Queens Lawmakers on the Move October 30, 2020

Queens County City Council News

Gianaris Proposes “Make Voting Easy” Act

Senator Michael Gianaris

Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside, parts of Woodside, Maspeth, Ridgewood, Woodhaven), who personally witnessed lines stretching for several blocks at Early Voting poll sites, is proposing new legislation to substantially increase the number of Early Voting sites across New York. 

Under Senator Gianaris’ proposal — the Make Voting Easy Act — every county in New York would be required to have one poll site for every 25,000 registered voters.

“Boards of Elections failed to adequately provide enough Early Voting opportunities this year. All over the state, people have been waiting several hours to vote, which is not what our democracy should look like,” said Gianaris. “The current structure of our Boards of Elections has failed to fulfill its primary mission of facilitating voting. Drastic reform is necessary.”

An analysis of Early Voting sites across the state shows that a majority of counties would see an increase in the number of polling locations under Senator Gianaris’ proposal. In the 5 boroughs, Queens would move from 17 Early Voting sites to 48, the Bronx would go from 17 to 33, Brooklyn from 27 to 66, Manhattan from 16 to 48, and Staten Island from 10 to 13.

In 2019, Gianaris identified the problem of too few Early Voting sites for that year’s primary election and called on the New York City Board of Elections to expand the number of sites across the five boroughs. While the Board responded by increasing the number somewhat, it is clearly not enough. 

Early Voting was enacted last year for the first time by the state legislature. Gianaris was the first person in Queens to vote early in 2019.

Koo, Stavisky to Distribute Hand Sanitizer, Masks

City Council Member Peter Koo/via Facebook
State Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky

Councilmember Peter Koo (D-Downtown Flushing, Murray Hill, Queensboro Hill) will join with State Senator Toby Stavisky (D-Central Queens), and the Flushing Business Improvement District to distribute hand sanitizer and masks to local businesses in downtown Flushing on Friday.

The distribution is part of an ongoing effort to keep local businesses and customers safe during the pandemic. 

Koo and Stavisky will distribute the masks and hand sanitizer on Friday, October 30 at 4:30 p.m. on the steps of the Flushing Library located at 41-17 Main Street.

Vallone Introduces Resolution Calling for Peace for Armenia

City Council Member Paul Vallone

Councilmember Paul A. Vallone (D-Auburndale, Bay Terrace, Bayside, Beechhurst, College Point, Douglaston, Flushing, Little Neck, Malba, Whitestone) introduced a resolution calling on Congress and the President of the United States to work towards a lasting ceasefire and peaceful resolution to the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict at Thursday’s Stated Meeting and issued the following statement:

“Today I want to rise and speak on the atrocities once again being perpetuated on the Armenian people and express my deep concern with the ongoing conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Once again, Armenia, the homeland of my wife and our family, finds itself under attack and fighting for survival. It is my hope that an immediate peaceful resolution can be reached to end the heartbreaking violence, destruction and loss of life currently impacting the region of Artsakh. For this reason, I’ve introduced today a resolution urging Congress and the President of the United States to work towards a lasting ceasefire and peaceful resolution to the Armenia and Azerbaijan conflict.

For the thousands of Armenian Americans who call our city home, and the thousands more residing throughout the country, the U.S. must stand up to aggression and let the Armenian people know they are not alone while we advocate for peace in the region. I’m proud today to speak at our City Council Chamber on this issue and call for #PeaceForArmenians.”

The resolution has been referred to the Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations.

BP Lee Expands Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners in Queens

Acting Borough President Sharon Lee.

Acting Queens Borough President Sharon Lee on Thursday announced an initiative to expand the number, language proficiencies and breadth of Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) nurses across Queens hospitals. 

With this initiative to enhance the accessibility of the critical, sensitive care and expertise sexual assault survivors need, there will be at least 54 SANE nurses covering 14 languages across seven of the borough’s nine hospitals by September 2021.

“Specialized, sensitive forensic care can make all the difference in the immediate aftermath of rape and/or sexual assault, not just in the ultimate pursuit of justice but in the survivor’s own agency and power,” said Lee. “It is our intent with this initiative to more than double the number of SANE nurses dedicated to Queens by this time next year, and to especially expand the multi-lingual pool of SANE nurses here in the World’s Borough. Queens thanks our committed partners in this shared mission to enhance the accessibility of this specialized expertise to care for and strengthen the Borough of Families.”

The initiative will more than double the current 26 specialized SANE nurses — registered nurses specifically trained to provide comprehensive medical forensic care for survivors of sexual assault or abuse — who work exclusively across just four Queens hospitals, only some of whom speak Spanish, Chinese and/or Korean.

The initiative will further expand the language accessibility of Queens’ SANE nurses by training nurses proficient or fluent in the following languages in addition to English: Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Greek, Haitian Creole, Hebrew, Hindi, Korean, Nepali, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Urdu.

Lee’s funding will pay for the specialized SANE training of 15 of the 28 additional certified nurses, who will complete the SANE training by September 2021. The 28 SANE nurses will be trained at either the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault or Hofstra University.