MANH Lawmakers on the Move, Jan. 25, 2021

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Nadler Introduces Legislation to Regulate Commercial Air Tours

U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (Photo Credit: U.S. House Office of Photography)
U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler

Last Friday, U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan, Brooklyn) introduced the Safe and Quiet Skies Act alongside several of his colleagues.

The bill would direct the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to adopt recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in order to make commercial flights safer. One such recommendation would be instating a requirement that all tour flights stay 1,500 feet above ground level at all times, except in emergency situations.

“The commercial air tours that buzz incessantly through New York City’s skies are not only a source of unnecessary and damaging noise and environmental pollution, they put New Yorkers and tourists in danger,” said Nadler. “After more than thirty helicopter crashes in New York City since 1980 alone, many of which been fatal, I have repeatedly called on the FAA to impose additional regulations to keep our city safe. Unfortunately, the FAA has failed to take meaningful action. In 2019, nearly eight thousand commercial air tours flew over National Parks of New York Harbor Management Unit (NPNH) sites, which include national treasures like the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The large volume of commercial air tours over NPNH sites are increasingly unsafe and create quality of life issues for New Yorkers and tourists through noise and negative environmental impacts.

“I am proud to join my colleagues in authoring legislation to place needed restrictions on commercial air tour operations. Low-flying tourist helicopters and small planes are both a nuisance and a clear danger: it’s time we put an end to reckless joy-rides over New York City.”

James’ Lawsuit Against NRA to Continue in Manhattan Court

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

Last Friday, New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) hailed a recent court order regarding her lawsuit against the National Rifle Association (NRA).

Earlier that day, Judge Joel Cohen of the New York County State Supreme Court ruled that her case could continue in a Manhattan court, and would not be forced to move to Albany or dismissed altogether. Previously, the NRA had filed motions to dismiss James’ complaint, stay the action, and move the case to Albany; Cohen denied all three of them.

“Today’s order reaffirms what we’ve known all along: the NRA does not get to dictate if and where they will answer for their actions,” said James. “We thank the court for allowing our case to move forward and look forward to holding the NRA accountable.”

Velázquez Introduces Bill to Make Pandemic Unemployment Benefits Tax-Free

Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (Photo Credit:
Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez

Last Friday, U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-LES, Brooklyn, Queens) introduced a bill to mandate that Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) benefits do not count as taxable income.

The CARES Act, passed last March, included provisions funding weekly unemployment benefits; since then, Congress has extended the program to run until March 14, 2021. Velázquez’s bill would make these payments tax-free. It would also ensure that Congress does not prevent recipients from qualifying for other federal programs, such as SNAP.

“Right now, millions of Americans have found themselves out of work through no fault of their own,” said Velázquez. “By relieving the income tax on federal unemployment benefits, we can help lift a financial burden on these families as COVID-19 cases continue to persist and the economy inches towards recovery. This bill is a commonsense step with the potential to provide a bit more peace-of-mind to millions of Americans who are facing the darkest period since the Great Depression.” 

Johnson, Greenfield, Wright Call on de Blasio to Reauthorize Emergency Funding for Hungry New Yorkers

Council Member Corey Johnson (Credit: Jeff Reed)
Council Member Corey Johnson

Yesterday, Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen), Met Council CEO David Greenfield and United Way of New York City President & CEO Sheena Wright wrote an op-ed for amNY to call on Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) to reauthorize the $25 million in emergency food pantry funding distributed last May.

In May 2020, the City provided $25 million to fund food pantries in order to confront the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, however, the crisis is arguably even worse than it was then, and the need to help food insecure New Yorkers has never been more dire.

“There are thousands of elderly New Yorkers, including Holocaust survivors and people with disabilities, who are homebound, and vulnerable to COVID-19,” they wrote. “There are cab drivers and college students who need support, as well as small business owners who went under in this challenging economic and social environment. Families who have lost a provider at home, especially among Black and Brown communities, are struggling financially. New Yorkers who are undocumented and have been left out of federal relief depend on emergency food providers for meals. Millions of New Yorkers rely on assistance from Met Council, United Way for New York City and others to provide them with safe, reliable access to healthy meals and groceries. These are our neighbors, our friends, our co-workers, and our family.”

Read the full article here.