NY Lawmakers on the Move, Feb. 7, 2022

Lawmakers on the Move

Schumer Pushes for Federal Legalization of Marijuana 

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), members of the New York Congressional Delegation and coalition organizations, who helped pass New York’s Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, reiterated their call for comprehensive, equity-driven marijuana legalization through Congress. 

They highlighted the successful passage of the MRTA as a model for how comprehensive legalization can address the harms of the War on Drugs and set up a market that allows small businesses to flourish. Schumer and advocates called attention to the ways in which the federal War on Drugs continues to harm New Yorkers despite legalization in NYS.

“Across the country, too many are still ensnared by absurd punitive action for marijuana use. And right here in New York, and we’re going to hear about it, despite legalization, New Yorkers are still impacted every day by the federal prohibition. High stakes housing decisions, immigration issues, access to federal funding are warped and blocked by the federal prohibition. So that’s why we are focused on delivering comprehensive reform at the federal level just as New York has done. Plain and simple,” said Schumer.

“And we need reform that actually deals with racial and economic justice, and critically to make sure the big corporations, the alcohol, the tobacco and others, don’t squeak in and overwhelm the market and control it from the beginning. We want the communities that were hurt most to benefit most, and small businesses in those communities to be able to take advantage when the law is legalized federally as they can now in New York,” he added.

AOC Bill Supporting Debt Relief for Developing Countries Passes House

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Queens, Bronx) Friday announced House passage of her legislation to support debt relief for developing countries as part of the larger COMPETES Act

The overall legislation strengthens the G-20’s Common Framework, a multilateral debt relief initiative, to reflect the challenges countries have faced during the pandemic. Critically, the legislation also places a moratorium on debt payments for countries that are applying to be part of the Common Framework.

“Developing nations whose early economies and political systems were crippled by colonialism and foreign intervention deserve a real opportunity to compete – to build independent, sustainable economies, unburdened by impossible levels of debt,” said Ocasio-Cortez in a statement.  “This bill will also have benefits at home as well as overseas. The race-to-the-bottom for wages that has cost the U.S. so many manufacturing jobs is driven by the economic vulnerability of developing nations.  We can’t have a healthy, competitive global economy, as long as the whims of a handful of nations dictate the financial stability of the rest of the world.”

In addition to this bill, the COMPETES Act also included an amendment from Ocasio-Cortez, which prevents companies from using any of the $52 billion in federal incentives allocated to produce semiconductors from being used on stock buybacks or the payment of dividends to shareholders. The goal is to ensure that federal funding is actually used to incentivize the production of critical goods, rather than being used to enrich corporate executives. 

QBP Richards Hears from Civilian Complaint Review Board, Stands with NYCHA Residents

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. today will stand with tenants of the New York City Housing Authority’s (NYCHA) Carleton Manor development in Arverne, who are entering their fourth month without hot water, 

In a press conference outside the development, he will demand NYCHA not charge tenants rent until the unacceptable hot water outage is rectified in totality for every apartment plus at least an additional four months, matching the length of time some residents have lacked hot water.

Joining with Borough President Richards at Monday’s press conference to detail the crisis and amplify the demand for rent forgiveness for tenants through at least May 2022 will be local elected officials, current and former tenant association leadership and Carleton Manor residents.

The event is slated for 1 p.m., today, Feb. 7 at the NYCHA Carleton Manor, 74-15 Beach Channel Drive in Arverne.

Then later in the day, Donovan will chair the Queens Borough Board where they hear a presentation from the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB), an independent agency empowered to receive, investigate, mediate, hear, make findings and recommend action on allegations of misconduct against New York City police officers.

The meeting will also include a presentation from supporters of a proposed resolution that calls for the landlords of existing and new apartment residential units to transition to a smoke-free apartment policy.

This meeting is slated for 5:30 and will be conducted virtually with Borough Board members participating via videoconference. The meeting will also be live-streamed to the public on the Borough President’s website at www.queensbp.org.

Hochul Urges New Yorkers to E-File for all Max Tax Benefits

Governor Kathy Hochul

Governor Kathy Hochul Friday encouraged New Yorkers to take advantage of Free File software, which can help millions of taxpayers claim valuable tax credits without the cost of hiring a paid tax preparer. 

The software provides savings as well as puts money directly in your pocket by ensuring you claim the credits you deserve, including the earned income tax credit (EITC).

“In the wake of the pandemic, many working families have faced increased financial burdens, and I want to make sure all New Yorkers are taking advantage of the tax benefits that are available to them,” said Hochul. “The Free File program can help individuals claim all the tax credits they deserve while saving them save hundreds in tax-preparation costs. The earned income tax credits can add up to nearly $9,100 – increasing the spending power for those who need it most as we continue to rebuild and recover from COVID-19.” 

Most New Yorkers can file using Free File software, available at no-cost on the Tax Department website. If your 2021 household income is $73,000 or less, you can file both your federal and New York State returns at no cost through the Tax Department website using Free File. Nearly 255,000 taxpayers used this software last year, saving them a combined $51 million in tax preparation fees.