Brooklyn Lawmakers On The Move June 24, 2019

News Site Brooklyn

BP Adams Applauds Passage of State Law Decriminalizing Marijuana

Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams

Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams last week applauded the New York State legislature for passing legislation aimed at addressing the racial disparities that are present in New York’s antiquated marijuana drug laws.

Last Friday, the Senate Majority passed legislation that would decriminalize small amounts of marijuana and establish procedures for record expungements for both past and future convictions.

Decriminalization of Marijuana, S.6579A, will:

  • Decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana by reducing the penalty for unlawful possession of marijuana to a violation punishable by a fine.
  • Establish procedures for automatic record expungement both retroactively and for future convictions.
  • Remove criminal penalties (since a violation is not a crime) for possession of any amount of marijuana under two ounce.
  • Reduce the penalty to a $50 fine regardless of criminal history for possession under one ounce, and a $200 fine regardless of criminal history for possession between one and two ounces.
  • Add marijuana to the definition of “smoking” under the Public Health Law so that smoking marijuana will be prohibited in any circumstances where smoking tobacco is prohibited by law

African-American and Latinx individuals are arrested at higher rates for misdemeanor marijuana possessions. In New York City, African-Americans are eight times more likely to be arrested on low-level marijuana charges and Latinx people are arrested at five times more. The racial disparities for arrests are wider for cities in Upstate, NY. According to the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), African Americans living in Schenectady County are 74 times more likely to be arrested on a marijuana charge.

“By decriminalizing possession and expunging low-level marijuana convictions across the state, we are turning the page on decades of flawed policies that mostly served to incarcerate men and women of color. The convictions in particular held many people of color back from accessing jobs, housing, education, and much more, and expunging these records is a good step toward righting past wrongs. Additionally, the revenues from legalization should be mostly directed toward historically disadvantaged communities, to give them the opportunity to participate in the legal industry,” said Adams.

Malliotakis Applauds Halt of Automatic Voter Registration Bill

Assembly Member Nicole Malliotakis

Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis (R,C,I,Ref-South Brooklyn, Staten Island) alongside Assemblyman Colin Schmitt (R-New Windsor) last Friday applauded the State Senate Democrats for pulling the Automatic Voter Registration bill from getting approval from the State Assembly after a critical typo in the measure would have forced non-citizens to register despite their ineligibility.

The typo erroneously instructed non-citizens to register to vote by not checking an opt-out box, the New York Post reported. Voting while not a citizen can result in severe penalties, including prison time. The correct version of the bill should instruct non-citizens to check the box and opt out of registering to vote.

The measure would enable agencies like the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Office of Children and Family Services, the Department of Health, Department of Veterans Services and Military Affairs and the Department of Labor to automatically register residents to vote, unless the resident specifically opts out. The Senate, which had already voted to enact the bill, recalled it Thursday night, according to the Queens Eagle. The state lawmakers called the error a “significant technical issue.”

Malliotakis and Schmitt protested passage of the bill, referring to it as the “Automatic Voter Fraud” bill. The technical issue comes off the heels of state passage of the Green Light Bill. The measure would allow undocumented immigrants to apply for a driver’s license in New York. The Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act would allow driver’s license applicants to use valid foreign documents — including foreign-issued passports — to verify their identity with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

“We are proud that we stood together and pointed out the outrageous flaws in this legislation that would have led to illegal immigrants being automatically registered to vote, jeopardizing the integrity of our elections. While Assembly and Senate leadership have now pulled the bill citing a “significant technical issue,” we are deeply disturbed that the Senate passed this bill and Assembly Democrats planned on bringing this to a vote up until we spoke out,” read a joint statement.

Montgomery, Simon Applauded Start Of Construction on $72M Affordable, Supportive Housing Development

Senator Velmanette Montgomery photographed by tracy collins
Senator Velmanette Montgomery
Jo Anne Simon
Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon

State Senator Velmanette Montgomery (D-Fort Greene, Boerum Hill, Red Hook, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Sunset Park, Gowanus, Park Slope) and Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon (D-Downtown Brooklyn, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill) last week applauded the start of construction on Nevins Street Apartments, a $72 million mixed-use affordable and supportive housing development in Downtown Brooklyn.

Last Thursday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the start of the project, which will include the gut rehabilitation of a century-old building and the new construction of an adjacent ten-story building. Nevins Street Apartments will offer 129 affordable apartments, including 78 supportive homes reserved for individuals with mental illness and 3,100 square feet of commercial space. Additionally, building amenities include common laundry facilities, 24/7 front desk security, a community room, a gym and yoga room and a classroom. Financing for the new development is part of the Governor’s and State’s $20 billion, five-year Housing Plan.

