Queens Lawmakers on the Move June 15, 2020

Queens County City Council News

Meng Announces Changes to PPP to Queens Small Biz Owners

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 Friday the enactment of the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (H.R. 7010). 

The measure, which was passed by Congress and recently signed into law by the President, increases flexibility and access to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), an initiative created by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that provides loans to struggling small businesses.

“I’ve heard from many constituents about the need to make the Paycheck Protection Program more flexible so that the initiative better meets their needs, such as extending the loan forgiveness period and increasing the amount of the loan that can be spent on non-payroll expenses,” said Meng. “The Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act achieves these goals, and makes other enhancements that will benefit small businesses in Queens. Making PPP loans flexible is vital to entrepreneurs, and will help them make decisions that fit their economic needs while retaining their employees. I encourage all PPP loan recipients to consult with their lenders immediately.”

The Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act increases flexibility and access to PPP loans by:

  • Allowing loan forgiveness for expenses beyond the eight-week covered period to 24 weeks, and extending the rehiring deadline;
  • Increasing the current limitation on nonpayroll expenses (rent, utility payments and mortgage interest) for loan forgiveness from 25 to 40 percent;
  • Extending the program from June 30 to December 31;
  • Extending loan terms from two to five years; and
  • Ensuring full access to payroll tax deferment for businesses that take PPP loans.

Meng was an original cosponsor of the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, which passed the passed the House by a vote of 417-1 on May 28.

Constantinides Backs Council’s Commitment to Cut $1B From NYPD

City Council Member Costa Constantinides

Council Member Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria, parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights) said Friday he supports the City Council’s commitment to exploring a potential $1 billion cut to the New York Police Department in the Fiscal Year 2021 budget, which takes effect July 1. 

“Recent events only highlighted years of racial injustice and militarization of the New York Police Department. We must find a way to be smart about how we police New York City, without the brutality we have seen time and again. Overtime has cost the City far too much money,

 and we must seriously consider a hiring freeze on new cadets until we take a deep look at how and for how long we train officers,” said Constantinides.

“Moving money from the $6 billion NYPD, where some officers continue to change or make hollow efforts to change, and into community-building measures such as the Summer Youth Employment Program is the first step toward reforms. I applaud Speaker Corey Johnson and my Council colleagues for their commitment to looking at $1 billion in cuts in the coming fiscal year,” he added.

Aubry Legislation State Study on COVID Health Impacts Get Gov Signature

Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry

Assembly Member Jeffrion L. Aubry (East Elmhurst, LeFrak City, parts of Corona, Woodside, Jackson Heights, Elmhurst) this weekend saw Gov. Andrew Cuomo sign his legislation (S.8245-A/A.10517) requiring the State Department of Health to conduct a study on the health impacts of COVID-19 on minorities in New York State. 

The state previously conducted an antibody testing survey at churches in lower-income New York City communities and communities of color, which showed higher infection rates among individuals in these communities compared to the overall population.

“The disparities in communities that were exposed by the pandemic must be explored analyzed and eradicated. This bill requires that work. My thanks to the Governor, the Senate and Assembly for acting swiftly on this legislation,” said Aubry.

Schumer Demand Senate Take Up Domestic Violence Bill

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) yesterday demanded the United States Senate take up the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which passed the House with bipartisan support all the way back in April of 2019. 

Citing a recent New York State report that details a very troubling 33% rise in domestic violence cases across New York amid COVID, Schumer demanded Leader McConnell take VAWA ‘off the shelf’ and rightfully pass it in the Senate.

Schumer said that New York is not alone in worrisome statistics, either. Other states, like Texas and Illinois, according to the New York Times, have seen similar domestic violence surges and capital resources for many programs could dry up fast.

“The data from New York’s report mirrors similar statistics across other parts of the country that are also seeing a rise in domestic violence amid the coronavirus pandemic. It’s up to all of us to heed the warning in these numbers and not allow a pandemic to fuel an epidemic of domestic violence so many have devoted their lives to preventing,” said Schumer. 

“Since I first helped write the Violence Against Women Act in 1994, countless individuals have been saved. Whether the funds provided were for local shelters, counseling or other critical efforts, the law has given so many a second chance and we cannot rest until the Senate acts, the law is fully reauthorized and the help New York and other states need is on the way.”    

According to New York’s domestic violence task force, “…in the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, data reported by law enforcement and domestic violence service providers pointed to an increase in domestic violence, with the New York State Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline recording a 33 percent increase in calls for April 2020 compared to April 2019, and shelter occupancy rates upstate rising to 78 percent in April 2020, versus 59 percent in April 2019.

Acting BP Lee, Queens Boro Board Briefed on NYC Test & Trace Program

Acting Borough President Sharon Lee.

Acting Borough President Sharon Lee and the Queens Borough Board today will hear a presentation from the NYC Test & Trace Corps, which fights COVID-19 by helping New Yorkers receive free and easy testing for the virus and ensuring care and safe isolation to prevent community spread.

This meeting will be conducted virtually, with Borough Board members participating via videoconference. 

The meeting is slated for 5:30 p.m., today, June 15 an live-streamed to the public on the Borough President’s website at www.queensbp.org.

Addabbo/Pheffer Amato Jamaica Bay Protection Bill Goes to Cuomo Desk For Signature

State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr.
Assemblymember Stacey Pheffer Amato

State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth and parts of South Ozone Park, Ridgewood, Woodside, The Rockaways) and Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Broad Channel, Hamilton Beach, Howard Beach, Lindenwood, Ozone Park, Rockaway Peninsula) last week were able to once again pass bill S.7295/A.9595 through the Senate and Assembly, looking to further protect the waters of Jamaica Bay, after Governor Cuomo vetoed a similar bill last year.

These Jamaica Bay bills would permanently extend the current law that was put into place in 2014, which corrected the longstanding problem of using sub-quality dredging material to fill in the borrow pits of Jamaica Bay. That law is set to expire on June 30, 2022. The bill also seeks to improve the standards evaluating the condition of the bay.

“I know the current and future conditions of Jamaica Bay are important issues for many of my constituents. The bay has seen a resurgence in marine life since laws were enacted to protect the waters from unfit dredging materials and other contaminants, and is healthier than it has been in decades,” Addabbo said. “The delicate and unique ecology of the Bay demands that we implement permanent protections to safeguard against any actions that may result in a loss of wildlife, compromised water quality, or other negative consequences.”

“Jamaica Bay has been a successful result of what happens when government and community come together to protect our environment,” said Pheffer Amato. “We have made so much progress bringing wildlife and an ecological system to this Bay that hasn’t been seen in generations, and we have to ensure that we keep this progress going. Senator Addabbo and I are ready to keep working with the Governor’s office to get it done, and the passage of this bill is a great first step.”

“It would be terrible to see all the hard work done by the community activists, like the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers, be reversed if we allow this bill to expire,” Addabbo added. “We hope to be able to continue working with the Governor’s administration on this issue and to see him sign the legislation into law and permanently protect Jamaica Bay.”