NY Lawmakers on the Move, Feb. 10, 2022

Lawmakers on the Move

Stavisky Co-Chairs Joint Legislative Budget Hearing on Higher Education

State Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky

Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Queens, chairwoman of the Senate Higher Education Committee, this week participated in a joint legislative budget hearing on higher education for the 2022-23 fiscal year. 

Joined by members of the Senate and Assembly Higher Education and Finance Committees, Senator Stavisky heard testimony from nearly thirty administrators and advocates, including the SUNY Interim Chancellor Deborah Stanley, CUNY Chancellor Felix Matos Rodriguez and State Education Commissioner Betty Rosa. During the nearly eight hours of testimony, committee members were presented with many of the obstacles facing students and administrators across the state in a post pandemic world, as well as record increases in funding. 

“The $1.5 billion increase in operating aid for CUNY and SUNY is an investment in our students’ future,” says Senator Stavisky. “After years of budget cut proposals, it is refreshing to talk about operating support, investing in opportunity programs, eliminating the TAP Gap and so many other programs.” 

Gianaris Calls for Investigation into Utility Bill Increase

Senator Michael Gianaris

Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris (D-Queens) this week called on the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) to investigate recent spiked supply costs for Consolidated Edison customers in New York City. 

Gianaris, whose office has been flooded by concerned residents, says some customers’ bills have increased by up to 300%. In addition to urging the PSC to investigate, Gianaris is once again calling for a public power option for New Yorkers. 

“These skyrocketing, unexpected costs are hurting New Yorkers’ pockets at an already difficult time. Con Ed needs to answer for this change and help make customers whole,” said Gianaris. “Con Ed’s poor explanations and concerning performance once again show the need for New Yorkers to have public power.” 

Gianaris has been a long-time supporter of public power, authoring an op-ed in 2021 about the need for more publicly-owned renewable energy sources. He has also  been active on PSC reform, pushing the state’s utility regulator to be focused on consumers, rather than corporate needs. 

Gillibrand, Velázquez Push for More Funding to Puerto Rico

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens) yesterday pushed for $1 billion in critical supplemental nutrition assistance for Puerto Rico in the final FY22 appropriations package. 

While Americans living in Puerto Rico have access to the Nutrition Assistance Program (NAP), they do not have access to the same federal assistance to combat food insecurity that is available to individuals in the continental United States, further exacerbating a hunger crisis compounded by the economic crisis, hurricane devastation, and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Gillibrand previously helped pass funds in the American Rescue Plan (ARP) that allowed Puerto Rico to supplement the Nutrition Assistance Program (NAP) block grant funding, but the additional funding that was granted through ARP will be expended by June 2022. This additional $1 billion in NAP funding would target the long-term recovery needed for communities in Puerto Rico by making funds available through September 30, 2023.  

“Far too many of our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico are facing hunger due to the pandemic’s devastating impact on supply chains and Puerto Rico’s economy. To meet the moment, we must allocate meaningful federal relief for families struggling to keep themselves healthy and fed,” said Gillibrand. 

“Over the past few years, Puerto Ricans have been hit with one life-altering crisis after another from deadly hurricanes to the health and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Velázquez. “This reality makes it even more indefensible that they continue to be excluded from receiving SNAP benefits. In light of this, we must do everything possible to ensure funds for nutritional assistance on the island are robust and sufficient to meet the urgent and sweeping need.”

Suffolk County Electeds Oppose Hochul’s Forced Apartment Plan 

Members of the County Legislature, Suffolk County Town Officials Association, and Suffolk County Village Officials Association will join together today to state their vehement and well-reasoned objection to Governor Hochul’s plans to automatically allow apartments in every single family home’s garage, basement, second floor or rear yard shed/garage – usurping the roles of Town and Village governments and effectively eliminating single family zoning. 

Hochul’s plan mandates that at least one “second” unit of living quarters must be permitted on lots that would otherwise be single-family home zoning. Doing so would lead to overcrowding, strain precious municipal resources, reduce property values and harm suburban quality of life. 

The rally against the plan is slated for 11 a.m., today, Feb. 10 at the Suffolk County Legislature William H. Rogers Building, 725 Veterans Memorial Highway in Hauppauge.

Maloney to Join Queensbridge Residents to Discuss Legislative Plan to Combat Gun Violence

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney

U.S. Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn) today will join Queensbridge Residents’ Association Leadership and gun safety reform advocates at Queensbridge Houses to discuss her legislative plan to combat gun violence, including the introduction of her Preventing Pretrial Gun Purchases Act.

The Preventing Pretrial Gun Purchases Act would amend federal gun laws to specifically include an individual’s pretrial status during the background check process.

The Act follows a legislative package of five bills focused on gun safety that Maloney introduced last year, which includes The Gun Trafficking and Crime Prevention Act, The Gun Show Loophole Closing Act, The NICS Review Act, The Firearm Risk Protection Act, and The Handgun Trigger Safety Act. 

On January 28, she joined Senator Gillibrand to re-introduce the Hadiya Pendleton and Nyasia Pryear-Yard Gun Trafficking and Crime Prevention Act making firearms trafficking a federal crime and impose stronger penalties for “straw purchasers” who buy guns for convicted felons and others who are prohibited from buying guns on their own.

The event is slated for 1 p.m., today, Feb. 10 at the Queensbridge Houses, in front of the Jacob Riis Neighborhood Settlement, 10-25 41st Ave. in Long Island City.