Brooklyn Lawmakers On The Move Oct. 21, 2019

News Site Brooklyn

Brannan Proposes Free Eye Care For Low-Income Individuals

Justin Brannan
City Council Member Justin Brannan

City Councilman Justin Brannan (D-Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach, Bensonhurst) last week introduced legislation to provide free visual testing and glasses to low-income individuals. 

The bill would make these provisions for New Yorkers whose annual gross household income is within 250% of the federal poverty level. It is unclear at post time how this would differ from individuals and families on Medicaid, which does include yearly eye examinations and glasses.

But Brannan said his proposed program would be the first of its kind in the nation, and nearly 1.5 million New Yorkers could qualify.

“Ensuring that every New Yorker has the prescription eyeglasses they need is a simple and instant safeguard against poverty. In the greatest city in the world, no person should be too poor to see,” said Brannan.

“The evidence is clear that bad vision leads to poor performance at school and work. So if it goes untreated—which happens often among low-income communities that cannot afford vision care—it can have long-term consequences on a person’s income and quality of life. By making treatment more available, this bill could change all of that,” he added.

Having been introduced to the Council, the bill will now go to committee hearings before it can go to a vote on the Council floor.

Schumer Calls On Contaminated Baby Food Recipe For Disaster

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) yesterday demanded new federal action by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that would force the baby food industry to address the presence of heavy metals in their products and alleviate concerns raised by parents for the health and safety of their youngest and most vulnerable.

Schumer’s demands come on the heels of a just-out report detailing the presence of toxic metals in a wide variety of baby foods.

“When it comes to the first foods we feed our children, we rightfully expect those foods to be undeniably safe, nutritious and appropriately regulated. We do not expect to learn that those first foods might come with—even a chance—of lasting consequence that could sabotage the development of newborns,” said Schumer. “Simply put, when baby food ingredients across a variety of brands are called into question, it is the job and charge of the FDA to be the cop on the beat making sure serious questions are answered and appropriate guidelines enforced. Right now, that’s not entirely the case, and it’s a fact pattern that needs to change, because parents are demanding answers.”

Schumer demanded the FDA investigate the findings of the aforementioned independent, but credible, report sparking worry and urged the agency to propose regulations parents and others have been waiting on. Schumer said the FDA’s inability to even comment on the new report leaves many people concerned, and so in addition, he urged the agency to issue a public statement regarding the findings of the report.

Myrie Visits Job Fair Held In New York Correctional Facility

State Senator Zellnor Myrie
State Senator Zellnor Myrie

State Sen. Zellnor Y. Myrie (D-Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Gowanus, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, South Slope, Sunset Park) visited the Prison Job Fair at the Queensboro Correctional facility this month, which gathered 12 employers with 78 men who are incarcerated for the first job fair ever held within a correctional facility in New York.

The Cornell School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR) sponsored the event. Myrie is an alumnus of Cornell’s Law School and a former instructor at the Auburn Correctional Facility. The lawmaker worked tirelessly this spring to secure additional funding for re-entry services in the FY 2020 State Budget. The final budget agreement included $100,000 for re-entry services, some of which supported this month’s Prison Job Fair.

“We say that prisons are for rehabilitation, but more often than not, they offer no such thing,” said Myrie. “Rehabilitation should be part of every step of the justice system, and that’s what this job fair is about. This is an investment in people who have been incarcerated that will allow them to re-enter society successfully and be equipped to succeed.”

The job fair marked the first time employers were inside of a corrections facility conducting interviews and making job offers. It was launched as part of the Cornell School’s Criminal Justice and Employment Initiative. Since 2017, the program has trained hundreds of employers and incarcerated people across the state, helping them to overcome barriers to employment caused by incarceration. 

More information on the job fair and the experience of participants can be found in the Cornell Chronicle article here.

Parker, Ortiz See Veteran Mental Illness Bill Signed Into Law

Sen. Kevin Parker
Assembly Member Feliz Ortiz

State Sen. Kevin Parker (D-Flatbush, East Flatbush, Midwood, Ditmas Park, Kensington, Windsor Terrace, and Park Slope) and Assemblymember Felix Ortiz (D-Sunset Park, Red Hook) last week Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo sign their legislation (S.3200-A/A.2758-A) creating a public education initiative designed to eliminate stigma and misinformation about mental illness and substance use among service members, veterans and their families. 

Through their service, many military personnel are exposed to or have experienced trauma, putting them at high risk of triggering underlying conditions, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, substance use disorders or other mental health issues. According to the United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the high risk of triggering these conditions is complicated further by the pronounced stigma associated with mental illness within military communities.

This new law creates a public education initiative, coordinated by the NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services and the NYS Division of Veterans’ Services, to help these brave Americans who have laid their lives on the line in service to their country by addressing this stigma, recognizing the reality of the mental health needs of military veterans and providing information about how to access resources so military personnel and their families can find help and treatment.

“Our state has to do more to support the brave men and women who protect us at home and abroad. This new law will ensure that we keep our veterans and their families informed about the mental health services that are available to them, while educating the public to effectively stomp out the stigma associated with mental illness. I applaud Governor Cuomo and my colleagues in the Legislature for supporting my legislation, and joining me in making veterans mental health a priority in the State of New York,” said Parker.

“Left untreated, combat-related mental health issues harm the lives of veterans and their families. Untreated combat-related mental health issues can develop through substance abuse and even suicide. Our brave American veterans have served our country well. This law addresses the mental health needs of military veterans so they will no longer continue to suffer,” said Ortiz.