Queens Lawmakers On The Move Jan. 15, 2020

Queens County City Council News

Meng Announces “Adopt-A-State” AAPI Initiative

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) chair of ASPIRE, the political arm of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Members of Congress, announced this week the launching of “Adopt-A-State,” a new initiative in which AAPI Members of Congress will select a state, and engage the AAPI electorate there to help Democrats up and down the ballot win in the 2020 elections.

These AAPI lawmakers will travel to the states they adopt, and visit with the local AAPI communities where they plan to make the case for Democrats, and discuss the importance of AAPIs voting for Democratic candidates.

ASPIRE members will adopt states with substantial and growing AAPI populations. They plan to engage AAPI voters through party-building events, roundtables with local stakeholders, digital efforts and more.

“Asian American and Pacific Islanders make up more than two percent of the eligible voting population in several swing states and states with early primaries and caucuses, and turning out AAPI voters will be crucial to Democratic victories in 2020,” said Meng. “ASPIRE looks forward to partnering with state parties, grassroots organizations and local activists to make ‘Adopt-A-State’ a success, and I’m proud of this critical surrogate outreach investment that we’ll be making in AAPI communities across the nation.”

Gillibrand Announces Legislation To Expand Child Care Services For Student Parents

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) yesterday announced legislation that would help expand access to high-quality child care services at no cost to student parents enrolled in community colleges and minority-serving institutions (MSIs). 

The proposed measure comes after a report revealed that one in five college students are raising a child under the age of five while in school, and that many of these parents have trouble finding affordable and high-quality child care. 

The Preparing and Resourcing Our Student Parents and Early Childhood Teachers Act (PROSPECT Act), would help address this by funding $9 billion in new grant programs to provide high-quality infant and toddler care at no cost to low-income parents attending community colleges and MSIs.

“Parents shouldn’t have to choose between getting a college degree and affording child care. However, many student parents have trouble finding and affording high-quality child care services, particularly for infants and toddlers,” said Gillibrand. 

Gianaris To Introduce Legislation Banning Campaign Spending From Multinational Corporations

Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris

Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside and parts of Woodside, Maspeth, Ridgewood, Woodhaven) yesterday announced new legislation, the Democracy Preservation Act, which would effectively ban campaign spending by major multinational corporations. 

The law is modeled after a Seattle ordinance passed after e-commerce giant Amazon spent over $1.5 million in independent expenditures on City Council elections in that city. St. Petersburg has also enacted a similar law.

“Unlimited corporate expenditures have a pernicious effect on our elections and the Democracy Preservation Act will make substantial inroads in fighting the influence of big corporations,” said Gianaris. “Enactment of this bill would ensure that New York’s elections are decided by its people, not by big corporations.”

The Democracy Preservation Act prohibits companies with more than 1% stake owned by a single foreign national or more than 5% owned by foreign nationals cumulatively from making political contributions in New York’s state and local campaigns. It would additionally prohibit such an entity from funding independent expenditures or political action committees, as well.

Weprin Promotes Adoptee Rights Legislation

Assemblymember David Weprin

Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows, Richmond Hill) yesterday joined several state lawmakers, adult adopted individuals, birth parents & adoptee rights advocates to announce the first day of access for adult adoptees seeking a copy of their original birth certificate. 

Assembled legislators also presented a pen certificate, a symbolic document commemorating the enactment of legislation, to a number of supporters of the legislation.

The Clean Bill of Adoptee Rights, A5494 Weprin / S3419 Montgomery, was signed by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on November 14, 2019. 

The legislation, which passed both houses of the legislature in 2019 after a decades-long push by advocates and lawmakers, establishes the right of adoptees to receive a certified copy of their birth certificate upon reaching the age of 18.

Constantinides Calls on MTA to Fix Bus Redesign Shortfalls

City Council Member Costa Constantinides

City Council Member Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria, parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights) yesterday called on better coordination between the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) to revamp elements of the Queens Bus Network Redesign draft plan. 

The proposal, which is currently collecting feedback, has left many western Queens residents worried by suggested increased wait times or the elimination of lines altogether. 

“Every extra minute we add to our existing bus wait times is another person we incentivize to drive or call an Uber,” said Constantinides. “While I’m glad the MTA is doing a once-in-a-century study of our entire borough’s bus system, there are several proposals that will leave western Queens residents stranded at bus stops with longer wait times. This should have been a community-driven planning process that considered busways or other technology, but I hope the MTA better engages the community in the months ahead.” 

Constantinides raised his concerns about the plan in a Jan. 9 letter DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and New York City Transit President Andy Byford. Particularly at issue is the proposed elimination of the Q18, which runs from western Astoria to Maspeth. 

The draft plan would follow a similar path under the QT80 moniker, but inflate weekday wait times from eight minutes to 20 minutes. Residents of Jackson Heights, Bayside, and other dense neighborhoods face similar elimination or time changes under if the current proposal goes through. The Council Member urged for a robust public outreach campaign for the draft plan, which was introduced right before the New Year’s holiday and only runs through April. 

Absent from the draft plan was a consideration for “busways,” something the Council Member mentioned in his Jan. 9 letter. He pointed to the success of the 14th Street “Busway,” which has seen a 25- to 30-percent increase in ridership since the major Manhattan artery banned cars.