Queens Lawmakers on the Move May 20, 2020

Queens County City Council News

Queens Elected Back Benefits For City Employees Who Die of COVID-19

A number of Queens elected officials backed said ’s support for line-of-duty death benefits for survivors of municipal employees who die of COVID-19.

De Blasio said the city will work with the state legislature to pass legislation to establish a presumption that COVID-19 deaths occurred in the line-of-duty, which would grant death benefits and health insurance to surviving family members. 

The mayor previously granted a 45-day extension of health insurance to surviving family members of city workers who die of COVID-19.

State Sen. James Sanders Jr.
Assemblymember Stacey Pheffer Amato

“Essential city workers put themselves in danger every day so that the city can continue to function during the Coronavirus pandemic, and devastatingly some have lost their lives. The families of these heroes are then left helpless. We need to do all we can to help these New Yorkers, so I fully support line-of-duty death benefits for survivors of city workers who die of COVID-19,” said State Sen. James Sanders Jr.

member of the New York State Assembly Governmental Employees committee, I am always willing to work with the City of New York to create legislation to ensure municipal workers have the benefits they need. Especially during this pandemic, for those workers who gave their lives to keep us safe, it is our responsibility to take care of these families who have sacrificed so much, and make sure they have financial and healthcare benefits,” said Assembly Member Pheffer Amato.

Assemblyman Michael DenDekker
Councilmember I. Daneek Miller
Assemblymember David Weprin

“Essential government workers who pass away as a result of contracting COVID-19 on the job are heroes to us all. These commendable people imperiled their safety to keep our city safe and running. I am committed to working with Mayor de Blasio and my colleagues in the State Legislature to pass legislation to allow surviving family members of municipal employees that died from COVID-19 to apply for line-of-duty death benefits and health insurance,” said Assembly Member Michael G. DenDekker.

“Municipal employees, like our Corrections Officers and Correctional Staff, have been on the front lines on the fight against Coronavirus,” said Assemblyman David I. Weprin, Assembly Correction Committee Chair. “There is no question that any COVID – 19 related deaths for these dedicated employees should be considered as occurring on the line-of-duty and I am glad to partner with Mayor Bill de Blasio to ensure that the families of these essential workers are provided for with the benefits they worked so hard to earn and surely deserve.”

“Our public servants have stood at the forefront of the government response to COVID-19 with great courage, and at great personal sacrifice to preserve our health, safety, and quality of life,” said City Council Member I. Daneek Miller, Committee on Civil Service and Labor Chair. “For all that the families of our fallen heroes have suffered, the least we can do is try to make them whole.”

Meng Announces Special Telephone Hotine Regarding COVID-19 Relief Payments

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 the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has established a special telephone line for taxpayers who have questions about their coronavirus relief payments. The number is 800-919-9835.

The phone line is designed to help address many common questions that individuals have about receiving their funds, which are officially known as Economic Impact Payments (EIP). 

“Many in Queens and across the nation have received their relief payments but some have not, and others continue to have questions about obtaining these funds,” said Meng.” I encourage those who want to inquire about their checks to make use of this number, and I thank the IRS for establishing an additional way to provide assistance for constituents during this difficult time.”

The IRS began sending out relief payments in mid-April. The payments are being made under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the third COVID-19 relief package passed by Congress and enacted into law. The payments consist of up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child. The funds are intended to help many taxpayers with the financial burden that they are experiencing due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Taxpayers can also continue to track the status of their payments at Get My Payment, the online portal created by the IRS and U.S. Treasury Department.

Those in Meng’s district who are still unable to have their questions addressed through the phone line or website, can reach out to the Congresswoman’s office at 718-358-MENG.

Ramos Denouncing Common Cause For Misinterpreting Quotes

State Sen. Jessica Ramos

State Sen. Jessica Ramos (D-Corona, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, and parts of Astoria, Woodside) yesterday joined several other state lawmakers in criticizing good government advocacy organization Common Cause for misinterpreting her quotes calling on the state legislature to go back into session.

“It is extremely disturbing that an organization like Common Cause, which usually upholds principles of good government and transparency, decided to misuse our old quotes to misrepresent our views without our permission or knowledge,” said Ramos, in a joint statement with several other state senators.

“The truth is all our colleagues are working extremely hard to serve their constituents during this crisis and we have all been in constant contact with our Senate leadership and Senate President Stewart-Cousins (D-Westchester) has made it clear we will be coming back into session imminently. We ask that Common Cause immediately remove our names from their misleading press release.”

Van Bramer Stresses Importance of Social Distancing

City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer

City Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside) in his weekly e-newsletter yesterday reminded constituents that under the city’s Open Streets program it is still important to follow social distancing and wear masks.

“The Open Streets program is about giving space to people who want to go outside and safely socially distance from their neighbors. I have heard complaint after complaint of drivers racing by pedestrians seemingly to prove a point,” wrote Van Bramer.

“The Open Streets program is simply trying to prevent cars from taking all of the public space on our streets during this pandemic. Our neighborhoods have a very small amount of green space. So at the time when we cannot crowd into places where we used to, we need to use other spaces so that people can take a breath of fresh air.”

Van Bramer announced the following streets are currently designated to be part of the Open Streets Program

  • 46th Street b/w Queens Blvd & Greenpoint
  • Skillman Ave b/w 39th Pl and 43rd street 
  • 39th Ave between Woodside Ave & Barnett
  • 5th Street between 46th Ave & 49th Ave
  • 27th Street b/w Hunter Street and Queens Plaza South
  • Court Square West

The program is relatively straightforward with main details as follows:

  • Between 8am and 8pm
  • Streets that are part of the program will be closed to through traffic
  • Deliveries and local traffic will be the only vehicles allowed
  • Vehicles will have a speed limit of 5 mph
  • The NYPD will be enforcing the program

Additionally, the Mayor announced today that there will be a protected bike lane on Crescent Ave between Queens Plaza North and Hoyt Ave. in Astoria. Furthermore, the lane will open with temporary barriers and lanes between Queens Plaza North and 34th Avenue starting later this week.

DA Katz, Acting Borough Pres Lee Partner on Virtual Memorial Day Ceremony

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz and Acting Queens Borough President Sharon Lee announced they will host a Virtual Memorial Day Observance Ceremony tomorrow.

This is an online-only event, and everyone is encouraged to join from the safety of their own homes while the State of New York remains on P.A.U.S.E. due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our world is a very different place today with our norms turned upside down during this pandemic. But it is still so important to acknowledge the heroes that have kept us safe and protected our freedoms,” said Katz. “As we approach this Memorial Day Weekend, I want to applaud all those that served and sacrificed in our Armed Forces. With a full heart, and on behalf of all those within the Queens District Attorney’s Office, thank you.”

“Queens is eternally grateful to the women and men in the Armed Forces who served and perished in defense of our lives and our freedoms,” said Lee. “Although the extraordinary nature of these times has cancelled the slate of Memorial Day events across Queens, not even a pandemic will stop us from this annual, united observance in honor of those – and their families – who made the ultimate sacrifice. You are not forgotten.”

The ceremony is slated for 11 a.m., tomorrow, May 21 and will be live streamed to the public on www.queensbp.org. It will feature remarks from Lee and Katz delivered from the Veterans Memorial Garden at Queens Borough Hall.