Queens Lawmakers on the Move March 10, 2020

Queens County City Council News

Meng Legislation To Help Korean family Unification

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) this week saw her bipartisan legislation seeking to reunite Korean American families with loved ones in North Korea pass the full U.S. House of Representatives. 

Meng’s bill, the Divided Families Reunification Act (H.R. 1771), would require the U.S. Secretary of State, or a designee of the Secretary, to consult with South Korean officials on potential family reunion opportunities for American families and their relatives in North Korea. 

It would also require the U.S. Special Envoy on North Korean Human Rights Issues to consult biannually with representatives of Americans who have family members in North Korea about its efforts to support family reunions, and to inform Congress of opportunities to utilize video conference technology to encourage virtual reunions.

Thousands of Korean Americans have been separated from their relatives in North Korea since the Korean War. Since 2000, South Korea and North Korea have held over 20 family reunions; however, there has not been an official channel for Korean Americans to be included.

“I thank my colleagues in the House for supporting this important legislation and I’m pleased that the divided families issue is finally being addressed by Congress,” said Meng. “The separation of family members after the division of the Korean Peninsula has been heartbreaking, and continues to pain thousands of Korean Americans all these years later, particularly elderly individuals for whom any chance of a reunion with loved ones grows less likely each day. The Senate must immediately pass my bill so that we can give them hope before it’s too late. I have met with some of these Korean American divided families, and my heart aches for them. While the Korean War is sometimes known as the ‘Forgotten War,’ we must let these divided families know their pain and heartache will never be forgotten.”

A Senate version of Meng’s bill, the Korean War Divided Families Reunification Act (S.3395), was introduced in the Senate last week by U.S. Senators Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska).

Addabbo on Coronavirus: Be Prepared Not Scared

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) issued a statement that as the coronavirus has continued to spread in the state, he wants to ensure that the New York City school system is prepared to protect the health of students and faculty in the event of a larger outbreak.

Addabbo, a member of the Senate Education Committee, says that there are certain measures that all schools can take to educate their students on this virus and how to prevent it. According to the Senator, who continues to be briefed on a local, city, state and federal level, the most recent data show that the Coronavirus can stay on surfaces – such as metal, glass or plastic – for as long as nine days. Coupled with an incubation period of up to 14 days, teachers and students alike must be consistent with protective hygienic measures and habits.

“I want to urge the NYC Department of Education and our private school system to take precautions against the spreading of the Coronavirus,” Addabbo said. “If a student or teacher is feeling ill, they should not come to school and risk infecting others. Instead, they should go to their doctor for a proper diagnosis and return to school only when feeling back to normal. It is our responsibility to take this health crisis seriously and do all that we can to prevent its spread.”

Addabbo said the main thing teachers should do is discuss the importance of students washing their hands with soap and water and to cover their coughs and sneezes in their elbow or into a tissue, as this is the best way to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. Teachers should also be disinfecting all devices and equipment used by students, especially shared equipment like calculators, musical instruments, whiteboards, markers, gym equipment, mats and other surfaces after every period, he said.

Constantinides to Unveil New Hydroponic Science Lab at P.S. 85Q 

City Council Member Costa Constantinides

City Council Member Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria, East Elmhurst, parts of Long Island City, Woodside) today will join representatives from the New York Power Authority, educators at P.S. 85 Queens, and New York Sun Works to cut the ribbon on the new lab.at P.S. 85 Queens — The Judge Charles Vallone School.

The new hydroponic science lab is part of a continued effort to improve science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) curriculum in western Queens. Hydroponic science labs provide students with invaluable hands-on lessons in agriculture, engineering, technology, and biology. 

The lab also plays a key role in Constantinides’ Science 2050 curriculum, which aims to prepare students for 21st Century jobs. Over the last few years, Constantinides has funded a hydroponic science or STEM lab at every school in his council district. 

The ribbon-cutting ceremony is slated to start at 9:15 a.m., today, March 10 at P.S. 85 — The Judge Charles Vallone School, 23-70 31st Street in Astoria.