MANH Lawmakers on the Move, Apr. 1, 2020

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Velázquez Bill Would Enlist Restaurants in Anti-Hunger Effort

Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez
Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez

Yesterday, U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-LES, Brooklyn, Queens) introduced a bill to help alleviate staffing shortages at anti-hunger nonprofit organizations.

Under the bill, nonprofits could qualify for grants of up to $500,000 to partner with restaurants for the preparation of food for vulnerable populations.

“COVID-19 is affecting all Americans, but, as is the case with most crises, our most vulnerable neighbors will undoubtedly suffer the greatest hardship,” said Velázquez. “Many of our nonprofit antihunger organizations were stretched thin before the virus hit and the coming months will mean even greater challenges. This bill will meet the dual goals of assisting New York’s and our nation’s restaurant workers and industry, while using their experience and skill to channel food to the hungry.”

Johnson Calls for Rent Relief

Council Member Corey Johnson
Council Member Corey Johnson (Credit: Jeff Reed)

Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen) released a statement yesterday calling for rent relief amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Johnson released the statement just before the first of the month, a day when many New Yorkers’ rent payments will be due. He argued that, in these trying times, we need to alleviate the burden of rent for vulnerable New Yorkers.

“We need rent relief for those impacted by this crisis,” said Johnson. “I support State Sen. Michael Gianaris’ efforts to suspend rent for those who lost income because of the epidemic. In addition, I am interested in helping lower income tenants adversely affected by coronavirus who were already struggling even before this crisis. Rent payments due to coronavirus/COVID-19 hardship must be reduced – or in some cases cancelled – now. We must also ensure that those tenants aren’t hit with exorbitant back rents they won’t be able to afford after this crisis is over.”

Hoylman Puts Anti-LGBTQ Group Running COVID-19 Field Hospital On Notice

State Senator Brad Hoylman
State Senator Brad Hoylman

Last Monday, State Senator Brad Hoylman (D-Chelsea, Midtown) made a statement calling out Franklin Graham, the pastor behind New York’s Central Park COVID-19 field hospital.

Graham, the President of Samaritan’s Purse, is notorious for expressing virulently anti-LGBTQ views. As such, Hoylman warned him to treat all of his patients equally, regardless of orientation.

“COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate, and neither should Franklin Graham,” said Hoylman. “It’s unacceptable that a New Yorker infected with COVID-19 could be subjected to discriminatory treatment from an organization whose leader calls us ‘immoral’ and ‘detestable’.

“Today I’m calling on Franklin Graham to publicly assure LGBTQ New Yorkers that they will receive the same treatment as anyone else at the Central Park field hospital. The City of New York and the Mount Sinai hospital network must monitor conditions closely at Graham’s facility and ensure every single LGBTQ patient is treated fairly. We cannot abandon our moral compass in the middle of a pandemic.”

AG James Condemns Trump Admin for Fuel Economy Standards Rollback

Attorney General of NY Letitia James
Attorney General of NY Letitia James

Yesterday, New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) issued a statement after President Donald Trump (R) announced a rollback of fuel economy standards for cars and light-duty trucks.

Trump rolled back an Obama-era law passed in 2012, which required automakers to produce vehicles that averaged 55 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2025. Instead, their new deadline is to produce vehicles that average 44 mpg by 2026.

“Today, the Trump administration is stunting our nation’s progress in the fight for clean air, climate change, and the protection of consumers’ wallets,” said James. “Weakening vehicle emission and fuel economy standards paves the way for tens of millions of Americans to breathe dirtier air and for billions of tons more greenhouse gases to be pumped into our atmosphere. I will continue to work with attorneys general from across the country to fight the administration’s reckless action.”