are denied coverage for such operations, while covered for more expensive emergency dialysis treatments. The call comes as the state legislative session is coming to close, the last day expected on June 19.

In New York, public financial assistance is only made available to undocumented persons seeking emergency medical care. Undocumented persons experiencing end-stage renal failure often undergo costly state-covered emergency dialysis treatment on a regular basis at emergency facilities. Dialysis patients will need this expensive treatment for the remainder of their lives.

“Kidney transplantation ends this routine emergency dialysis expenditure by the state. While the upfront cost of a transplant is higher than the annual cost of dialysis, the state will save money over time as the annual fees associated with post-transplant medication are drastically lowered compared to the price tag of emergency dialysis,” said Ortiz.

“New York has an opportunity as a national leader on this issue. New York ranks second to last out of the fifty states in per capita registered organ donors. I believe that expanding kidney transplantation to undocumented persons would encourage more donor enrollment across the state. A family member is more likely to enroll as a donor where relatives in need of a kidney transplant are able to obtain one within New York State,” added Ortiz.

Eugene To Hosts Co-Naming Ceremony For “Dr. Lamuel A. Stanislaus Way”  

Councilmember Mathieu Eugene Photo by Phoebe Taylor Vuolo

City Council member Mathieu Eugene (D-Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Flatbush, East Flatbush) will host the Street Co-Naming Ceremony for “Dr. Lamuel A. Stanislaus Way” at the corner of Rutland Road and Flatbush Avenue this weekend.

A native of Grenada, Dr. Stanislaus was a respected leader and community activist, whose career was defined by his over 30 years of service as a dentist and later his appointment as a Permanent Representative of Grenada to the United Nations. He also served honorably as Granada’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Representative to the United States from 1985-1990 and again from 1998-2004.

As a result of his dedication to the community and to his homeland of Grenada, Dr. Stanislaus was the recipient of numerous professional, civic, and political awards, including the Insignia of the Commander of the British Empire from her Majesty the Queen of England. He also received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, and the Distinguished Service award from the Brooklyn Historical Society. Additionally, Dr. Stanislaus used his role as the voice of the Caribbean community to forge relationships with Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm and Governor Mario Cuomo.

One of Lamuel Stanislaus’ legacies to his country, and to eleven other small commonwealth countries at the United Nations, is what is known as the Small States Joint Office at the UN, where the larger Commonwealth States gave the Small States well-appointed shared office space, rent free, for the past twenty-six years and counting. Eugene will be joined by the family of the late Dr. Stanislaus, distinguished guests, and community leaders whose lives were impacted by his legacy of work.   

“Dr. Stanislaus meant a great deal to this community for so many years, not only as a proud son of Grenada, but also as someone who wanted to make a difference. Dr. Stanislaus was a statesman whose work contributed to the betterment of New York as well as many countries in the Caribbean,” said Eugene.   

The event is slated for 11 a.m., Saturday, June 15, at the Northeast Corner of Rutland Road and Flatbush Avenue in Prospect-Lefferts-Gardens.

Gounardes Applauds Passage of Bill Providing Unlimited Sick Leave For NYC Workers Who are 9/11 Responders

State Senator Andrew Gounardes
State Senator Andrew Gounardes

State Senator Andrew Gounardes (D-Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach, Gravesend) yesterday hailed State Senate passage of bill S. 5890, a measure that will provide unlimited sick to New York City workers who were 9/11 first responders.

In the years since 9/11, at least 10,000 first responders and people around the World Trade Center have been diagnosed with cancer, and at least 2,000 have died. The toll for emergency responders from 9/11-related diseases continues to rise.

The unlimited sick leave bill is one of three pieces of legislation known as the “9/11 Heroes Bills.”

“The Senate passage of my bill to guarantee unlimited sick leave for New York City’s workers who were 9/11 first responders is a big step towards ensuring that every person who answered the call of duty on that terrible day has the sick leave they need,” said Gounardes.

Any New York City worker who responded on and after 9/11 must have unlimited sick leave guaranteed, not subject to the whims of any mayoral administration or an individual agreement. We cannot stop until this bill becomes law,” added Gounardes.

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