All apartments are affordable to households earning at or below 60 percent of the area median income, with one apartment reserved for a superintendent. Of the 129 apartments, 78 will be reserved for formerly homeless individuals, including those with a serious mental illness, substance abuse disorder, veterans and young adults. Residents will have access to comprehensive onsite support services including counseling, safety planning, public benefits management and advocacy, parenting and life skills, family reunification and stabilization, health education, social and recreational services and linkage to community services.

“Too often we don’t build for people who already live and work in this city, especially in Brooklyn which is becoming out of reach for most of us. This is the type of housing that realistically meets the needs of many of my constituents and provides the kinds of services that allows those with additional struggles to live independently and contribute to the community,” said Montgomery.

“There’s a housing crisis in New York City and it’s so important that we create more supportive housing, preserve the affordable housing we have, and bring it into the 21st century. I am delighted that the Nevins Street Apartments will be updated and comfortable for members of our community that are most in need,” said Simon.

Schumer Demanding Crack Down On ‘Fake’ E-Cig Flavor Pods

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) is demanding a federal crackdown to inspect, detect and stop dangerous and unregulated e-cig products from gaining access to the U.S. marketplace.

Schumer’s concerns come on the heels of an uptick in online access to counterfeit flavor pods,  a recent seizure of hundreds of fake ‘Juul’ pods destined for the New York-area, and new concerns over how easy it is to be fooled by the likely-dangerous fakes. Schumer is urging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to take new action against the emerging health epidemic.

One of the e-cig brands most popular amongst youth is “Juul.” Juul is just one variation of e-cig –though it is the market leader in the youth demographic–with flavored liquid. The device, like its product counterparts, comes in a variety of flavors and can be easily concealed by kids in the classroom because it looks identical to a USB flash drive. Now, counterfeit or ‘fake’ Juul pods, manufactured predominantly in China, are being imported to the U.S., according to Schumer’s office.

They’re often made in unregulated facilities and with substandard materials. Ingesting and inhaling these counterfeit products can pose great danger to consumers because there is no way to verify the authenticity or safety of the ingredients or manufacturing process, according to the Patch. While counterfeit Juul pods look nearly identical to the original products made in the U.S., there is no telling whether the flavors are safe for users or those exposed to the vapor that is exhaled. As part of his letter to the Acting FDA Commissioner, Schumer is calling on the FDA to immediately study and test these products, and release the findings publically.

Industry reports show that factories in China are making hundreds of thousands of fake ‘Juul’ pods per month, and that the number of independent shops selling these products has nearly doubled since the start of the year. These counterfeit pods work with existing e-cig devices, like Juul, and appeal to youth through packaging and flavors. Not only are the counterfeit pods made with unknown ingredients and in unknown conditions, but they can be sold online with virtually no age-verification requirements, Schumer explained. There are two ways in which these illegal pods are hitting the market: illegally compatible pods that market themselves under a different name but are compatible with Juul devices, and counterfeit pods that call themselves Juul products.

“That is why, amidst an emerging ‘fake’ e-cig flavor pod explosion I am urging the feds to get real focused: crackdown on illegal online sales, implement plans to more vigorously inspect and detect illegal shipments, and altogether remove these faux pods from the U.S. marketplace. We have had success in reining in the kid-friendly flavors here at home. But now we have to demand the full attention of the FDA and CBP to beat back the fake e-cig flavor pods flooding the market and putting the health of young people at risk,” said Schumer.

Ortiz Applauds Passage Of Measure Increasing Eligibility of Military Service Men in Public Service

Assembly Member Feliz Ortiz

Assemblymember Felix Ortiz (D-Sunset Park, Red Hook) last week applauded State Assembly passage of legislation that increases the eligibility of military duty personal for public service positions (A.8348).

Certain public service jobs, including fire fighters, have age requirements for certain positions and promotions. Members of the armed forces who have been absent on military duty may exceed the age requirements upon their return to civilian life.

This legislation will increase by one, the number of years that can be deducted when computing the age for these applicants.

“Our veterans deserve recognition and support for their years of military service. More veterans like Shaun Donovan, a Navy Seal who applied to the FDNY, passed the exam and was told that he missed the cut off by a little over 6 months, should be able to qualify for public service employment when they return to civilian life,” said Ortiz.

“This legislation will provide for one additional year that can be deducted when computing the age for these applicants,” added Ortiz.