Queens Lawmakers On The Move Oct. 10, 2019

Queens County City Council News

Meeks Demands Bank Regulators Strengthen Community Reinvestment Act

U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks

U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica, Laurelton, Rosedale, Cambria Heights, Saint Albans, Springfield Gardens, The Rockaways, JFK Airport), Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions, and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), ranking member of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, led a group of 27 Congressional members in demanding bank regulators strengthen the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act (CRA).

The CRA is a United States federal law designed to encourage commercial banks and savings associations to help meet the needs of borrowers in all segments of their communities, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods.

Meeks and the Congressional members sent a letter to the heads of the Federal Reserve, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)  demanding that the three banking agencies not issue a proposed rule unless it has the support of the community development and civil rights groups that represent the communities the CRA was designed to serve.

“Policies that restrict access to credit and banking, such as those that result in redlining, have perpetuated a long legacy of discrimination and disinvestment in America, and held back impoverished minority communities,” wrote the members. “Given this history, any changes to the CRA must hold lenders accountable for meeting the local credit and investment needs of LMI communities where the lender has branches or other facilities while appropriately considering changes in our banking system.”

Braunstein, Liu’s Bill Protecting EMT Patient Privacy Signed Into Law

Assembly Member Edward Braunstein
State Sen. John Liu

Assemblyman Edward Braunstein (D-Auburndale, Bay Terrace, Bayside, Bayside Hills, Broadway-Flushing, Douglaston, Floral Park, Glen Oaks, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, North Shore Towers, Oakland Gardens, Whitestone) and State Sen. John Liu (D-Flushing, College Point, Whitestone, Bayside, Douglaston-Little Neck, parts of Hollis, Bellerose) lauded Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this week for signing into law their legislation prohibiting ambulance and first response service providers from disclosing or selling private patient information to third parties for marketing purposes. 

Under prior law, emergency response providers could sell information that identifies an individual patient such as addresses and phone numbers, prescriptions and medical history. The new law prohibits the disclosure of such information to third parties, except to healthcare providers, the patient’s insurer and parties acting under appropriate legal authority.         

“I first introduced this legislation in 2014 after reports surfaced that some emergency service providers in New York State may have been selling patient protected health information (PHI) for fundraising and marketing purposes. Patients have a right to privacy and their medical information should never be sold to pharmaceutical companies, insurers, nursing homes, or other businesses,” said Braunstein.

“We live in a world where we have to be concerned with how our data is being bought and used every day. Under no circumstances, when someone is in the middle of a life-threatening crisis, should they have to worry about their information being sold for any reason. This bill provides peace of mind to New Yorkers by protecting the privacy of those who have suffered enough already,” said Liu.

Weprin’s NYPD Hearing Aid Bill Signed Into Law

Assembly Member David Weprin

Assemblymember David I. Weprin (D-Richmond Hill, Fresh Meadows) last Friday saw Gov. Andrew Cuomo sign into law his legislation, A4000, preventing the New York City Police Department (NYPD) from forcing its members who require hearing assistance devices to retire.

The measure amends the administrative code of the city of New York to exclude members of the police force who use hearing aids from the definition of disabled and prevents NYPD personnel who can perform their duties from unjustly being terminated.

The legislation was initially inspired by Deputy Inspector Dan Carione, who was forced into retirement after the NYPD began implementing a ban on hearing aids for existing officers in 2009. Police members often work in noisy environments where gunshots, construction, and subway sounds can cause hearing loss over time. The ban on hearing devices put officers and the public at risk by discouraging members of the force from disclosing their hearing abilities and incentivizing them to remove devices while on duty to keep their jobs. 

“No member of the NYPD should be forced to retire because of a hearing issue that can be resolved with a simple and readily available device. As former Chair of the Assembly Task Force on People with Disabilities, I stand with hearing-impaired officers who bravely want to continue to serve their city,” said Weprin.”

Gianaris Gets Perfect Score Fron Environmental Advocates

State Sen. Michael Gianaris

State Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside and parts of Woodside, Maspeth, Ridgewood, Woodhaven) was recognized this week by the Environmental Advocates of New York with a perfect score on their annual report card. 

The perfect score comes as Gianaris has championed several pieces of legislation including to mandate testing of lead in school and park water supplies and he supports bills to improve water, air, and soil quality for all New Yorkers. 

With Gianaris serving as Deputy Majority Leader, the Senate enacted the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) to prevent further climate change. The CLCPA reduces statewide greenhouse gas emissions, improves resiliency efforts, ensures local job creation through energy transition, and promotes environmental justice by controlling the regressive impacts of climate change mitigation.

“Protecting our environment is crucial to ensure a livable planet for future generations,” said Gianaris. “I am pleased to be recognized by the League of Conservation Voters for my achievements during the historic 2019 legislative session.”

De Blasio Files Amicus Brief In Support of DREAMERS

Mayor BIll de Blasio

The Mayor Bill de Blasio administration this week announced that it has joined cities, counties, and other municipalities across the country in the filing of an amicus brief supporting roughly 700,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients nationwide, including nearly 30,000 residing in the city. 

The brief comes as the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the DACA program on November 12.

The matter went to the Supreme Court following the Trump’s Administration’s decision to terminate DACA in Sept. 2017. Following that decision, multiple courts have kept renewals ongoing for current DACA recipients, but Dreamers have still been forced to live court case to court case, and now the Supreme Court is expected to render their final decision as soon as January 2020.

“Dreamers are our friends and neighbors – and New Yorkers always have each other’s backs,” said de Blasio. “We are joining jurisdictions around the country to stand up to the President’s hateful and misguided policies. These young people must be allowed to stay in the only homes they have ever known.”

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