Political Odds & Ends, Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021

Chalk loudspeaker and inscription odds and ends on black chalkboard
Black chalkboard with drawing of a loudspeaker and inscription odds and ends

NYC Reps File Amicus Brief Against Puerto Rico’s Fiscal Control Board

Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (Photo Credit: ballotpedia.org)
U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez
U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
City Councilman Ritchie Torres
U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres

U.S. Reps. Nydia Velazquez (D-Lower Manhattan/Queens/Brooklyn), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Queens/Bronx) and Richie Torres (d-Manhattan/Bronx) along with U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-IL) have filed an amicus brief siding with plaintiff Liga de Ciudades, a Puerto Rican non-profit organization, in a lawsuit against the Financial Oversight and Management Board. 

The lawmakers are warning in federal court of the dire fiscal consequences for the elderly, women, teenagers, and citizens below the poverty level if municipal budgets are further slashed as part of the island’s debt restructuring.

In the amici, the Congresspeople assert that municipalities in Puerto Rico, which have borne the brunt of austerity measures, “are the first line of service and support to communities and constituents in Puerto Rico.” 

They go on to emphasize that they have all witnessed, from their Districts, “the impoverishing effect the Financial Oversight and Management Board has had on Puerto Rican Municipalities and their communities. The burden of the Oversight Board is especially great for amici curiae constituents who have migrated to their Districts because of the austerity measures imposed on their Municipalities of origin.”

The full brief is online here.

Meng Supports Hepatitis B Vaccines for all Adults

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng

U.S. Reps. Grace Meng (D-Queens) and Hank Johnson (D-GA), Co-Chairs of the Congressional Hepatitis Caucus, issued the following statement on the vote to recommend hepatitis B vaccines for all adults, which is set to be held today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

“The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) will vote on a recommendation to allow hepatitis B vaccinations for all adults in the United States. As co-chairs of the Congressional Hepatitis Caucus, we cannot overstate the importance of this vote,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement.

“Hepatitis B is a liver infection that can cause cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma, and death in extreme cases. But these are preventable with the vaccine. Up to 2.4 million Americans are currently living with hepatitis B and 65-75% remain undiagnosed.

“Science and experience demonstrate vaccines to be a crucial step in complete eradication of certain viruses. Eliminating hepatitis B for the millions of people who suffer and contract it every year would be monumental for our country. Current guidelines state that only people who are at high risk are eligible for the hepatitis B vaccine. However, it is critical for all adults to be vaccinated against hepatitis B. 

“Our resolution to recognize April 30 as National Adult Hepatitis B Vaccination Awareness Day underscores our dedication to the elimination of hepatitis B.

“The U.S. is on the path to eliminating viral hepatitis by 2030. Achieving universal adult hepatitis B vaccinations is a significant step toward reducing health disparities, reducing new infections, and working toward complete elimination of hepatitis B.

“We commend the CDC’s work toward the elimination of viral hepatitis.”

Gianaris Accepting Entries for Annual Thanksgiving Creative Program

Senator Michael Gianaris

Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris (D-Queens) is once again hosting his annual Thanksgiving-themed creative program, inviting young people from across western Queens to submit a creative depiction showing what they are thankful for this time of year. 

“This program provides students an opportunity to reflect on the holiday season and learn to express themselves creatively,” said Gianaris. “As our community begins to return to normal, this is an important way to reflect and give thanks for that which we have.”  

Entries are being accepted on Senator Gianaris’ website (gianaris.nysenate.gov) from students in Kindergarten through Sixth grade. Students are encouraged to submit works of art, poems, and short stories. Entries are due by Nov. 22. 

Sanders Jr.’s Cancer Bill Into Law

State Senator James Sanders Jr. Photo from nysenate.gov

Governor Kathy Hochul signed Senator James Sanders Jr.’s (d-Queens) cancer-related bill aka the “Nigro Bill” (S.661/SANDERS Same as A.6424/Bichotte Hermelyn) into law last week. 

The legislation temporarily amends the worker’s compensation law for death benefits with relation to cancers caused by diesel exhaust exposure.

“I am very proud of this legislation which will allow grieving families to be able to seek financial justice for the loss of their loved one,” Sanders said. 

Specifically, the bill allows for a filing of a claim within one year from the effective date of this section for death benefits due to cancer caused by exposure to diesel exhaust, superseding other legal provisions which would bar such claims due to time-constraints.

On January 5, 2012, Anthony Nigro – after whom the bill is named – died of lung cancer after a long career as a bus mechanic. Over the course of his job, Mr. Nigro was regularly exposed to the harmful diesel exhaust. Although his widow filed a timely claim for death benefits, other widows/widowers and dependents of workers who died of cancer due to diesel exhaust exposure are barred from filing claims for workers’ compensation benefits because the statute of limitations expired before scientific proof of diesel exhaust as a Class 1 carcinogen became available. 

The public policy of the State of New York states that worker’s compensation benefits shall be provided to the dependents of workers who die as a result of workplace accidents and illnesses.