Lawmakers on the Move, Jan. 26, 2022

Lawmakers, prescription drugs

Gillibrand, Colleagues Urge Biden Administration to Distribute More Rent Relief for Low-Income Renters

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) yesterday joined seven of her colleagues in urging the Biden administration to reallocate funding from the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) Program to assist low-income renters. 

The letter sent to the administration follows the end of New York’s eviction moratorium and requests that unspent ERA funds be distributed as quickly as possible to communities facing the greatest need, including those where a large portion of renters pay over 50% of their income in rent or have lost their jobs since the beginning of the pandemic. 

“New York’s housing costs are some of the highest in the nation. After the end of the state’s eviction moratorium, too many New Yorkers are at risk of falling behind on their rent and losing their homes,” said Gillibrand. “Particularly as we continue to battle the Omicron variant, housing insecurity poses a serious threat to the health and well-being of our communities. I urge the Biden administration to immediately redirect unspent rental assistance funds to where they are needed most.”

The letter was also signed by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senators Alex Padilla (D-CA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and Cory Booker (D-NJ).

Kaplan Legislation Helping Small Businesses and Workers Recover From Pandemic Passes Senate

State Sen. Anna Kaplan

State Sen. Anna M. Kaplan (D-Long Island) announced yesterday that the Senate passed her legislation to support small businesses and unemployed workers who are still dealing with the impacts of the pandemic. 

The bill, S.6791A, freezes increases in the unemployment insurance taxes that businesses pay for the 2022 and 2023 fiscal year, preventing a previously scheduled tax hike from taking effect. 

Additionally, the legislation will increase the maximum unemployment benefit for workers who have lost their jobs by up to 10.5%. Passage of the bill is Kaplan’s latest effort to address the looming threat of rising unemployment insurance taxes that could cripple small businesses across the state and potentially cause untold layoffs.

“So many of our State’s small businesses barely survived the challenges of the pandemic, and if we allow them to be hit with massive increases in their payroll taxes, many will be forced to close their doors for good. Our long-term economic recovery depends on the success of our small businesses, so I introduced legislation to give them a break by cutting the unemployment tax rate that they pay for each employee, and I’m leading the charge to replenish the State’s unemployment insurance trust fund with a significant allocation in the State budget,” said Kaplan.

“At the same time, we can’t forget about workers who lost their jobs due to the pandemic and who rely on unemployment insurance benefits to make ends meet, so I’m proud that my legislation will deliver a meaningful increase in weekly benefits to help them during these challenging times,” the lawmaker added.

Malliotakis Introduces Crime Doesn’t Fly Act

U.S. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis. 

U.S. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island, Brooklyn) yesterday introduced the Crime Doesn’t Fly Act, legislation that prohibits the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) from accepting warrants for the arrest or deportation of illegal immigrants as valid proof of identification at aviation security checkpoints. 

Last week TSA confirmed in a letter to Congress that the agency is accepting illegal immigrant arrest warrants as valid forms of identification.

“If we learned anything from the September 11 attacks, it’s that our federal agencies must be diligent in screening passengers to ensure those flying don’t pose a terrorist or criminal threat to themselves or other passengers on board,” said Malliotakis. “Allowing illegal immigrants, particularly those with arrest and deportation warrants, to board domestic or international flights is a public safety and national security risk of the highest extreme and against the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. My legislation ensures those actively wanted by law enforcement don’t fly. Instead of aiding and abetting criminals, TSA should be turning these fugitives into the nearest law enforcement facility.”

Rozic Spearheads Assembly Holocaust Remembrance Day Resolution

Assembly Member Nily Rozic

Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Queens) spoke on the New York State Assembly Resolution commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day which she authored. 

The resolution recognizes the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust on the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp. The date was established by the United Nations General Assembly as International Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2005.

“Holocaust Remembrance Day ensures that we remember a painful past and ‘never forget’ the horrors of the Holocaust. Even today, we need to give New Yorkers the necessary tools to combat Holocaust distortion and trivialization, recognizing its connection to the antisemitism affecting Jewish communities,” said Rozic. “We have a communal responsibility to speak out on behalf of the oppressed and denounce antisemitism and intolerance in all its manifestations.”

Rozic has led efforts to secure funding in the New York State Budget to provide social services and programming for Holocaust survivors across New York. Rozic also sponsors state legislation to ensure the Holocaust is adequately taught in New York schools’ curriculum, in compliance with the existing requirements.

Gottfried’s Coverage For All Legislation Moves out of Health Committee

Assemblymember Richard Gottfried (photo provided by Matthew Tighe)
Assemblymember Richard Gottfried 

Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried (D-Manhattan), chair of the Assembly Health Committee, saw his Coverage For All bill (A880) get out of committee this week and get sent to the Codes Committee. 

Coverage For All is legislation that would create a state-funded health coverage option for New Yorkers up to 200% of the federal poverty line regardless of immigration status. 

Last week, Governor Hochul released her official executive budget proposal, which left out healthcare coverage for thousands of immigrant New Yorkers. In response, the New York Immigration Coalition launched a broadcast and digital ad campaign calling on New Yorkers to tell their elected officials to pass Coverage for All. 

In recent weeks, the legislation has been endorsed by the New York State Conference of Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans and the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus. 

“No New Yorker should be denied health care because of immigration status,” said Gottfried.  “New York should be a progressive leader in promoting health equity. Expanding health coverage to undocumented adults is good fiscal and moral policy and I hope we can advance Coverage for All in this year’s budget.”

“Every step we take to expand healthcare coverage in our state will make New Yorkers healthier,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera (D-Bronx), chairman of the Senate Health Committee and the bill’s Senate sponsor. “It is critical that we expand the Essential Plan,  to ensure low-income immigrant New Yorkers, who have struggled tremendously during this pandemic, have access to the care they need.”

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