Queens Lawmakers On The Move Feb. 4, 2020

Queens County City Council News

Meeks Calls On NCUA to Not Sell Taxi Medallion Debt

U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks

U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica, Laurelton, Rosedale, Cambria Heights, Saint Albans, Springfield Gardens, The Rockaways, JFK Airport) yesterday led a bipartisan letter with the entire New York City Congressional delegation and Members of the Long Island Congressional delegation to the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), calling on the regulator to not sell taxi medallion debt the agency has acquired. 

Taxi Medallion loans have come under intense scrutiny for being over-valued debt traps, pushing taxi drivers to the brink of financial ruin, bankruptcy and, in some cases, suicide. Though both the City, State and the Congressional delegation are taking steps to enact financial relief for indebted medallion owners, reports that the NCUA intends to sell its medallion loan portfolio risks exposing them to predatory debt collection practices instead of fairer solutions.

The delegation recently joined as co-sponsors with Meeks to introduce the legislation, H.R.5617 – Taxi Medallion Loan Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2020, which would provide tax relief for medallion owners with loan forgiveness.

Besides Meeks, the letter’s signatories include Congressmembers Jose E. Serrano, Nydia M. Velazquez, Carolyn B. Maloney, Jerrold Nadler, Eliot Engel, Peter T. King, Yvette D. Clarke, Hakeem S. Jeffries, Grace Meng, Kathleen Rice, Adriano Espaillat, Thomas R. Suozzi, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Max Rose.

Kim Shares Long-Term Vision of Inclusive Value Ledger

Assemblymember Ron Kim

Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Whitestone, Flushing, College Point, Murray Hill) on Friday appeared at the Government Blockchain Association conference on “The Future of Money, Governance, and the Law”, where he presented his future vision of the Inclusive Value Ledger.

“I believe we can shift public benefits to a blockchain system and help usher in a decentralized future,” said Kim. “Currently, our benefits are rigid and bureaucratic, and often do not reach the vulnerable populations we want to help.”

Kim focused his remarks on the government’s inability to assist a senior citizen in his district who desperately needed support and tried to apply for benefits, but due to his lack of proof of residence and identity, he could not receive any help.

“The Inclusive Value Ledger is the first step towards a 100% decentralized system, where our benefits could be liquid, portable and fluid on a blockchain ledger system. For now, a ‘public venmo’ managed by the state government will put us in the right direction, but once we transition benefits to a transparent, accessible blockchain there will be endless future possibilities,” Kim said.

Gianaris Announces Legislation Banning Animal Sales In Pet Stores

Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside and parts of Woodside, Maspeth, Ridgewood, Woodhaven) yesterday announced his legislation (S.4234-A) to prohibit sales of dogs, cats, and rabbits in retail pet stores has passed the Domestic Animal Welfare committee.

“With so many good animals in need of rescue, there is no need for puppy mills that abuse animals to supply pet stores. Our four-legged companions should be treated with respect, not like commodities,” said Gianaris. “I am pleased this important legislation moved out of committee and continues to build momentum with many of my Senate colleagues.”

Pet breeders and stores are loosely regulated under the Animal Welfare Act by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Recent investigations revealed, however, that under the Trump administration, USDA inspectors have been less aggressive in enforcing these regulations. In addition, the USDA is issuing fewer serious violations that would ordinarily trigger swift follow-up by the agency.

According to the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, the state agency tasked with regulating pet dealers, there are approximately 80 pet stores registered throughout the state.

Gianaris is a leader on animal welfare issues in the Senate, passing the nation’s first-ever statewide ban on cat declawing. Additionally, he leads the fight to prevent retail pet stores from selling animals from puppy mills and instead promote pet adoption.

Meng to Bring LaGuardia Airport Security Worker To State of the Union

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), In an effort to stand with working men and women and their fight for improved protections such as health care, tonight will bring Abdul Quddus Chaudhry of Flushing as her guest to President Donald Trumps’ State of the Union Address in Washington’s Capital Building.

Chaudhry is a security officer at LaGuardia Airport and member of the 32BJ SEIU union.

“Bringing Abdul as my guest shines a light on the important role that our labor force plays in communities throughout Queens and across the nation, and it brings attention to their fight for improving workers’ rights, including affordable health benefits and safe working conditions,” said Meng. 

“Working men and women are the backbone of our country and help America prosper. They and their families deserve access to affordable and quality health care, and I stand in solidarity with New York area airport workers as they struggle to secure these vital benefits. It is an honor to have Abdul join me for the President’s speech and I thank him for helping me highlight the important needs of our workforce,” she added.

Queens Borough Cabinet To Get Briefings On Hate Crimes, Proposed Medicaid Cuts

Acting Borough President Sharon Lee, and Queens Borough Cabinet, which she chairs today will be briefed by the NYPD Hate Crime Task Force on the latest efforts to combat the recent rise in hate crimes in the city.

After the presentation, the board will hear from the city’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on the State’s proposed Medicaid cuts and its anticipated impact on the City’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget.

The Cabinet will also hear from the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) regarding Local Law 28 of 2019 — which established a temporary program for the resolution of outstanding judgments resulting from accessory sign (awning) violations — and the work of its Office of Community Engagement.

The meeting is slated for 9:30 a.m., today, Feb. 4 at Queens Borough Hall, 120-55 Queens Boulevard in Kew Gardens.