Queens Lawmakers On The Move June 24, 2019

Queens County City Council News

Schumer Urges Fed Crackdown On Counterfeit E-Cig Products

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) is sounding the alarm and demanding a federal crackdown to inspect, detect and stop dangerous and unregulated e-cig products—many from China—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.

“As is the case with lots of American ingenuity, China is at it again, copying and cashing in on the popularity of e-cigs here in New York and beyond. But in the case of dangerous e-cig copycat flavors cooked up in some foreign lab, the stakes are too high and concern the public’s health and safety,” said Schumer. “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.”

Simotas Passes Criminal Justice Reform To Expand Record Relief

Assemblymember Aravella Simotas

Assemblymember Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria, Parts Of Long Island City) announced on Friday that the Assembly passed her legislation (A8160) to expand record relief for people convicted of crimes in their youth.  

Individuals who were denied youthful offender status are currently unable to seek relief through the conviction sealing provisions of the Raise the Age Law, perpetuating inequities in the justice system. The Simotas bill would correct this shortcoming by amending the criminal procedure law to allow individuals who were eligible youth but denied youthful offender adjudication to apply to the sentencing court for a new determination if at least five years have passed since the sentence was imposed or the individual was released from incarceration, and they have not been convicted of any new crime.

The court would consider factors including any mitigating circumstances at the time of the crime, evidence of rehabilitation, and whether relief from the burden of a criminal record would facilitate successful reintegration into society.

“The burden of a criminal record can make it impossible for young people to grow into productive members of society by creating barriers to housing, career and educational opportunities that are vital to preventing the cycle of recidivism,” Simotas said. “New York passed the Raise the Age Law because we recognized that teenagers have not yet developed the ability to fully comprehend the long-term consequences of their actions and make rational decisions in heated situations. People convicted of crimes in their youth deserve second chances, and this bill will offer a path for them to successfully reintegrate into their communities and build futures for themselves and their families without the stigma of a criminal record following them for the rest of their lives.”

Weprin’s Adoptee Rights Bill Passes after Decades-Long Struggle

Assemblymember David Weprin

Assemblyman David I. Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows, Richmond Hill)  saw his Clean Bill of Adoptee Rights, A5494/S3419, pass the Assembly after a decade’s long push by advocates and lawmakers and now heads to the Governor for a signature.

State Sen. Velmanette Montgomery (D-Brooklyn), who sponsored it in the Senate also saw it pass the Upper Chamber.

The measure establishes the right of adoptees to receive a certified copy of their birth certificate upon reaching the age of 18. Weprin has sponsored the bill since 2011 during his earliest days in the Assembly. The bill was sponsored by 2/3 of the Assembly Chamber and passed by a vote of 126 to 2.

The legislation restores important civil rights to adult adoptees such as their right to access information that non-adopted persons have a legal right to obtain. In New York State, an adoptee cannot access his or her original birth certificate unless the adoptee goes through a judicial proceeding which does not guarantee that access will be granted. Some adoptees have spent thousands of dollars in genetic testing and private investigators to access information that should be available as of right.

“There is no reason why adoptees should be denied the right to learn about their family histories, medical histories, and personal backgrounds. Today, the Clean Bill of Adoptee Rights will right this historical wrong and finally restore important civil rights to many New Yorkers,” said Weprin. “I applaud my Assembly and Senate colleagues for passing this momentous bill that will change the lives of adopted individuals and I thank the many adoptee advocacy groups who worked to get this bill to the floor. I urge the Governor to sign this legislation and ensure that adoptees are treated equally under the law.”

Nolan, Rosenthal Back Katz For DA

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan
Assembly Member Daniel Rosenthal

Queens Assemblymembers Cathy Nolan and Dan Rosenthal, who represent large portions of Western and Central Queens announced their endorsement of Queens Borough President Melinda Katz on Friday in the race for District Attorney.

Their support is another sign that Katz’s campaign has significant momentum in the final days of the campaign, as she continues to earn key endorsements from leaders throughout Queens.

“Hate crimes in our communities are on the rise, and we need a District Attorney we can count on to ensure that these crimes are fully investigated, prosecuted, and eradicated. The candidate I trust most to do that is Melinda Katz. The deep relationships and trust she’s built up in every neighborhood of the Borough will ensure that the DA’s office can effectively respond to the needs of the diverse communities of Queens. I’m confident that she will be an excellent District Attorney dedicated to making our criminal justice system more equitable and she has my full endorsement,” said Rosenthal.

“This is a pivotal moment for our Borough and we need someone with Melinda’s legal expertise and track record of public service in the DA’s office. She has spent her life fighting for families in Queens and has laid out a detailed agenda to reform the DA’s office from top to bottom. At every level of government that she’s served in, Melinda has taken on powerful interests and fought for progressive change. Her experience running a Borough-wide office and building trust throughout Queens will make her an excellent District Attorney and she has my strong support,” said Nolan.

Sanders Lauds MWBE Extension

State Sen. James Sanders Jr.

State Sen. James Sanders Jr. (D-Rochdale Village, Far Rockaway), joined by his Senate colleagues earlier this week, voted to extend Article 15-A until 2024. Article 15-A of the Executive Law, signed into law on July 19, 1988, authorized the creation of an Office of Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises (MWBE). This law was created to promote employment and participation in state contracts for minorities and women.

“This is a huge win for MWBE,” said Sanders, Chairman of the Senate Task Force on MWBE. “We are continuing to move in a direction where all minorities and women will have access to resources they were barred from before.”

The current law expired at the end of this year and needed to be reauthorized before the completion of the 2019 legislative session. The MWBE program is important because for far too long, minorities and women have been negatively impacted by an economic system built to exclude them. This updated bill is designed to even the playing field where access to state contracts are concerned.

Before the bill went to a vote, Sanders spent months working closely with MWBEs to craft legislation that would advance their goals. Additionally, he collaborated with the MWBE Taskforce to ensure that MWBEs would see these goals would be met.

The biggest wins MWBE saw in the updated bill are: (1) a shortened certification process from 60 to 45 days, (2) increase of personal net worth from $3.5 million to $15 million, (3) increase in discretionary buying threshold, and (4) agency publication of waivers.