NY Lawmakers on the Move, Jan. 21, 2022

Lawmakers on the Move

Mayor Adams Receives First Paycheck in Cryptocurrency

Mayor Eric Adams

Mayor Eric Adams announced yesterday that when he receives his first paycheck as mayor today, it will be automatically converted into cryptocurrency, as previously promised. The salary will be converted to Ethereum and Bitcoin.

“New York is the center of the world, and we want it to be the center of cryptocurrency and other financial innovations,” said Adams. “Being on the forefront of such innovation will help us create jobs, improve our economy, and continue to be a magnet for talent from all over the globe.”

“From being the primary means by which we close both the digital and financial divide, technology continues to be the great equalizer, said New York City Chief Technology Officer Matt Fraser. “This step taken by the mayor provides a leading example of how we can empower people through tech with a more diverse set of options to manage their finances.”

Last November, Adams announced he would accept his first three paychecks in cryptocurrency. Due to U.S. Department of Labor regulations, New York City cannot pay employees in cryptocurrency. By using a cryptocurrency exchange, anyone paid in U.S. dollars can have funds converted into cryptocurrency before funds are deposited into their account.

Maloney Announces New Legislation in Response to TransDigm’s Price Gouging on DOD Contracts

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney

U.S. Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn), chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, yesterday released a discussion draft of the Fair Pricing with Cost Transparency Act, legislation to ensure the government is paying a fair price on products and services from contractors like TransDigm.

The measure is in reaction to the committee examining excess profits TransDigm Group Inc. received from Department of Defense (DOD) contracts.

“Congress must act to empower contracting officers when they are negotiating with greedy contractors like TransDigm,” said Maloney. “I am releasing a discussion draft that would require companies to provide cost information when necessary to determine if proposed prices are fair and reasonable. This will enable government contracting officers to ensure the government is paying a fair price. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to work with me on this reform.”

The Fair Pricing with Cost Transparency Act is based on a proposal from the Department of Defense, highlighted in the Office of Inspector General’s recent report, which found that TransDigm received nearly $21 million in excess profits on numerous contracts by acquiring companies with sole-source contracts for spare parts needed by the military and then raising prices dramatically.

The proposed measure will require contractors to submit uncertified cost information if requested by a contracting officer and applies government-wide, including at DOD. Additionally, it requires agencies to report to Congress on compliance within 18 months of enactment. 

Meng Calls on IRS Head to Reduce Backlog of Tax Returns

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) announced yesterday that she urged the head of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to reduce the large backlog of tax returns that have affected millions of people including residents in Queens.

In a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, Meng and 81 other Members of Congress called for a plan to be created to efficiently and effectively process the backlog, and help with the hiring and training more taxpayer advocates – who assist taxpayers with questions and problems – since the delays have increased the number of inquiries that the Taxpayer Advocate Service has received.

The backlog has also included unemployment compensation, Child Tax Credit Payments and Economic Impact Payments. Meng has had 200 constituents that have been impacted by these delays in payments and tax returns.

“I understand the impact that the COVID-19 crisis has had in causing this backlog,” said Meng. “But Queens residents and those throughout New York should not be forced to endure increased wait times for their tax refunds and other payments. This is money that many constituents need during the pandemic, and they do not deserve to suffer financial strains or lose out because of the government’s delay. I urge the commissioner to immediately address this backlog.”

Suozzi: “Largest Ever Federal Investment for Bridge Repair on its way to New York”

U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi

U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D- Long Island, Queens) will hold a press conference today on Long Island’s Bayville Bridge to highlight the recently announced federal dollars from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Package.

As one of the lead negotiators in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Package, last week Suozzi announced that New York will receive $1.9 billion over 5 years and $37 million 8 for fiscal year 2022 in federal funds specifically targeted for bridge repairs.

The Bayville Bridge, built in 1939, is a crucial connection between Bayville and the rest of Nassau County for both residents and tourists. Plagued by malfunctions and disrepair for years, the bridge has been a symbol of the state’s crumbling infrastructure and an example of how federal dollars from the infrastructure package will fund its repair while creating jobs.

Suozzi will be joined at the press conference by Bayville Mayor Robert De Natale.

The event is slated for 11 a.m., today, Jan. 21 at the Bayville Bridge, West Shore Road on the Bayville side of the bridge.

Ramos, Gonzalez-Rojas call for Passage of Street Vendor Legislation

State Sen. Jessica Ramos
Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas

State Sen. Jessica Ramos (D-Queens) and Assembly Member Jessica González-Rojas (D-Queens) are calling for a prioritization of S1175A/A5081, which would formalize and regulate street vending in cities with a population of 1 million or more.

The call comes as Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Executive Budget outlines a proposed $1 billion for desperately-needed relief for small businesses – including one-time grants and tax incentives designed to reinvigorate small businesses and ensure they survive the COVID-19 pandemic. But Ramos and Gonzalez-Rojas argue that because of the limited number of vendor licenses issued in New York City, many of the micro-enterprises that sell food, produce, and goods are ineligible for the relief outlined in the Governor’s budget. 

“We know what a lack of licenses can mean for the small business owners who are working to provide for their families and communities. People of color who are answering the call to build and create are penalized and overpoliced because they lack the recognition that a business license grants them. Street Vending is as old as New York City, and it is in the interest of every consumer and business for this industry to be formalized,” said Ramos. “NYC has a Mayor who not only has a personal history with street vending but has signaled his support for Street Vendors and their ability to formalize their small businesses. The timing is right for this bill.”

“When Queens was enduring the worst of the pandemic, it was immigrant-owned street vending operations providing outdoor dining and shopping experiences that allowed many people in our neighborhoods to access what they needed. A5081 has been featured in the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus’ 2022 People’s Budget as a piece of legislation that is necessary for a just recovery. We need to pass A5081 to legalize street vending, bringing revenue back to our cities and state while honoring the valued contributions of immigrant entrepreneurs,” said González-Rojas.