Queens Lawmakers on the Move March 13, 2020

Queens County City Council News

Meng Calls on Airline Industry to Waive Fees Due to 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) yesterday urged the nation’s airline industry to not penalize passengers who alter their flights due to concerns about the coronavirus.

In a letter sent to the head of Airlines for America, the trade association representing major U.S. airlines, Meng called for the suspension of all fees normally charged for changes and cancellations.

“The airline industry has offered limited flexibility to travelers, but it must step-up and do more to accommodate the flying public during the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Meng. “Waiving these fees is the right and responsible thing to do for passengers changing or canceling their flights. I urge all U.S. airlines to immediately adopt this change to their ticket policies. Nothing is more important than ensuring the public health and safety of each and every person.”

Hyndman, Liu, Simotas Urge Approval of Healthy Terminals Act

Assembly Member
Alicia Hyndman
State Sen. John Liu

Assemblymembers Alicia Hyndman (D-Laurelton, Rosedale, St. Albans, Addisleigh Park, Hollis, Springfield Gardens, Jamaica) and Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria, parts of Long Island City) along with State Sen. John Liu (D-Northeast Queens) yesterday urged state passage of the Healthy Terminals Act (HTA) – which would provide airport workers access to health insurance.

Airport workers–including passenger service workers like wheelchair attendants, security, cleaners and passenger service representatives–have been lobbying Albany lawmakers to pass the proposed landmark HTA legislation, which Hyndman sponsored in the assembly.

HTA will require employers at New York airports to provide workers, including sub-contracted passenger services workers, with a $4.54 benefits supplement that workers can use to acquire insurance.

“If you make sure that your workers got healthcare, they can go get tested or treated and not have to worry about cost,” Hyndman said. “When airport workers are protected, passengers are protected. The airlines should be in front of this, and not behind.”

“New York is a gateway for the entire world and we need to do everything to keep these workers safe,” said Liu. “In the midst of this escalating COVID-19 crisis, this points us to the need to pass Healthy Terminals Act. Let’s just get it done because these workers need the healthcare.”

“This crisis has highlighted why we need to pass this important bill now,” said Simotas. “Our airport workers are on the frontlines; they are paid to interface with people, to make sure that they are comfortable and that they can move around airports and get to where they need to go. The least we can do is to make sure that we’re taking care of them.”

Constantinides Announces District Office Protocol in Wake of COVID-19 Spread

City Council Member Costa Constantinides

City Council Member Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria, East Elmhurst, parts of Long Island City, Woodside) announced yesterday that his Astoria district office will remain open with limited in-person staff in an effort to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

“I am committed to making sure every Council District 22 resident, my staff, and all of our neighbors are safe,” said Constantinides. “We remain here to serve you, and my team is still here to resolve any issues Astoria, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, and Woodside residents might have. I urge everyone to remain calm, vigilant, and tolerant during these times — together, we can get through this.”

One staff member will be in the office, on a rotating basis, to handle constituent affairs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, while the remaining employees work remotely. Council District 22 residents are especially encouraged to either call 718-274-500 or email staff for immediate issues. A staff directory can be found here.

Koo Launches Digital Rally to Increase Parks Funding

City Council Member
Peter Koo

City Councilmember Peter Koo (D-Bayside, College Point, Flushing, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Fresh Meadows, Whitestone) today will join with the Play Fair Coalition in calling for increased investment for maintenance, safety and programs in parks across the city.

City parkland comprises 14% of all city land, but the Parks Department receives just 0.6% of the city budget.

Originally planned as a rally on the steps of City Hall, in advance of a City Council Parks Committee’s preliminary budget hearing, Koo and advocates will instead hold a rally via Twitter to announce the 2020 Play Fair campaign.The digital rally is slated for 9 a.m., today, March 13 on Twitter @NY4P.