Queens Lawmakers on the Move March 11, 2020

Queens County City Council News

Sanders and Senate Majority Boost New York Small Business

State Sen. James Sanders Jr.

State Sen. James Sanders Jr. (D-Richmond Hill, South Ozone Park, Jamaica, Rochdale Village, Rosedale, parts of Far Rockaway) and the Senate Democratic Majority this week will advance a legislative package to boost small businesses across the state and help grow New York’s economy.

Small businesses are often unable to get the necessary funds to grow and remain unaware of state assistance that is available to them. The legislation being advanced by the Senate Majority will help small businesses by closing the information gap and improving small businesses’ access to state capital assistance. 

Additionally, these bills will create crime prevention services for small businesses and increase reporting on potentially negative effects new rules and regulations may have on small businesses across New York.

Included in this package is Sanders’ bill, S.6165, which increases the lifetime cap on the total amount a borrower can borrow under the Excelsior Linked Deposit Program (ELDP) from $2 million to $5 million.

Meng Blasts House GOP Leader for “Chinese Coronavirus” Comment

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), vice-chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), yesterday criticized House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) for referring to the coronavirus as the “Chinese coronavirus.”

“I am shocked and dismayed that the GOP Leader in the House of Representatives has referred to the coronavirus as the ‘Chinese coronavirus.’ This labeling of the illness is embarrassing, disrespectful, offensive, and downright disgusting. It is shameful,” said Meng.

“Since the first cases of the novel coronavirus – otherwise known as COVID-19 – were reported in the U.S., I warned the public about not singling out the Asian American community. As Vice Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), I also joined my CAPAC colleagues in calling on all Members of Congress to do the same. But unfortunately, these pleas have not stopped acts of discrimination from taking place across the country, and to now see such blatant disregard from the House Minority Leader is truly stunning,” said Meng.

“The Minority Leader must immediately apologize for and stop this dangerous, irresponsible, and insulting manner in which he referred to the coronavirus, and join me in urging all our colleagues to stop these harmful references. Scapegoating and political expediency are never the answer – especially at the expense of respect and responsibility.” 

Cruz Unveils ‘Do Not Darken My Doorstep’ Legislation

Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz.

Assemblymember Catalina Cruz (D-Corona, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights) and State Sen. Andrew Gounardes (D-Brooklyn) yesterday today announced the Do Not Darken My Doorstep bill (S7819/A9993), one of a series of anti-harassment bills introduced in the state legislature that build on last year’s landmark anti-harassment reforms. 

This bill bars employers from using “no rehire” clauses in settlement agreements with employees or independent contract workers, which would ban employees who settle discrimination or harassment cases from ever working for their employer again.

“No rehire” clauses have been widely known to disincentivize victims from coming forward when they experience harassment or discrimination. By including this clause within settlements, employers are forcing an undue burden on employees who have experienced harassment. Especially when they apply to large multinational corporations or companies following mergers and acquisitions, these clauses can have the effect of banning employees who have been harassed from entire industries.

“Survivors of workplace harassment and discrimination are often re-traumatized and re-victimized when they are unable to obtain gainful employment in their field due to ‘No Rehire’ or ‘Do Not Darken My Doorstep’ clauses.  I am proud to introduce legislation this session that would ban these clauses, which purposefully seek to intimidate employees from filing complaints against their employers, out of fear that they will not be rehired. These employees should not face retaliation and targeting for bravely coming forward and exposing wrongdoing in their workplace,” said Cruz.

PA Williams Calls for Increased Enforcement Against Unauthorized Dollar Vans

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.

Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams yesterday called for increased enforcement against unauthorized commuter van operations today after a Brooklyn cyclist was struck by an unlicensed driver on Saturday. 

Williams was joined by industry advocates outside the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission’s Manhattan office on Tuesday afternoon to address the need to utilize enforcement powers as established, to protect the public and legitimate commuter van companies operating in good faith.

“Commuter vans are a critical component of our city’s transportation infrastructure, especially in areas underserved by the  MTA– but unauthorized, often uninsured operators pose a danger to the public, as we unfortunately saw last weekend,” said Williams after meeting with the new TLC Commissioner, Aloysee Heredia Jarmoszuk. 

“I’ve worked closely with advocates and with the TLC for years to step up enforcement while ensuring that drivers operating in good faith can safely and effectively work with the community. I believe that the new Commissioner will be a strong partner in these efforts going forward,” he added.

Gillibrand Urges Congress to Expand Mandatory Paid Leave

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), confronting the nation’s growing public health crisis caused by the outbreak of COVID-19, yesterday urged Congress to pass new legislation to require employers to provide additional paid sick leave during a public health emergency. 

Currently, many employees have limited or no access to paid sick leave, raising concerns over the ability to make doctor’s visits, quarantine, or stay home if infected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

The proposed Paid Sick Days for Public Health Emergencies and Personal Family Care Act builds upon current legislation to require paid sick leave coverage for all employees and would expand qualifying events to include the effects of a public health emergency — like school and employer closings, quarantine, and family care. This legislation will address the current crisis and ensure paid sick leave is provided in the future.  

“COVID-19 isn’t just a public health crisis, it’s an economic crisis for millions of working Americans without paid sick leave,” said Gillibrand. “Not only might employees need to stay home for their own health, but school closures will require parents or family members to stay home with children. No one should have to choose between a paycheck and caring for themselves or a sick child or loved one, especially during public health emergencies. I believe every worker should have two weeks mandatory paid sick leave and I’m proud to support this legislation that prioritizes working families.”

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