Queens Lawmakers on the Move Feb. 2, 2021

Queens County City Council News

Gianaris Calls for Tenant, Small Landlord Relief  

Senator Michael Gianaris

State Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside, parts of Woodside, Maspeth, Ridgewood, Woodhaven) urged Governor Andrew Cuomo to include $2.2 billion in assistance for renters in this year’s state budget. 

In a letter sent on Monday, Gianaris highlighted support from housing and small landlord advocates alike for such a program. The letter comes on February 1, a date when rent is due for millions throughout the state.

“New York has spent the last year in the midst of a public health and economic crisis. If we don’t take action now, we will also fall into a housing and eviction crisis,” said Gianaris. “Whether funds come from the federal government or new sources of state revenue, we must include rent relief in this year’s state budget because tenants deserve peace of mind and small landlords should be made whole.”

The proposed relief would supply $2.2 billion in funds to eligible landlords in exchange for rent forgiveness for tenants who have not been able to pay rent during the covid-19 pandemic. Gianaris is calling for this relief program to be funded either with revenue from the federal government or from increased taxes on wealthy New Yorkers.

Read Gianaris’ full letter here.

Meng Introduces National Office of New Americans Act

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) introduced the National Office of New Americans Act in the House of Representatives last week with U.S. Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), and Jesús “Chuy” García (D-IL).

“Immigrants make indelible contributions to our nation, and it is long past time that we create an entity in the Executive Office of the President that ensures our country is welcoming and helpful toward those who come to our shores,” said Meng. “While we aspire to be a beacon of hope and opportunity, we must match word with deed. We cannot allow immigrants to be treated as an afterthought; we must ensure their path to becoming ‘new Americans’ is clear and well resourced. After the atrocious last four years of an administration that demonized, criminalized, and dehumanized immigrants and refugees at every turn, our bill would ensure a welcoming and inclusive system for all new Americans.”

The bill—which seeks to welcome and assist immigrants and refugees as they acclimate to life in America—comes as President Joe Biden seeks to overhaul the nation’s immigration system.

Specifically, the legislation would establish an office within the Executive Office of the President to coordinate federal, state, and local efforts that help immigrants and refugees obtain employment, and assist with language access, and civic engagement. It would also oversee the coordination of work by federal, state, and local governments to support integration efforts, such as helping to attain citizenship.

Miller’s Legislation Passes in Council

Councilmember I. Daneek Miller

City Councilmember I. Daneek Miller (D-Cambria Heights, Hollis, Jamaica, St. Albans, Queens Village, and Springfield Gardens), Chair of the Committee on Civil Service and Labor. introduced two pieces of legislation to the New York City Council that passed last week. 

The legislation, Introductions 2161-A and 2162-A, both address worker health and safety concerns, of which there have been many since the beginning of the pandemic.

“Unfortunately, it was a combination of mismanagement and unclear guidance that led to the death of many of the City’s workforce during the peak of this pandemic. This legislation will ensure that there are clear safety guidelines based on federal guidance, delivered efficiently and effectively to our target audiences,” said Miller. “It is incumbent upon us to support the dedicated men and women that keep this City running and deliver services so seamlessly.”

Introduction 2161-A, sponsored by Miller, and City Councilmembers Helen Rosenthal, and Farah Louis, establishes a board to review workplace health and safety guidance for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure that proper guidance is given to both municipal and private employees.

Introduction 2162-A, sponsored by Miller, and City Councilmembers Alicka Ampry-Samuel, Ben Kallos, Helen Rosenthal, Adrienne Adams, and Farah Louis amends the Administrative Code of the City of New York, creating new guidelines regarding disseminating occupational safety and health information to city employees during public health emergencies. The legislation also mandates an emergency bulletin with up-to-date health and safety guidance be distributed by the Citywide Office of Occupational Safety and Health, under the purview of the Department of Citywide Administrative Services.

On Wednesday, Council Member Miller chaired the Civil Service and Labor Committee oversight hearing on the state of labor during COVID-19. Many of the participants who testified on behalf of the City’s public and private workforce cited a lack of clear safety guidelines and procedures in their places of work, once again reaffirming the necessity of these new guidelines.

A video recording of the Stated Meeting is available online.

Velázquez Hosts Town Hall on COVID Vaccine

U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez

U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-Parts of Queens, Brooklyn, Lower Manhattan) is hosting a town hall on Thursday about the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Panelists for the town hall will be announced soon.

The town hall will take place on Thursday, February 4 at 4 p.m. on Zoom. 

Register in advance here.