Political Odds & Ends, Dec. 23, 2021


Solages Advocates for the Children and Families Reinvestment Act 

Assemblymember Michaelle Solages

Assemblymember Michaelle Solages (D-Long Island), the Deputy Majority Leader and Chair of the State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian BPHA) Legislative Caucus, yesterday urged Gov. Kathy Hochul to include funding in the 2022-23 Executive State Budget towards the Children and Families Reinvestment Act.

Solages said the allocation would provide additional support to chronically underfunded existing children and families related programs, establish a new flexible funding stream to support innovative approaches to child wellbeing and position New York as a national leader, and fund universal childcare in New York.

Solages noted recent increased rates of childhood trauma brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic – including increases in parental/caregiver deaths, compromised health, and deepened economic security – as primary concerns for the urgency behind why she is advocating for this new plan.

“As the pandemic continues to harm the children and families across our state, there has never been a greater need to fully fund programs that will lessen and prevent Adverse Childhood Experiences. Our state is facing a childcare crisis, and I am proud to be supporting the Children and Families Reinvestment Act, which will provide childcare to every child in New York State,” said Solages.

Hochul Signs Legislation Supporting Bars, Restaurants, Breweries and other Small Biz

Governor Kathy Hochul

Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a legislative package yesterday removing red tape and assisting new bars, restaurants and other alcoholic beverage businesses to open more quickly. 

Legislation (S.2743/A.3909) allows for temporary retail permits to be issued for bars and restaurants opening in New York City, putting these businesses on the same footing as businesses in the rest of the state. 

Legislation (S.6256-A/A.7757) allows for new temporary manufacturing permits to be granted for New York wineries, breweries, cideries, and distilleries that are awaiting final approval on their manufacturing license, so they can operate and serve customers while their full application is pending.   

“Let’s raise a glass to the terrific bars, restaurants, breweries and other small businesses that are a vital part of New York’s economy,” said Hochul. “As we continue to fight the pandemic, we also need to make sure we protect our economy, and this legislation will cut red tape and bring more customers in the door as quickly as possible to help small businesses get back on their feet.” 

Colton Attends 62nd Precinct Police Luncheon

Assemblymember William Colton

Assemblyman William Colton (D-Brooklyn) on Tuesday attended a police luncheon at the 62 Precinct. 

Dr. Gary Chen and his wife Dr. Hongshu Feng who both practice in the Bensonhurst neighborhood organized the event to show community support and appreciation of local police.

“I, together with community leaders Tim Law and Angel Wu, have joined Dr. Chen in sponsoring this special luncheon. The officers seemed very pleased at this community show of support and recognition of their good work. It is important we all come together and recognize our police officers who are working every day risking their lives to keep our families safe. This was an amazing celebration including great food,” said Colton.  

“In these difficult times in which we are still coping with the COVID crisis, we celebrate Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, and the coming New Year. Hopefully, New Year will bring us a new beginning. I wish all the officers a safe, blessed, and healthy holiday season,” he added.

Clarke, Maloney, AOC Call for Evaluation of Peaker Power Plant Pollution

U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke
U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney 
U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

U.S. Reps. Yvette D. Clarke (D-Brooklyn), Carolyn B. Maloney (D-Manhattan/Queens/Brooklyn) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Queens/Bronx) yesterday sent a letter to Comptroller General Gene L. Dodaro, head of the Government Accountability Office (GAO), requesting that GAO examine ​the impact of peaker power plant pollution on frontline communities and evaluate replacement strategies. 

Peaker plants, which burn dirty fuel when electricity demand peaks, are less efficient and more expensive than typical baseload power plants, and are more likely to be located in low-income neighborhoods and in communities of color. Millions of Americans across the country live near peaker plants. New York City alone has 89 peaker units, including 49 in Clarke’s home borough of Brooklyn​, 28 in the vicinity of Maloney’s district​, and 16 in Ocasio-Cortez’s district.

“Addressing the use of peaker plants, which can emit twice the carbon and up to 20 times the nitrous oxides of a typical plant while operating significantly less efficiently, represents a high-impact opportunity to reduce climate risks and tackle a life-threatening environmental justice issue,” wrote the Members. “We request GAO’s assistance in reporting on key data to assess damage, uncover health burdens, calculate economic costs, and identify alternative solutions to the use of peaker power plants.”

In their letter, the Congressmembers underscore that GAO’s evaluation will be critical ​to expose the health burdens associated with peaker power plants, calculate economic costs, and identify ​equitable alternatives to ​meet peak electricity demand.

In July 2021, the Committee on Oversight and Reform held a hearing on President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, a key White House environmental justice policy. One expert testified that 3,000 deaths per year in New York City are attributable to particulate matter and that peaker plant pollution is among the primary culprits.

Cymbrowitz’ Legislation Combating Housing Discrimination Signed into Law 

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn), chair of the Assembly Housing Committee, announced that Gov. Kathy Hochul signed his package of bills to combat housing discrimination. 

Cymbrowitz’ legislation (A.5428-A) requires all state and local agencies that administer housing programs, or which enforce housing laws that receive state funding, to affirmatively further fair housing. The legislation was sponsored in the State Senate by Senate Housing Committee Chair Brian Kavanagh (D-Manhattan). 

“Housing discrimination has historically pervaded state agencies and towns, cities,  and villages across New York and across the country. Communities are still reeling from the devastating effects of decades-long discriminatory practices including redlining and disinvestment in communities,” said Cymbrowitz. 

“By creating an obligation to affirmatively further fair housing for all state agencies and localities administering housing-related programs and laws, we will ensure not only that  New York will no longer participate in harmful, discriminatory practices but that the state will actively seek to create more diverse, inclusive communities,” the lawmaker added.  

Under the legislation, which amends the public housing law, covered housing agencies will be required to take meaningful steps to further fair housing, such as identifying and overcoming patterns of segregation, eradicating racially or ethnically concentrated areas of poverty, reducing disparities in access to opportunity, and eliminating disproportionate housing needs. 

Also included in the bill package was A.6866, establishing an Anti-Discrimination in Housing Fund; A.5363, adding a surcharge to licensing and re-licensing fees for real estate brokers and salespersons to be used for statewide fair housing efforts; A.5359, increasing required trainings for real estate professionals, particularly trainings related to fair housing;  A.4638-A, requiring additional training relating to implicit bias for real estate brokers and salespersons as part of their license renewal process; A.844-A, requiring cultural competency training for real estate brokers or salespersons; A.6186, requiring standardized intake procedures for real estate professionals; A.6355, requiring associate brokers serving as office managers to first supervise other real estate professionals; and A.2300-C, establishing a dedicated telephone line for housing discrimination complaints.