Queens Lawmakers On The Move Nov. 25, 2019

Queens County City Council News

Schumer Says Let Kids Fly With Their Parents

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) yesterday decried airlines that continue to lack policy assuring kids under the age of 13 sit with their parents—not rows away—on flights. 

Schumer noted recent complaints by parents to the federal Department of Transportation (DOT) obtained by Consumer Reports and revealed that in 2016, a law was passed to help fix this entire problem.

“While complaints by parents seated rows away from their own kids on flights continue to climb, what’s flying under the radar is the fact that the feds were supposed to fix this problem in 2016 via a law now on the books, but they haven’t, and they should,” said Schumer.

Schumer detailed the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016, which contained a directive to the Secretary of Transportation to get a handle on this issue with the goal of solving it.

“The friendly skies deserve a family-friendly cabin, and it is clear-as-day that for many parents aboard flights, the real turbulence is the family seating policy which has become a game of musical chairs that is neither fun nor fair. It’s either costing parents more or delivering a giant headache that includes pleading with strangers to swap seats,” Schumer added.

Braunstein Announces Halloween Essay & Drawing Contest Winners

Assembly Member Edward Braunstein

Assemblyman Edward C. Braunstein (D-Bayside) on Friday announced the winners of his Halloween Essay & Drawing Contest for students in grades two through five. They are:

  • 2nd Grade Grand Prize award: Lucia Jin, who attends P.S. 209: The Clearview Gardens School in Whitestone.
  • 3rd Grade Grand Prize award: Melody Chen, who attends P.S. 209: The Clearview Gardens School in Whitestone.
  • 4th Grade Grand Prize award: Juan Andres Montezuma, who attends P.S. 209: The Clearview Gardens School in Whitestone.
  • 5th Grade Grand Prize award: Yuanpu Wang, who attends PS 94: David D. Porter School in Little Neck.

“Congratulations to all of the winners. Nearly 200 students from schools throughout Queens participated in my office’s Halloween Essay & Drawing Contest and I was extremely impressed with their outstanding artistic and creative entries,” said Braunstein.

All winners received a gift card and all participants received a New York State Assembly Certificate of Merit.

Gillibrand Joins Klobuchar To Call For More Election Security Funding

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) on Friday announced she joined U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and 37 other Senators in calling for more funding to protect election security.

In a letter, the Senators urged House and Senate Appropriations Committees to increase funding for election security grants and the Election Assistance Commission (EAC). The EAC is an independent and bipartisan commission that ensures elections across the country are accessible, secure, and accurate. 

Established by the Help America Vote Act, the EAC assists state and local election officials, sets voting standards, certifies voting equipment, and conducts the country’s most comprehensive election survey, the Election Administration and Voting Survey. 

The Senators’ letter comes as the nation prepares for the next election cycle amid attempts of election hacking by foreign governments. In addition, earlier this week, the EAC released a troubling report that revealed its ongoing funding issues and vacancies in two senior leadership positions.

“Today, more than at any other time in our nation’s history, election officials face unique challenges that require federal support. As we approach the 2020 elections, we must ensure that they have the resources they need to combat foreign interference and ensure that every American has easy access to the ballot box,” Gillibrand, Klobuchar, and their colleagues wrote. “It is vital to ensure that the EAC, the only federal agency charged with improving federal elections, has the funding it needs to be successful. As you finalize appropriations for FY2020, we urge you to fund the EAC at the House level and ensure that there are strong strings attached to the election security grants.”

Addabbo To Focus On Vet Suicide Rate In Upcoming Legislative Session

State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr.

State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth, parts of South Ozone Park, Ridgewood, Woodside, The Rockaways) on Friday vowed in the upcoming 2020 legislative session up in Albany to work on helping veterans deal with mental health and other issues after returning from service, in an effort to reduce the military’s suicide rate.

Addabbo recently attended a NYS Senate public hearing in Rockland County on veteran’s mental health and well-being where the Senate Standing Committee on Mental Health and Development Disabilities heard testimony from medical professionals and institutions, veteran’s services agencies, and veterans themselves on the problems veterans and active military personnel face dealing with and accessing treatment for mental health issues.

According to a Veterans Administration study that was presented at the hearing, 22 veterans commit suicide every day, and according to the National Center for PTSD, more than 1 in 10 veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Many veterans also find it difficult to find work and housing after their service, leading to an increase in homelessness among veterans, which can negatively affect a veteran’s mental health.

During the testimony, Marianne Goodman, M.D., a psychiatrist and professor of psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, stated that many veterans do not seek Veterans Affairs (VA) care. They instead go to their primary care doctors, who may not even know their patient is a veteran. Without proper outreach to the veterans, many do not know of the services of which they are entitled.

Goodman also noted that through funding in the state budget, the New York State Psychiatric Association (NYSPA), Medical Society of the State of New York (MSSNY) and the New York Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW-NYS) have been able to grow the Veterans Mental Health Training Initiative. The Veterans Mental Health Training Initiative trains and educates the interdisciplinary team of primary care specialists and community mental health providers on veteran-specific mental health issues.

“The continued funding of these important programs is critical if our state is to continue its efforts to better assist our veterans when they return home,” Addabbo, a member of the Senate Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs Committee, said. “However, we can fund the best programs in the country, but if veterans do not know about them, they are useless. We need to do a better job of outreach to veterans to make them aware of the services they can access.”

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