NY Lawmakers on the Move, March 31, 2022

Lawmakers on the Move

Gillibrand Introduces Postal Banking Act to Provide Financial Services to Underbanked Americans

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) yesterday reintroduced the Postal Banking Act, legislation that would re-establish postal banking to provide financial security to millions of Americans in low-income and rural communities. 

The Postal Banking Act would strengthen the Postal Service by establishing a nonprofit bank offering low-cost checking and savings accounts, ATMs, mobile banking, and low-interest loans.

At the same time, Gillibrand released an original report, “Postal Banking: Delivering For The American People,” demonstrating that at least 1.5 million New York households and more than 25 million households nationwide stand to benefit from postal banking.

“As our economy rebounds from the pandemic, it is essential that every American has access to financially safe and reliable banking services,” said Gillibrand. “However, more than 46 million Americans are not having their needs met by our current banking system and often fall prey to predatory lenders who take advantage of them with high fees and interest rates. The Postal Banking Act is a simple solution to a complex problem—it would offer basic financial services at post offices in both rural and urban communities, while simultaneously generating nearly $19 billion per year for the USPS. Put simply: postal banking delivers.”

Espaillat, Meng Announce Community Project Funding For FY2023 To Help Local Communities

U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat
U.S. Rep. Grace Meng

U.S. Reps. Adriano Espaillat (D-Manhattan) and Grace Meng (D-Queens), the two New York members of the powerful House Appropriations Committee—which funds federal agencies and programs—announced this week a new process for state and local governments and non-profits to receive direct federal funding through the Appropriations process.  

The lawmakers have also created guidance to help New York nonprofits and government entities navigate the Community Project Funding process in Congress.

Community Project Funding recognizes that Members of Congress know their districts best, and know the needs of their communities.  Unlike the former congressionally-directed spending, also known as “earmarks,” the revamped Community Project Funding process will prioritize accountability, transparency, and strong community support. 

Eligible entities that can apply for funding include state or local governmental entities and non-profit organizations.  All for-profit groups and entities are ineligible.  Eligible projects are broken down by each spending bill.

Those interested in submitting a Community Project Funding request must consult with their specific congressional representative.

“We are incredibly excited to announce that New York state and local governments, and non-profit organizations, are now able to request Community Project Funding in upcoming annual federal spending bills,” said Espaillat and Meng.  “This process will ensure that Members of Congress can work with their communities to identify projects which need funding, especially as we look to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.  After all, Members of Congress know their districts best.  We have prepared a short overview of how to identify those projects and what steps may be involved.”

Gianaris Continues To Push for 21st Century Antitrust Act, Major Overhaul of NY’s Antitrust Laws

Senator Michael Gianaris

Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris (D-Queens) is pushing for changes to New York’s antiquated antitrust laws and a new survey by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) demonstrates small businesses are in need of this type of reform. 

According to their report, over 60% of small businesses said large competitors like Amazon, who can afford to sell goods below cost, pose a serious threat to their operations.

“Our antitrust laws were written a century ago for a radically different economy and they are in desperate need of reform,” said Gianaris. “Corporate power has reached unprecedented and dangerous levels, and we need powerful new laws to protect the public and our economy. This survey shows our small businesses need meaningful reform, like my 21st Century Antitrust Act, and I will keep fighting to get it done.”

The 21st Century Antitrust Act would mark a significant change to New York’s antitrust laws for the first time in over 100 years. Under current state law, antitrust laws require two parties to conspire to manipulate the economy before enforcement actions can occur. 

In the current economy, however, major commercial players (particularly Big Tech) successfully manipulate the market unilaterally – by exerting dominance. Examples include manipulating search results to favor their own products and punish competitors as well as undercutting competitors’ prices at a loss to drive them out of business or pressure them to sell to the larger companies. 

Gianaris’ legislation would allow the state to take action against these players and would create an “abuse of dominance” standard to empower regulators to bring enforcement actions more successfully.

Malliotakis Urges Local Nonprofits to Apply for FEMA Security Grant Program 

U.S. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis

U.S. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (D-Staten Island, Brooklyn) yesterday urged local nonprofits to apply for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Nonprofit Security Grant Program, in light of the recent uptick in attacks and threats against nonprofits, community centers, and places of worship in New York City, including the Staten Island Jewish Community Center that was evacuated last week after receiving a bomb threat.

The Nonprofit Security Grant Program provides funding support for target hardening and other physical security enhancements and activities to nonprofit organizations that are at high risk of a terrorist attack. The intent is to integrate nonprofit preparedness activities with broader state and local preparedness efforts. It is also designed to promote coordination and collaboration in emergency preparedness activities among public and private community representatives, as well as state and local government agencies.

“With hate crimes and attacks against places of worship on the rise in New York City, it’s critically important for local organizations to take steps to protect themselves and their property,” Malliotakis said. “While I continue to condemn these attacks and call on the city and state to do more to combat the rise in crime, this grant program provides organizations with the resources to enhance security measures and better prepare themselves to handle attacks.”

Additionally, Malliotakis encourages local nonprofits, faith-based to participate in the FY 2022 Nonprofit Security Grant Program Technical Assistance Webinar on Friday, April 1, 2022, at 3:00 PM, to learn more about the competitive grant program, priorities, eligibility, and application process. Sign up for the webinar HERE.