Political Odds & Ends, Nov. 4, 2021

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

Biden Nominates Bklyn Assemblymember Perry for Jamaica Ambassadorship

Nick Perry
Assemblymember Nick Perry

President Joe Biden yesterday announced his nomination of Brooklyn Assemblymember Nick Perry to be the next United States Ambassador to Jamaica.

Perry was born in Jamaica and represents a predominantly Caribbean-American community in Brooklyn, including East Flatbush, Canarsie, and Brownsville. The appointment came after a strong recommendation and push from U.S. Senator Charles Schumer.

“I’m proud to support New York State Assemblymember Nick Perry to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Jamaica. Assemblymember Perry has dedicated his life’s work to serving his constituents in the 58th district, and has fostered many deep and lasting cultural, economic and political connections between the United States and Jamaica – and that experience will make him an outstanding ambassador,” said Schumer. “Born and raised in Jamaica, Assemblymember Perry – a U.S. Army vet – has a unique perspective and understanding of Jamaica that will benefit both the United States and Jamaica in their deep and abiding partnership. The bottom line is that there is no one better prepared to go ‘Down Yard’ and represent the United States of America than Nick Perry and I am very happy to support his nomination.”

Perry was born and raised in Jamaica and immigrated to the U.S. in 1971. He served in the U.S. Army for two years of active duty and four years on reserve status. Perry received several service medals and was honorably discharged with the rank of Specialist E-5. After serving in the army, Perry attended college on the G.I. Bill and earned a B.A. in Political Science and an M.A. in Public Policy and Administration from Brooklyn College.

Perry was first elected to the Assembly in 1992 and was re-elected to serve his 15th consecutive term in November 2020. He currently serves on the following Assembly Committees: Rules, Ways & Means, Codes, Banks, Labor, and Transportation. Perry is the former Chairman of the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus.

Queens BP Richards to Hold Land Use Public Hearing

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. will hold a regular Public Hearing on Land Use matters concerning the borough this week.

Slated to be heard include an application submitted by the NYC Department of Environmental Protection for an amendment to the City Map involving a.) the elimination, discontinuance and closing of a portion of the Clearview Expressway bounded by the Cross Island Parkway, Clearview Expressway, and Roe Place; and zoning amendments slated for Jamaica, including one lot to be rezoned for Mandatory Inclusionary Housing.

Those who wish to testify may register for speaking time by visiting www.queensbp.org/landuse and submitting their contact information. Each registrant will receive a confirmation e-mail with instructions on how to participate in the live public hearing. Speaking time can also be arranged by calling (718) 286-3000 between 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. prior to the date of the hearing.

Written testimony is welcome from those unable to testify live. All written testimony must be received by 5 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 4 and may be submitted by e-mail to planning@queensbp.org or by conventional mail sent to the Office of the Queens Borough President at 120-55 Queens Boulevard – Room 226, Kew Gardens, NY 11424.

The public hearing is slated for 9:30 a.m., today, Nov. 4. It will be live streamed to the public at www.queensbp.org.

Jeffries Introduces Halt Obesity In America Act

U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries

U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn/Queens) and David McKinley (R-WV) announced yesterday the introduction of the Halt Obesity in America Act to expand evidence-based obesity prevention strategies to more parts of the country. 

The bill would extend eligibility for grants that increase access to healthier foods and safe places for physical activity to more high-obesity counties. The legislation would increase the number of eligible states to apply for funding from the High Obesity Program in fiscal year 2023 from approximately 30 to 43 and increase the number of eligible counties from 335 to 1,687.

Today more than 40% of Americans – or 93.3 million people – face obesity. By 2030, half of the adult American population is projected to have obesity. Yearly, obesity-related medical care costs in the U.S. are at least $149 billion, about half of which is paid for by Medicare and Medicaid. Obesity is associated with nearly 1 in 5 adult deaths in the U.S., nearly as many as smoking. Those facing obesity are 1.5 to 2.5 times more likely to die of a heart disease than those with a healthy body mass index.

“Obesity and its side effects touch every single community across our country, and we must do more to halt this alarming epidemic. As we look to solve this national problem, we must not neglect the historically underserved and lower-income communities that face greater health risks for obesity. I am proud to partner with Rep. McKinley to introduce the Halt Obesity in America Act so that we can bring affordable, healthy foods and safe places for physical activity to more neighborhoods,” said Jeffries.

Addabbo Bill to Include Siblings Under Paid Family Leave Signed Into Law 

A bill sponsored by Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. (S.2928-A) allowing family members to care for a sibling under Paid Family Leave was signed into law during a press conference on November 1, 2021.  

“If this past year has taught us anything, it is that we must recognize the needs of all individuals, especially during life’s most challenging periods,” Addabbo said. “Many siblings share a strong bond, and for some single individuals, a sibling may be the only surviving family member that they have. Adding “sibling” to the definition of “family member” for the purpose of Paid Family Leave is simply common sense.”

The 2016 Paid Family Leave proposal initially included siblings, but they were cut out in the final enacted deal. Currently, New York’s Paid Family Leave (PFL) defines family members more broadly than the federal Family Medical Leave Act and will allow employees to take paid leave to care for family members with serious health conditions. However, a family member is defined as a spouse, child, parent, domestic partner, parent-in-law, grandparent, or grandchild. Siblings are not included in this definition. 

This means that an employee can’t take paid leave to care for a sibling. It doesn’t matter if the sibling is terminally ill and doesn’t have a spouse, child, parent, or someone else to provide care. The only exception to the no sibling rule is if the sibling had been acting as a parent to the employee, or the employee has been acting as a parent to the sibling. 

Employee contributions made through paycheck deductions cover the entire cost of Paid Family Leave. Every year the employee contribution rate is set according to the cost of insurance coverage, and employers use the employee contributions to pay the insurance premiums. 

“Since the initial PFL bill was signed into law back in 2016, it has given single mothers, working parents and military personnel financial security and job protection dealing with a serious personal matter, while minimizing the negative effect on small businesses. Now siblings will be afforded the same benefit,” said Addabbo.  

The law will go into effect on January 1, 2023.