NY Lawmakers on the Move Jan. 31, 2022

Lawmakers on the Move

Ramos Hard Work Pays Off for Farmworkers

State Sen. Jessica Ramos

State Sen. Jessica Ramos (D-Queens) announced Friday that following weeks of testimony to the Farm Laborers Wage Board, a path to lower the overtime threshold to 40 hours/week has finally been established. 

“In my freshman year in the Senate, I inherited the Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act. A piece of legislation that had never had a Senate hearing, and had been passed from Senator to Senator. I was the 7th Senator to carry the bill, and I vowed to be the last,” said Ramos in a statement.. 

“In my campaign for its passage, I visited dozens of farms in more than eight counties and spoke to hundreds of workers and farmers throughout the state. Through the historic passage of that legislation, the Department of Labor established a wage board that brings farmers and their employees to the table. The workers at Pindar Vineyards in Nassau County have organized the first union in New York’s history with RWDSU Local 338. Throughout the pandemic, the agricultural industry and labor of this workforce kept New Yorkers fed. We have a moral obligation to these workers.

“The people who do this work are not disposable, and their labor is not their only purpose in life. They are human beings who deserve time and pay that allows for a full life. This path to 40 is a recognition of their humanity.”

The policy approved by the wage board scales back the working hours from 60 to 40 hours/week over a ten-year period. The phase-in schedule will begin in 2024 with a 56/hour week, per the Department of Labor’s website.

Velázquez Announces Funding for New York and New Jersey Harbor Study

Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (Photo Credit: ballotpedia.org)
U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez

U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn) and U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) announced Friday that under the Disaster Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, the federal government will award the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) $6,724,000 to support the New York and New Jersey Harbor and Tributaries focus area study. 

This announcement follows a request last year by Velázquez and Pascrell to the USACE regarding the reprogramming of funds to the New York-New Jersey Harbor and Tributaries in order to protect tristate communities in the aftermath of the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy.

“I’m extremely pleased that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been awarded the funds to study how we can better protect our communities from extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy,” said Velázquez. “This funding will help identify the best methods for navigation, storm damage reduction, environmental restoration, coastal resiliency, and flood and storm damage reduction. Until we take serious steps to combat the climate crisis, we must proactively protect our communities from its devastating effects.”

Kaplan Urges Health Department to Remove Fake COVID Vaccination Data 

State Sen. Anna Kaplan

State Sen. Anna M. Kaplan (D-Long Island) last week sent a letter to New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett inquiring about existing procedures to protect the State’s immunization database from fraud, and urging further action to protect public health. 

The inquiry follows recent reporting of a shocking $1.5 million fraud operation alleged on Long Island that potentially resulted in thousands of false entries being entered into the State database.

“The reports out of Amityville this week are absolutely shocking, that two licensed medical professionals were running what amounts to a “vaxx card mill” out of their medical office, and allegedly profiting over a million dollars by defrauding our community and putting public health at risk. Ensuring the validity of records proving vaccination status is vital to protecting New York families from preventable illness and avoiding an unnecessary protraction of the pandemic. We must do everything we can to combat this fraud on our community, and today, I’m urging the State Department of Health to do more,” Kaplan wrote.

The letter seeks to ensure that fraudulent data is being removed from government databases in instances where it has been determined that no actual vaccination was given. The letter also seeks more information about the State’s efforts to proactively combat the problem of fraudulent vaccination records, and the capabilities of the Excelsior Pass system to revoke passes issued to those engaging in this unlawful conduct.

Maloney Unveils Legislation to Stop the Permitting of Dangerous Sources of Pollution 

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney

U.S. Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn) today will stand with NYCHA Residents’ Association Leadership and environmental justice advocates to unveil the Justice in Power Plant Permitting Act.

The legislation advances the equitable transition to a clean energy economy by preventing the permitting of major sources of pollution that cause harm to communities, like fossil fuel-fired power plants such as Ravenswood Generating Station. The legislation would also stop the permitting of other fossil fuel-fired sources within one mile of a major source if the combined effects of the area’s air polluters would cause harm to the health and well-being of local communities. 

To replace dirty and harmful energy generation, the bill includes a Just Energy Transition Fund for clean energy projects that support workers and environmental justice.  Finally, the bill ensures the federal government is a partner in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and hazardous air pollutants by requiring 100% renewable, air pollution-free energy use by 2030.

The introduction of the legislation event is slated for 10 a.m., today, Jan. 31 at Vernon Boulevard & 40th Avenue (across from Ravenswood Generating Station) in Queens.