NY Lawmakers on the Move, Feb. 9, 2022

Lawmakers on the Move

Clarke urges IRS to Halt Facial Recognition Technology Plan

U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke

U.S. Reps. Yvette D. Clarke (D-Brooklyn), Ted W. Lieu (D-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), this week sent a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig urging the IRS to halt its plan to employ facial recognition technology and consult with a wide variety of stakeholders before deciding on an alternative. 

The letter comes as the IRS plans to require anyone seeking to access their records on the IRS website to provide images of their driver’s license, state-issued ID, or passport and take a live video of their face so ID.me, a private contractor, can confirm their identity. The Congressmembers cite concerns related to cybersecurity, accuracy and bias issues, and the lack of transparency in the IRS’s contract with ID.me and the company itself.

“The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) plays a crucial role in helping Americans understand their tax responsibilities and enforcing the law with integrity and fairness for all. We write to you with great concern regarding the IRS’s plan to employ face recognition software requiring millions of Americans to have their face scanned by a private contractor. Any government agency operating a face recognition technology system – or contracting with a third party – creates potential risks of privacy violations and abuse. We urge the IRS to halt this plan and consult with a wide variety of stakeholders before deciding on an alternative,” the Congressmembers wrote.

For the full text of the letter click here.

Schumer Talks Up Perry As Nominee For Ambassador To Jamaica

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer
Nick Perry
Assemblymember Nick Perry

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) yesterday delivered remarks at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee introducing longtime Assembly Member Nick Perry (D-Brooklyn) as nominee for Ambassador to Jamaica.

“It is my honor to introduce a proud New Yorker, a dear and longtime friend, we’ve known each other for 30 years, and fellow Brooklynite, Nick Perry to serve as the next U.S. Ambassador to Jamaica. I worked hard to make sure President Biden named Nick for this post, and I am glad to finally be here introducing him to the committee,” said Schumer.

“…Nick Perry [is] not only an outstanding nominee because of his qualifications and who he is, but an exceedingly fitting nominee to serve as our next Ambassador to Jamaica.

“He is a native of the island and Nick Perry would be the first-ever Jamaican-born person to serve as its American Ambassador. It is truly an important milestone, one that I would add is long, long overdue.

“Back home, Assemblyman Perry is a well-known face in the community. He has a knack for doing politics the old-fashioned way: shaking hands, showing up at every event, and just listening to people from everyday life. Nick is an immigrant, he is a veteran, and a lifelong public servant, and he represents the best of what America is all about. I am certain that Nick will be a wonderful Ambassador to Jamaica.”

Addabbo Attends Virtual Meeting with NYC Schools Chancellor Banks

State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr.

State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. (D-Queens) and the rest of the state legislature this month met virtually with education advocates from throughout the state, including New York City Schools Chancellor David C. Banks, to discuss the educational portion of the Governor’s Executive Budget.  

Last year, the State was able to procure additional Foundation Aid funding in the sum of more than $1 billion for NYC, as well as funding through the American Rescue Plan Act. Addabbo looks to continue this funding into this year. 

An additional revenue stream for New York’s schools will be coming now that mobile sports betting is legal in the state. Before COVID impacted all aspects of life, the gaming industry was responsible for bringing in more than $3 billion in funding for education each year. With the advent of mobile sports betting and New York breaking a national record with $1.6 billion for a month of betting wagers, that number is sure to increase and give schools even more funding. 

“There are more funding streams going to New York’s educational department than ever before. All of this money will do wonders for students across the state,” said Addabbo, a member of the Senate Education Committee. “However, it is not always how much money we have available, but it is more important how that money is spent. We have to ensure that the programs that have been working continue to receive funding, and look to reevaluate things that are not working to their best potential.” 

Malliotakis Introduces Bill to Bar Racial & Ethnic Discrimination in COVID-19 Treatment Access

U.S. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis. Photo from her Congressional website.

U.S. Reps. Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn), Rodney Davis (R-IL), and Andrew Garbarino (R-NY) this week introduced the Equal Access to Therapeutics Act, legislation that requires the federal government to ensure the equitable distribution of COVID-19 therapeutic treatments.

This bill comes in response to several states, including New York City and State, implementing guidance and scoring systems that make eligibility for COVID-19 monoclonal antibody treatments and therapeutics based on the race or ethnicity of a patient.

Additionally, FDA has issued guidance regarding Sotrovimab, a treatment for mild-to-moderate COVID-19, alluding to race and ethnicity as a risk factor for severe progression, and therefore contributing to eligibility for use of the treatments which contributed to the guidance issued by some states and hospitals.

“New York City and State’s decision to allocate therapeutic treatments by race rather than an individual’s medical condition is wrong,” said Malliotakis. “Allocation and administration of these life-saving treatments should be based solely on an individual’s health needs. I’m proud to join Congressman Davis and my colleagues in introducing legislation that would require the federal government to ensure states are distributing these treatments in an equitable manner.”

More specifically, the Equal Access to Therapeutics Act restricts the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) from issuing, implementing, or continuing to have in effect any guidance intended to restrict access to COVID-19 monoclonal antibody therapies and other treatments based on the race or ethnicity of a patient; holds the Secretary of HHS personally liable for the death of any individual who is denied access to the treatments based on race or ethnicity; and prohibits federal funding to hospitals and healthcare providers who restrict access to these treatments based on race or ethnicity. 

Williams, Lee elected Queens Delegation Co-Chairs 

City Council Member Nantasha Williams
City Council Member Susan Lee.

New York City Council Members Nantasha Williams (D- St. Albans) and Linda Lee (D- Oakland Gardens) announced this week their winning election by their colleagues to serve as Co-Chairs of the Queens Delegation of the New York City Council.

“I am so proud to be chosen by my colleagues to serve as Co-Chair for the Queens Delegation alongside Council Member Nantasha Williams,” said Lee. “In Queens, we find strength in our unity and our diversity. Throughout the borough we have so many different communities, priorities, and needs, yet we recognize that we can only achieve these things by working together. As Co-Chair of this delegation, I promise to lead with fairness, open-mindedness, and equity for all, and will cherish the trust placed in me by my colleagues.”

“It’s with great honor to serve as Co-Chair for the Queens Delegation alongside my neighbor and colleague Council Member Linda Lee,” said Williams. “Working together will strengthen our district bonds and showcase the importance of partnership and diversity presented in our districts. I believe in an equitable distribution of funds for all districts and finding common ground within the delegation while respecting our differences and respective decisions. I am committed to collaboration to help bring change to our communities and eager to foster relationships with my colleagues in government as Co-Chair of the Queens Delegation.”

Williams and Lee will succeed former Council Member Karen Koslowitz who chaired the delegation from 2015-2021.