Queens Lawmakers on the Move May 4, 2020

Queens County City Council News

Meng Seeks Coronavirus Relief for Bodegas, Ethnic Grocery Stores & Indy Supermarkets

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) announced yesterday that she led members of the New York Congressional Delegation in a letter to House leaders calling for the next coronavirus relief bill to provide critical and needed assistance for bodegas, ethnic grocery stores and small independent supermarkets, many of which are located throughout New York City.   

In her correspondence, which was signed by 12 other New York members of Congress, Meng seeks direct help for these establishments by requesting grants for refrigeration units, connections with farms, hazard pay for frontline employees, and exempting wages from federal income taxes. 

Her letter also seeks assistance for members of the public who shop at these retailers which would in-turn help those businesses. These requests include increased funding for food assistance, providing stimulus checks to individuals with Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers and allowing unemployment insurance regardless of citizenship status.

“New York City has approximately 13,000 bodegas, ethnic grocery stores and other small independent supermarkets,” said Meng. “They serve a critical need for many communities in Queens and across New York City and cater to specific cultural food preferences for the neighborhoods they serve. They too are feeling the financial impact of the COVID-19 crisis and deserve relief. We must not forget about them as Congress prepares to work on its next stimulus package.“

Cuomo Helps Scrub Down MTA Transit Corona Maintenance Facility

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was in Queens yesterday to help sanitize the MTA Transit Corona Maintenance Facility and thank frontline transit workers.

The appearance and rolling up his sleeves come as the Subways is set to close from 1-5 a.m. every night starting Wednesday to disinfect every train car. 

“We cannot ask our frontline workers, who risk their lives every day to keep New Yorkers safe and fed, to ride a public transit system that puts their health at further risk. This historic undertaking to disinfect every subway car in the New York City subway system daily -without disrupting service-will ensure that our frontline workers have a clean and reliable way to get to work,” said Cuomo.

“We will continue to do everything possible to protect the heroes of this crisis,” he added.

Meeks Calls for Prohibition Garnishing Economic Impact Payments

U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks

U.S. Reps. Gregory W. Meeks (D-Jamaica, Laurelton, Rosedale, Cambria Heights, Saint Albans, Springfield Gardens, The Rockaways, JFK Airport) and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) on Friday addressed a letter to the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) asking the agencies to immediately issue regulation or guidance to restrict financial institutions from seizing economic impact payments to collect on outstanding debts, such as overdraft fees.

The letter references reporting of Treasury telling financial institutions during a webinar that the law didn’t expressly prohibit garnishing the economic impact payments, effectively giving those institutions a green light.

“Garnishing economic impact payments is nothing short of cutting one of the only lifelines some families have left during times of massive unemployment. The purpose of these payments was to provide families financial relief during a crisis, not for banks to square off existing debts,” said Meeks.

“Federal agencies must make it explicit that economic impact payments are not to be seized for these purposes, and issue guidance or regulation in accord with the spirit of the law Congress passed,” he added.

Meng, Hevesi, Koslowitz Lead Electeds Calling Form More Safety Net Funding

Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi
City Council Member Karen Koslowitz

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens), Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills, Rego Park, Richmond Hill, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Ridgewood, Middle Village) and City Council Member Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills, Forest Park, Kew Gardens, Rego Park, Richmond Hill) along with State Sen. Roxanne Persaud (D-Brooklyn) last week led 94 state electeds in urging President Trump to support the expansion of critical safety net programs for New Yorkers, as N.Y. continues its fight against COVID-19. 

These programs include food assistance for children and seniors, hazard pay for essential workers, paid sick leave, additional funding for unemployment benefits and other essential initiatives. The letter is signed by New York elected officials from Congress, the New York State Legislature and New York City Council.

“Over 30 million Americans—including 1.6 million New Yorkers—have filed for unemployment benefits since the beginning of the pandemic; this underscores how dire the situation is for millions of people,” said Meng. “New York City is the epicenter of the COVID-19 health crisis and critical human service programs like SNAP, child nutrition programs, WIC and TEFAP need more support than ever.”

“We simply can wait no longer for this assistance,” said Hevesi. “New York has served as the nation’s spearhead during the pandemic, and we have set the standard of how a responsible government reacts to a crisis. We have saved countless lives, and now we need the federal government to do its part.”

“It cannot be emphasized enough that every funding request in this letter has life and death implications,” said Koslowitz.

Sanders Holds Public Banking Roundtable

State Sen. James Sanders Jr.

State Sen. James Sanders Jr. (D-Richmond Hill, South Ozone Park, Jamaica, Rochdale Village, Rosedale, parts of Far Rockaway) tomorrow will team up with Assembly members Assemblymembers Tom Abinanti (D-Westchester) and Kimberly Jean Pierre (D-Long Island) and top financial and banking experts to virtually discuss how to jumpstart the economy after COVID-19.

Amng the other elected officials involved in the discussion include Senator Brian Benjamin (D-Manhattan), chairman of Committee on Revenue and Budget; and Assembly Member Al Taylor (D-Manhattan), chairman of the Subcommittee on Regulated Mortgage Lenders, State Sen. Kevin Parker (D-Brooklyn), chairman of Committee on Energy and Telecommunications; and Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte (D-Brooklyn)   just to name a few who will be joining this historic discussion on how to use public banking as a solution to re-start the economy after COVID-19. 

“While many individuals, families, and small businesses are struggling to survive even after the stimulus package disbursed by the federal government. With the uncertainty of the NYS budget and tax revenue, we seek to address another way to get people the financing that they need. Public banking is one very viable option to save the economy of New York State,” said Sanders.

The event – Public Banking: An Alternative Solution to Restart the Economy Post COVID-19 will take place on Facebook Live at 3 p.m., tomorrow, May 5. Click HERE to RSVP.