MANH Lawmakers on the Move, Dec. 28, 2020

Manhattan Lawmakers on the Move bannner

Gottfried’s Contact Tracing Confidentiality Bill Signed Into Law 

Richard N. Gottfried (Photo Credit:
Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried

Last Wednesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) signed Assemblymember Richard Gottfried’s (D-Chelsea, Midtown) legislation to ensure the confidentiality of COVID-19 contact tracing information.

The bill, which State Senator Gustavo Rivera (D-Bronx) co-sponsored, prevents the public from accessing information acquired in the process of contact tracing. It also prevents law enforcement and immigration enforcement agencies from accessing or using the information.

“Contact tracing is a necessary component of the fight against COVID-19,” said Gottfried. “But a lot of people have been refusing to provide information to public health contact tracers. Many don’t want their information handed over to law enforcement or immigration. The new law will help build public trust that their information will be protected. And that will help fight the spread of COVID-19 and save lives. Governor Cuomo agreed, and his staff worked closely with us to agree on technical amendments.”

Hoylman, Epstein Hail Signage of Bill to Investigate Predatory Equity

State Senator Brad Hoylman (photo provided by Avi Small)
State Senator Brad Hoylman

Last Thursday, State Senator Brad Hoylman (D-Chelsea, Midtown) and Assemblymember Harvey Epstein (D-Lower East Side, East Village) released statements praising the passage of their legislation requiring the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) to compile a report on predatory equity and the role financial institutions play in protecting bad landlords.

The bill directs the DFS to investigate how financial institutions have encouraged and abetted tenant harassment and other unsavory practices from notorious landlords.

“Slumlord speculators beware,” said Hoylman. “No longer will New York sit idly by and let your disgraceful business model of driving out rent-regulated tenants and small businesses go unchecked. Up to now, there has been little examination of the harmful business practice, known as predatory equity, in which speculators partner with financial institutions to purchase apartment buildings with the intention of profiteering by converting units to market rate. With this new law, New York will take the first step in investigating predatory equity, which leads to displacement, tenant harassment and the loss of valuable affordable housing.”

“Our message to financial institutions that are preying on tenants and small business owners in our neighborhood is clear; we’re watching you,” said Epstein. “With the enactment of our legislation, unscrupulous financial institutions will now have one of the best financial regulatory entities in the country studying their practices to better understand how rules are being bent or broken to serve the interests of speculators at the expense of everyday New Yorkers. I greatly appreciate Senator Hoylman’s team work on this issue, Speaker Heastie’s leadership, and the Governor’s recognition of the importance this bill has for our communities. We look forward to the report and its outcome.”

James Appointed to Vaccine Equity Task Force

Attorney General Letitia James (Photo credit: Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)
Attorney General Letitia James

New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) released a statement last week following her appointment to the Vaccine Equity Task Force.

The Vaccine Equity Task Force, launched on Dec. 21, will ensure that underserved and disenfranchised communities have access to the COVID-19 vaccine. James will be chairing the task force alongside Secretary of State Rossana Rosado, National Urban League President Marc Morial, and Healthfirst President Pat Wang.

“It is vital that New York does everything in its power to eliminate barriers between the vaccine and marginalized communities, which are also the communities most devastated by the pandemic,” said James. “Without equitable vaccine distribution, COVID-19 will remain a plight throughout our state, and will cost us more lives. It is my honor to serve as a co-chair on this task force and help ensure our most vulnerable communities get access to vaccines as quickly and as efficiently as possible.”

Cuomo Announces Moynihan Train Hall Will Be Ready by 2021

Governor Andrew Cuomo (Photo Credit:
Governor Andrew Cuomo

Yesterday, Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) announced that the Moynihan Train Hall project will complete construction by Dec. 31, 2020, and will be operational by Jan. 1, 2021.

The $1.6 billion project, which began in 2016, transforms the century-old Farley Post Office Building into a modern, world class transit hub, increasing the size of Penn Station by 50 percent. Thanks to Cuomo, the train hall will open on schedule, in spite of the coronavirus pandemic.

“New Yorkers have known for decades that Penn Station needed to be reimagined — and after years of work, the Moynihan Train Hall will open on time and on budget at the end of 2020,” Cuomo said. “This monumental accomplishment is a shot of hope as we come out of one of darkest periods in our history and sends a clear message to the world that while we suffered greatly as a result of this once-in-a-century health crisis, the pandemic did not stop us from dreaming big and building for the future. The new Moynihan Train Hall is the embodiment of New York Tough.”

Espaillat Wishes New York a Merry Christmas

U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat (Photo credit: U.S. House Office of Photography)
U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat

U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-Manhattan, Bronx) released the following statement last Christmas Eve, in recognition of the holiday:

“Thank you for your unwavering support this past year – one that has been filled with insurmountable challenges faced by individuals and families throughout our communities and around the nation.  I remain both inspired and galvanized by the resilience I have witnessed throughout these times of hardship, and I vow to continue my efforts in Washington fighting on your behalf.

“As a community, we have endured an extraordinary year and have shown through our dexterity that we are on the road to build back better and stronger than ever before. The familial bond we now share is unbreakable. On behalf of my family to yours, I wish you happiness this holiday season as we each keep the traditions of family, holidays and community alive in our hearts as we celebrate and create new memories as safely as possible.

“Best wishes, and I look forward to the health and healing that the new year will bring.”