NY Lawmakers on the Move March 15, 2022

Lawmakers on the Move

AG James, Hochul File Legal Action to Block New Jersey From Terminating Waterfront Commission 

Attorney General Letitia James
Kathy Hochul
Gov. Kathy Hochul

New York Attorney General Letitia James and Governor Kathy Hochul yesterday filed legal action in the United States Supreme Court to block New Jersey from terminating the Waterfront Commission created by New York and New Jersey for the port that the two states share. 

The complaint invokes the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction to seek a declaratory judgment and both preliminary and permanent injunctions to prohibit New Jersey from breaching the congressionally approved Waterfront Commission Compact between New York and New Jersey. 

New Jersey’s withdrawal would likely cause immediate and irreparable harm to New York, resulting in increased criminal activity, higher prices on incoming goods, and racial and gender inequities in hiring at the port.

“For decades, the Waterfront Commission has been a critical partnership to keep our ports and our communities safe,” said James. “New Jersey’s attempt to terminate this commission is unlawful, ill-advised, and infringes on our efforts to crack down on crime. This commission has long proved to be a necessary force to root out corruption and organized crime, and we will use every tool at our disposal to ensure its powers remain intact and our communities benefit from its important work.”

“Protecting the safety of New Yorkers and our vital industries is my top priority, and we cannot afford to lose the Waterfront Commission’s unique authority and expertise in combatting crime at our port,” said Hochul. “In light of current geopolitical uncertainty, the termination of the Waterfront Commission would cause immediate and irreparable harm to New York state, from increased crime to higher prices to employment inequities. It is our responsibility to New Yorkers to stop New Jersey’s unlawful actions and preserve the ongoing work of this law enforcement agency.”

The bi-state Waterfront Commission was created in 1953 to address organized crime at the port, which spans areas in both states.

Cymbrowitz Lauds Housing relief in Assembly FY ‘23 Budget Proposal

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn), chair of the Assembly Housing Committee, announced yesterday that the Assembly State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2022-23 budget proposal includes rent  and homeownership relief for New Yorkers affected by the pandemic, critically needed  funds for capital repairs at NYCHA developments, and a program to secure permanent  housing for those facing homelessness.

“Under the leadership of Speaker Carl Heastie, the Assembly has once again  demonstrated its commitment to making smart investments that put affordable housing  within reach for all New Yorkers,” said Cymbrowitz. “On top of continued  rental and mortgage relief, and much-needed capital funding for NYCHA, I am proud  that my Housing Access Voucher Program (HAVP) bill to help those who are homeless  or on the verge of homelessness get into reliable, affordable housing is included as part  of the budget.” 

Cymbrowitz noted New Yorkers are still feeling the financial strain of the COVID-19 pandemic, and  many were unable to pay their rent or their mortgages as a result. The Assembly budget  makes critical investments in rent and homeownership relief to help New Yorkers stay in  their homes, he said.

The Executive Budget allocated $2 billion for rent/homeownership relief, and the Assembly’s spending plan adds the following provisions:  

  • $1.25 billion would be allocated for the Emergency Rental Assistance  Program (ERAP);  
  • $500 million for a utility arrears program to be administered by the Public  Service Commission; 
  • $400 million for the Landlord Rental Assistance Program (LRAP);  • An additional $15 million for the Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP)  for a total of $35 million;  
  • $50 million for the Office of Storm Recovery, which helps homeowners  repair storm damage not covered by FEMA or insurance.

Sanders Calls State Senate One-House Budget Resolution the “Best Ever”

State Senator James Sanders Jr.

State Sen. James Sanders Jr. (D-Queens) called yesterday’s passage of the Senate’s one-house budget resolution the “best ever” and outlined the priorities the conference will set forth during budget negotiations with the Governor with hopes that they be included in the final state budget that must be passed by the April 1, 2022 deadline.

Sanders continues to work diligently to fight for the needs of his district and spearheaded numerous measures, which he believes are of major importance to the community. They include funding to support education as well as housing assistance.

Just some of the provisions that directly impact the 10th Senate District include:

  • The budget proposal provides up to $1 billion for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) and promotes fair distribution of pending federal dollars.
  • Restores $250 million in Landlord Rental Assistance Program (LRAP) funding, and adds an additional $250 million for LRAP.
  • Provides $250 million in new support for Universal Pre-Kindergarten with full phase-in of full day 4-year old pre-k in two years.
  • Keeps New York on track to fully phase in Foundation Aid by 2023-24 — the main source of state funding for public schools.
  • Provides $1 billion for assistance to financially distressed or safety net hospitals, like St. John’s Episcopal Hospital. 

Stavisky Lauds Senate Majority on Higher Education Funding

State Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky

State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Queens), chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Higher Education, yesterday lauded the State Senate’s One-House Budget, which included $1.1 billion in additional funding for CUNY and SUNY. 

This year’s Senate budget proposal would increase funding at CUNY by $500 million and SUNY by $600 million, creating a “New Deal” at both institutions.  This will allow for the hiring of more full time faculty and increase operating aid. 

Since becoming chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Higher Education, Stavisky has focused on reversing a decade’s worth of disinvestment and underfunding in CUNY and SUNY. 

“Over the last ten years, New York State has relied more and more on student tuition to fund higher education. In 2011, the State share of funding for CUNY and SUNY was 46%, last year it dropped to 32%, a reduction of 14%. CUNY is one the greatest economic mobility engines, uplifting low-income people into the middle class,” said Stavisky. “If we truly want to tackle income inequality, it begins with this investment in higher education.” 

Also included in the Senate proposal is Stavisky’s separate legislation to expand TAP to cover more middle class families. It would increase the income threshold from $80,000 to $110,000 and would raise the minimum award from $500 to $1,000. This budget would also expand the TAP award for part-time students.  

Meng, AOC Help Secure Visa for Grief-Stricken Son of Asian Woman Killed in Rock Attack

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng
U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

U.S. Reps. Grace Meng (D-Queens) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Queens/Bronx) announced yesterday that they helped secure a visa for the son of GuiYing Ma, the Queens resident who died last month after she was attacked in November while sweeping the sidewalk next to her home.

The two lawmakers helped obtain the visa for Yang Gao so that he can come to the U.S. from China to attend his mother’s funeral later this month. The exact date is still to be confirmed.

Ma, 62, died on February 22. She was struck in the head with a rock on November 26 while she was sweeping and had been at Elmhurst Hospital since the assault took place. She died just weeks after waking up from a comma. The suspect was arrested and indicted for the crime.

Meng joined Ma’s husband, Zhanxin Gao, and the family’s pro bono attorneys on March 1 to announce her death, and also called for continued efforts to combat the rise in anti-Asian hate and violence.

“We continue to be devastated over the passing of GuiYing Ma and our thoughts remain with her loved ones as they mourn her loss,” said Meng. “We thank the U.S. State Department for working with us and facilitating her son’s visa so that he can be with his father at this difficult time, and provide the emotional and physical support that is needed. Unfortunately, there are no words that can ease the pain they are experiencing. But we will continue to be here for them, and assist with any other needs that may arise.”

QBP Richards, Borough Cabinet Hear Police Accountability Presentations

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr., chair of the Bough Cabinet will convene a meeting today featuring a presentation from the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) about its efforts to promote police accountability and oversight. 

It will also include a presentation from the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) on the issuance of temporary permits to new liquor license applicants in New York City.

This meeting will be conducted virtually with Borough Cabinet members participating via videoconference. 

The meeting is slated for 9:30 p.m., today, March 15. It will also be live-streamed to the public on the Borough President’s website at www.queensbp.org.