Queens Lawmakers On The Move March 2, 2020

Queens County City Council News

Schumer Pushes In-The-Works Coronavirus Vaccine Free For Seniors

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer

U. S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) announced yesterday a new push to make the now-in-the-works coronavirus vaccination fully covered by Medicare so seniors who want it and need it the most do not have to choose between shelling out and going without. 

Schumer explained that immunization coverage varies by vaccine under current Medicare rules as he detailed plans to add a special provision into the coronavirus funding deal that ensures those most susceptible—seniors—can get the vaccine for free. Schumer said this effort can—and should—garner bipartisan support as he explained his plan and detailed how he’ll work to add it to the final deal.

“The novel Coronavirus shows us how critical is to make vaccines available to the most susceptible groups, and in the case of the coronavirus, that appears to be seniors,” said Schumer. “As the race for a safe, effective and affordable vaccine nears the finish line, it is crucial to put the plans in place that guarantee seniors will be able to get it and afford it. My plan to have Medicare fully cover the cost of the vaccine will mean no senior will be forced to make the choice between shelling out and going without.”

Bronx BP Endorses Richards For Queens BP

City Council Member Donovan Richards

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. yesterday announced his endorsement of City Council Member Donovan Richards (D-Arverne, Brookville, Edgemere, Far Rockaway, Laurelton, Rosedale, Springfield Gardens) campaign for Queens Borough President.

“I have been borough president for more than ten years, so I know what the job takes. On the issues we care about: transportation, creating opportunities for our youth and affordable housing, with Donovan Richards we have a unique opportunity to elect the best of our young leadership. Throughout his career, Donovan Richards has worked assiduously to improve the lives of everyday New Yorkers, and I know he will continue those efforts as Queens Borough President. Donovan Richards will bring a new voice to both the borough of Queens and our City, and I am proud to support his candidacy,” said Diaz Jr.

“Since he was elected, I’ve watched the great work that Ruben Diaz Jr. has done as Bronx Borough President by attracting more jobs and building more affordable housing. His vision for the borough president’s office is one that I hope to emulate here in Queens. We have the opportunity to improve the life of Queens residents and make the borough president’s office work for them. I thank him for his endorsement and hope to achieve similar victories as borough president,” said Richards.

Meng Calls Out Congressional Colleagues To Speak Truth To Power About Coronavirus

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), First Vice-Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), spoke at a CAPAC press conference on Capitol Hill Friday urging other congressional members to help stop the spread of xenophobia and misinformation related to the coronavirus by only sharing confirmed and verifiable information about the illness. 

This includes information on how the virus spreads, and how Americans should protect themselves

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, there has been a surge in reports of discrimination and violent attacks against Asian Americans across the country. Many of these attacks have been instigated and fueled by misinformation, including misconceptions that AAPIs are more likely to carry and spread the virus, or conspiracy theories that China created the coronavirus in a lab.

“The coronavirus is a menace to public health, and we must provide clear facts to ensure that Americans have the truth about the virus,” said Meng. “I’m urging my congressional colleagues to speak truth to power and refrain from dabbling in conspiracies and rumors. No one wins when that happens, and it only hurts innocent individuals like Asian Americans simply because of their ethnicity. My district in Queens has one of the largest Asian American populations in the nation, and I continue to hear about Asian-owned businesses being impacted because people are afraid to visit these establishments. Congress must demonstrate resolute leadership and the first step is to convey facts, not misinformation.”

The press conference comes after CAPAC sent a letter this week to all members of congress about this issue.

Addabbo Votes To Support Volunteer Firefighters & Ambulance Workers

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) recently voted with his Senate colleagues to approve legislation (S.3057) which would provide more timely death benefits for the surviving beneficiaries of volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers who die in the line of duty.

“When voting in favor of this bill, I thought of the brave and dedicated volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers in my district, who provide extraordinary services to our communities in our times of greatest need,” said Addabbo, a co-sponsor of the legislation. “When these brave men and women give their lives in volunteer service to others, we have an obligation to honor their memories by aiding their loved ones at a time of grievous loss. This bill would help to ensure that surviving beneficiaries of these first responders do not have to wait for extended periods of time to receive the death benefits their loved ones wanted to provide for them.”

Specifically, the measure would require that death benefits provided to the surviving beneficiary of a volunteer firefighter or ambulance worker who died in the line of duty be paid within 90 days of the filing of the benefits application. 

Setting this timeline will allow for adequate investigations into the facts of the volunteer’s injury or death and help to ensure that claims are processed more expeditiously, according to Addabbo.

Having passed the State Senate, the bill is now under review by the Assembly Standing Committee on Local Governments.

Comptroller Stringer Calls on DOE to Ensure Children Are Protected

Comptroller Scott Stringer

City Comptroller Scott Stringer last week sent a letter to the Department of Education (DOE) calling on them to reform procurement procedures that risk children’s health and safety in the wake of a DOE school bus tragically killing a 10-year-old girl.

“When it comes to the education of our children, every penny counts. The DOE’s careless approach to managing how our children get to and from school is an outrage, plain and simple,” said Stringer. “Parents deserve transparency, accountability, and absolute confidence in the buses that transport our children, but the DOE’s rubber-stamp attitude toward procurement jeopardizes our tax dollars and does a massive disservice to our students. The City’s ability to deliver the education students deserve is compromised when precious dollars are doled out to vendors whose performance has not been properly reviewed. I’m calling on DOE to explain its failures and finally reform its contracting policies. New Yorkers are tired of the excuses—our children deserve far better.”

The Comptroller demanded answers about the DOE’s persistent refusal to use rigorous and regular performance evaluations to ensure taxpayers are getting the services they pay for and that safety procedures are followed.