Queens Lawmakers On The Move June 28, 2019

Queens County City Council News

Katz Lauds U.S. Supreme Court Decision on 2020 Census Citizenship Question

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz lauded yesterday’s U.S. Supreme Court Decision to block the Trump administration from adding a question on citizenship to the 2020 census for the time being.

“Queens maintains the citizenship question is discriminatory, especially as it was designed to weaponize the Census in order to dilute resources, representation and minority voting power,” said Katz. “While the fight to ensure a fair count is far from over, the Supreme Court’s decision today to temporarily block this question is incredibly encouraging. There is still much work to be done to ensure that every Queens resident is counted accurately in the 2020 Census, because an undercount is something Queens simply cannot afford.”

The county of Queens, with its 2.35 million residents, is known as the most diverse county in the nation.

The Census determines the borough’s representation in the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as how much federal funding Queens receives for schools, infrastructure, health services and more.

Meng Urges Probe Following Supreme Court’s Census Citizenship Question

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) sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr yesterday urging him to investigate Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for possible crimes related to making false statements with respect to documents required by law to be submitted to Congress.

Meng sent the letter following today’s Supreme Court decision on the census citizenship question where Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that Secretary Ross’ explanation for including the question was “contrived.”

“Secretary Ross lied to me during a House hearing last year when I asked him if he had spoken with anyone in the White House about adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census and now the Supreme Court recognizes that he included the question under false pretenses,” said Meng. 

“After Secretary Ross falsely told me that he was not aware of any discussions, court documents later revealed that he had actually spoken with then Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, contradicting his statement to me. The Secretary must be held accountable for his blatant dishonesty and deception and must face the consequences for his actions. High ranking government officials cannot be allowed to get away with lying. Attorney General Barr must investigate at once,” she added.

Meng’s request to Barr is her second call for the Department of Justice to investigate Ross. Last October, she sent a letter to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions asking him to launch a probe into the Secretary. But the Congresswoman never heard back from the Justice Department.

CM Miller Proposed Ban On “Ghost Guns” Gains Momentum 

Councilmember I. Daneek Miller

Council Members I. Daneek Miller (D-Cambria Heights, Hollis, Jamaica, St. Albans, Queens Village, and Springfield Gardens) and Helen Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) legislation to ban the possession of “Ghost Guns” gained momentum for passage yesterday following the council’s Public Safety hearing of the measure.

“Ghost Guns” are unfinished lower gun frames or receivers, which are used to create untraceable firearms and require NYPD reporting on the seizure of such guns.

Ghost guns and 3-D printed guns are especially popular among individuals who are unable to purchase guns legally because they have no serial numbers, which makes them virtually untraceable by law enforcement and allows criminals to bypass background checks and licensing laws.

Miller’s bill, Int 1548, will require quarterly reporting on the number of ghost guns and 3-D firearms, or related parts, seized by the NYPD during arrests. Currently, the Department reports on only three types of firearms: pistols, rifles, and shotguns.

“New York is a national leader in gun-violence prevention, and the City Council has historically been at the forefront of its efforts to stem the use of deadly firearms,” said Miller. “No one should possess Do-it-Yourself capability to make or assemble unregulated, unregistered, and untraceable guns. As Congress and the Legislature debate this issue, we are acting forcefully to give law enforcement the tools necessary to arrest ghost-gun buyers and suppliers, confiscate these weapons of war, and accurately assess the availability of ghost-guns on our streets before tragedy strikes.”

Meeks Includes Amendment to Fund Small Dollar Loan Program

U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks

U.S. Rep. Gregory W. Meeks (D-Jamaica, Laurelton, Rosedale, Cambria Heights, Saint Albans, Springfield Gardens, The Rockaways, JFK  Airport), Chair of the Consumer Protection & Financial Institutions Subcommittee, yesterday announced he included $10 million for a small dollar loan program as an amendment in the Financial Services and General Government appropriation:

“This program, which is administered by the US Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund), will go a long way towards helping out individuals and families living paycheck to paycheck. Four in 10 Americans don’t have the savings to cover an unexpected $400 expense, forcing many to turn to high-interest small-dollar loan products like payday lending,” said Meeks.

“Community Development Financial Institutions can provide alternatives to these high-interest, small dollar loans.  Section 1206 of Dodd-Frank authorized the CDFI Fund to provide financial assistance for the creation of loan loss reserves to support small-dollar loan offerings among CDFIs, including certified banks and credit unions. 

“The program has the potential to help individuals build credit, access affordable capital and enter the mainstream financial system.  With the passage of my amendment, the CDFI Fund small-dollar loans program will be funded for the first time since its authorization in Dodd-Frank, almost a decade ago, and will give hard-working Americans access to more affordable, safer, and more financially sustainable small-dollar loan products.”

Gillibrand Announces Nuclear Regulatory Commission To Host Public Meeting At Indian Point

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) yesterday announced that following her push, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will host a public meeting in Westchester on the decommissioning of Indian Point Energy Center. 

The three-unit nuclear power plant station sits on the east bank of the Hudson River, about 36 miles north of Midtown Manhattan, and with the plant scheduled to shut down beginning next year, local stakeholders have raised concerns about the effects this process will have on the surrounding communities and site workers, the storage and transportation of spent fuel, and the long-term remediation of the site. 

Earlier this year, Gillibrand urged the NRC to hold a public meeting in Westchester to ensure New Yorkers’ concerns are heard.  

“New Yorkers deserves full transparency and input as Indian Point begins the process of shutting down, which is why I pushed for a public meeting. Indian Point’s close proximity to heavily populated cities, including New York City, raises unique considerations that must be carefully addressed, and I’m glad that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has taken the important step of holding a public meeting in Westchester before this process begins,” said Gillibrand. 

“I’m hopeful this meeting will help to ensure a productive relationship between the residents of Westchester County and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the years-long decommissioning process, and I will stand ready to provide any support necessary to ensure the safest and best possible outcome for the local communities affected by the closure of Indian Point,” she added.

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