Parker Helps Create Public Holiday For Juneteenth
State Sen. Kevin Parker (D-East Flatbush, Flatbush, Midwood, Ditmas Park, Kensington, Park Slope, Windsor Terrace) applauded the Senate Democratic Majority in passing legislation yesterday that creates a public holiday to celebrate Juneteenth.
“African-Americans have played an integral role in the freedoms and quality of life we all enjoy today. In New York State, it is important we recognize Juneteenth and use it as an opportunity to reflect on our country’s complex history, and acknowledge the profound contributions African-Americans have made to our nation. Every day our communities witness a continued fight for justice and equality. Designating Juneteenth a public holiday gives us a chance to recognize our liberties, honor our ancestor’s struggle for emancipation, and send a clear message that we value this significant moment in history,” said Parker.
The legislation advanced by the Senate Majority, Senate Bill S.8598, sponsored by Parker, designates June nineteenth as a public holiday.
This public holiday to be celebrated statewide on June nineteen every year will commemorate for all New Yorkers the celebration of the end of slavery as experienced by those who were enslaved in Texas and were last to learn about the victory of the Union Army and their emancipation on June 19, 1865.
Bichotte’s Legislation That’s Close to Heart Passes
Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte’s (D-Flatbush, Ditmas Park) Jonah Bichotte Cowan Law legislation that would require hospitals to inform expectant mothers if they are going into preterm labor, and provide care to women with high-risk pregnancies passed yesterday.
“Nearly four years ago, I lost my son, Jonah Bichotte Cowan, after going into preterm labor. On October 4, 2016, I entered the New York Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Hospital 22 weeks into my pregnancy after a check-up revealed that I was several centimeters dilated. At the hospital, I was told that my baby and I were in an incredibly fatal and high-risk situation.
Knowing the risks associated with this condition, the doctors at New York Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Hospital, denied treatment and discharged me, citing a ‘hospital policy’ which claimed they could not intervene before 23 weeks because insurance would not cover my preterm labor care. I was a week away from receiving the care we desperately needed. On October 7, 2016, I gave birth to Jonah, who was alive, at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, where I was admitted and received care. Jonah passed away several hours later,” she wrote.
The Jonah Bichotte Cowan Law passed in the New York State Assembly and Senate. The next step is for the Governor to sign the bill into law.
Gounardes Legislation on MTA Accessibility
State Senator Andrew Gounardes (D-Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, Gravesend, Gerritsen Beach, Manhattan Beach, Marine Park) and Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz (D-Bronx) legislation that would establish criteria for the MTA to use when evaluating which subway stations to prioritize for accessibility improvements pass both chambers this week.
The bill requires the MTA to fully develop criteria to determine how to best prioritize subway stations for accessibility improvement and to make both the methodology and the finalized criteria publicly available.
“We have a long way to go to make our MTA accessible but this is a step forward. Criteria for determining which stations will be made accessible is a hallmark of good governance and makes concrete action more likely. New Yorkers with disabilities cannot wait to have equal access to their public transportation network. Holding the MTA accountable for accessibility is more important than ever because of the current budget gaps. The MTA needs to prioritize, and it must prioritize its riders first,” said Gounardes.
The minimum selection criteria established by the bill are citywide geographic coverage, transit transfer options, annual ridership volume, census tract data for senior and disabled populations and percentage of those populations in poverty, residential density of surrounding neighborhoods, and proximity to medical centers, schools, parks, business districts, cultural hubs, and senior centers.
Kavanagh’s Passage of Bill on Facial Recognition Technology
State Sen. Brian Kavanagh (D-Northern Brooklyn, Lower Manhattan) and Assemblymember Monica Wallace’s (D-Lancaster) legislation to pause facial recognition technology in schools passed the legislature.
“I am concerned that this technology is an inherent threat to the privacy and civil rights of students, staff, and visitors, that it is an ineffective form of school security, and that data in the system may not be stored securely,” said Kavanagh. “We certainly should look with skepticism upon any plan that is premised on ubiquitous high-tech surveillance of schoolchildren as the best way to keep them safe.”
The bill imposes a nearly two-year moratorium, until July 1, 2022, on the use of facial recognition technology in public and nonpublic elementary and secondary schools, including charter schools, and directs the New York State Education Department Commissioner to study the issue and determine whether or not the technology is appropriate for use in schools.
If this technology is deemed appropriate, the Education Department must propose restrictions and guidelines on its use.
Persaud to Continue Helping Businesses Recover
Senator Roxanne J. Persaud (D-Canarsie, East New York, Brownsville, Mill Basin, Sheepshead Bay, Bergen Beach, Marine Park, Flatlands, Mill Island, Georgetown, Ocean Hill, Starrett City) and the Senate Democratic Majority passed legislation that will continue helping New Yorkers and businesses recover from the effects of COVID-19 in New York State.
“The bills passed today build upon the Senate Majority ongoing legislative response combatting the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Persaud said. “I am proud to join my colleagues, under the leadership of Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, in continuing to help New Yorkers recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and adjust to our new normal. Our efforts are not done, and we will work to help New Yorkers navigate through the coming months and into the future.”
This legislation focuses on helping small businesses provide PPE, keeps contract tracing information confidential, and protects New Yorkers as they return to the workforce. This package builds on previous legislation passed to help combat COVID-19.
Rose- Call on Anti-Asian Hate Crimes
U.S. Rep. Max Rose (South Brooklyn, Staten Island) joined a bipartisan group of 150 Members of Congress in calling for the Attorney General to take action and publicly condemn discrimination and violence toward Asian Americans.
“The hate, violence, harassment and discrimination that has been hurled upon those in the Asian American community is gut-wrenching, horrible and wrong,” Rose said. “I hear from families and seniors that they’re afraid to leave their homes, business owners forced to shut down, and far too many who have been victim to street attacks, verbal assaults, or racist fliers. It has no place in our community and we all must stand strong in solidarity against it. I’m proud to see so many of my colleagues join together from both parties to strongly condemn these actions, now the Administration must join the chorus.”
Since the beginning of the crisis, there have been numerous reports of Asian Americans being threatened, harassed, or assaulted. As of June 3, the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council reported 2,066 incidents of coronavirus-related discrimination. As a result, these communities, in addition to working to combat the coronavirus, are left fighting an additional front—that of hate and injustice.