Lawmakers on the Move, Jan. 10, 2021

Meng Introduces Bill to Allow SNAP to Cover Hot and Prepared Foods

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng

U.S. Reps. Grace Meng (D-Queens), Bobby Rush (D-IL), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) last week introduced the bipartisan SNAP PLUS Act (H.R. 6338), a bill that would allow Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to be used to purchase hot foods and certain prepared foods, which are currently not covered by SNAP. 

Approximately 40.8 million Americans rely on SNAP benefits, according to the most recent public data.

“Like so many issues, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated many existing inequalities – but especially food insecurity,” said Meng. “The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a first line of defense in protecting Americans. However, SNAP benefits cannot be used to purchase hot and prepared foods. This arbitrary restriction burdens families and precludes options, like a rotisserie chicken, that provides healthy meal alternatives. All families deserve the right to make the best choices for their families – including the decision to purchase hot and prepared foods. I am honored to partner with my colleagues, Reps. Rush and Fitzpatrick, in ensuring that SNAP beneficiaries have the flexibility they need to make the best dietary choices for themselves.”

The proposed legislation has been referred to the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight, and Department Operations.

Espaillat to Host Virtual Roundtable Addressing Student Loan Debt

U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat
U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat

U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-Manhattan/Bronx) on Friday will host a virtual roundtable to address student loan debt and will continue his call to encourage the Biden-Harris administration to cancel student loan debt for millions of American households. 

During the discussion, Espaillat will be joined by representatives from the Education Debt Consumer Assistance Program (EDCAP), the Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC), and local community leaders to discuss the impact of student loan debt, cancellation, and updates on the federal student loan moratorium and repayments.

The virtual roundtable is slated for 4 p.m., Friday, Jan. 14. It will be livestreamed on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RepEspaillat.

QBP Richards, Queens Borough Board Hear COVID-19 Update, Urban Design Presentation

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards today will chair a Queens Borough Board meeting to hear an update from NYC Test & Trace Corps and the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on the COVID-19 situation currently facing New York City. 

Data on the transmission of the COVID-19 virus will be presented, along with updates on the City’s efforts to encourage people to get vaccinated against the disease and tested for possible exposure.

The meeting will also include a presentation from the New York City Department of City Planning on the principles of good urban design.

This meeting will be conducted virtually with Borough Board members participating via videoconference. 

The meeting is slated for today, Jan. 10 at 5 p.m. The meeting will also be live-streamed to the public on the Borough President’s website at www.queensbp.org.

McDonough Hopes for More Bipartisanship in Albany

Assemblyman Dave McDonough

Assemblyman Dave McDonough (R-Long Island) responded to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s State of the State speech last week with a call for more bipartisanship.

“Looking back at the State of the State Address, Gov. Hochul left many New Yorkers scratching their heads searching for answers. She missed an opportunity to answer many of the questions on our minds. The governor failed to address the unsafe surge in crime. We need to focus on protecting our communities by addressing the faults of bail reform and returning discretion to our judges,” said McDonough.

“Our small businesses are struggling after being crippled by burdensome mandates. It is time to move toward a recovery and allow our businesses to prosper. Health care workers need our help; we must bring back the healthcare workers who lost their jobs due to unnecessary mandates. It is time to work in a bipartisan manner to truly move New York forward and address the pressing issues we are currently facing,” he added.

Nine Nassau State Legislators Slam Blakeman’s Call to End Mask Mandate

State Sen. Anna Kaplan

Nine Democratic State lawmakers from Nassau County on Friday slammed newly-elected Republican Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman for saying last week he will defy Governor Kathy Hochul’s statewide mask mandates, halting enforcement for indoor venues while calling on individual school boards to craft their own policies about-face coverings.

“We don’t need people in Albany telling us what we should be doing in Nassau County,” Blakeman said at a press conference Thursday. “The message is: the wearing of masks is optional.”

But Democrats representing the county including Senators Todd Kaminsky, Anna Kaplan, Kevin Thomas, Jim Gaughran and John Brooks along with Assembly Members Michaelle Solages, Chuck Lavine, Judy Griffin, Taylor Darling, and Gina Sillitti slammed Blakeman for defying Hochul’s mandate.

“Over the past two years, 3,435 of our friends, neighbors and loved ones in Nassau County have died from COVID-19. We are grateful Governor Hochul has required the simple precaution of masks in schools to keep our schools open and our kids safe. At this point in the pandemic, when pediatric hospitalizations are spiking at dangerous levels, it would be the height of irresponsibility to ignore Governor Hochul’s vital efforts to protect public health,” said the lawmakers in a joint statement. 

“We are confident the school districts of Nassau County will continue acting responsibly in the coming days, as they had no input in the County Executive’s actions. For the sake of our children, teachers, and school personnel, County Executive Blakeman must immediately rescind his irresponsible and clearly unlawful executive order.”

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