NY Lawmakers on the Move, May 13, 2022

Lawmakers on the Move

Malliotakis Signs Onto Legislation to Strengthen Domestic Infant Formula Supply

U.S. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis

U.S. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (D-Staten Island, Brooklyn) yesterday joined her Republican colleagues in cosponsoring the Forumla Act, legislation that strengthens the domestic infant formula supply amid a baby formula shortage in the United States.

Specifically, the Formula Act would direct the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ‘to establish and communicate to Congress clear standards by which it domestically regulates infant formula.’ These standards would then be applied to foreign infant formula to allow formula imports and support domestic manufacturers.

“Sadly, the infant formula shortage is the latest result of President Biden’s policies that have left our shelves bare and dramatically increased the cost of everyday goods,” Malliotakis said. “I join my colleagues in urging Speaker Pelosi to bring this critically important piece of legislation to the floor to provide immediate relief to families all across America who are struggling to feed their babies. Bare shelves are what my family sees in communist Cuba. It isn’t what American families should be seeing here in the United States of America.”

Currently, the United States does not import foreign infant formula because the FDA does not have interchangeable standards in place to regulate foreign formula to ensure it complies with U.S. health code and regulations. By codifying standard regulations for infant formula, this legislation would allow the United States to safely import foreign infant formula to complement domestic production, particularly during times of severe shortage like American families are currently facing.

Clarke & Gillibrand Introduce Legislation Addressing Causes of Unaffordable Housing

U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

U.S. Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (D-Brooklyn) and U.S. Senator Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) yesterday introduced the bicameral Affordable Housing and Area Median Income Fairness Act of 2022 as a multi-pronged approach to address some of the core challenges that have led to a severe lack of affordable housing in our nation’s urban areas.

In cities across the country, including Brooklyn, soaring rent prices and the severe lack of affordable housing units continues to displace low-income communities and keep basic housing needs out of reach. Nationwide, just under half of all renters face a rent burden exceeding 30% of their income. Even more troublingly, almost 1 in 4 renters contribute more than 50% of their income to rent every single month. Cities, once the cornerstone of the American dream, are quickly becoming out of reach for too many Americans, particularly in areas hardest hit by COVID-19. 

While there are many factors contributing to this crisis, the HUD statistic known as Area Median Income (AMI) which is used to determine rent prices and income limits for affordable units is particularly harmful, as the way AMI is currently calculated excludes actual low-income families from the affordable housing intended for them.

“In my beloved Brooklyn and too many communities across this nation, the security of affordable housing has become entirely out-of-reach to those who rely on it. For the communities of color most impacted by these inequities, we cannot afford to do nothing while they suffer under the unaffordability of safety,” said Clarke. “The simple measures within the Affordable Housing and Area Median Income Fairness Act won’t only lower income caps and rent prices and significantly increase the supply of affordable housing – they will keep our communities’ most vulnerable groups safe in homes that won’t bankrupt them. This bill is a fundamental step in our fight against housing insecurity, and I am proud to have introduced it.”

“The Affordable Housing and Area Median Income Fairness Act of 2022 changes our approach calculating AMI and would also help make housing more affordable for low-income and middle-class families in New York. I look forward to fighting to pass it in the Senate,” said Gillibrand.

QBP Richards, CM Williams Launch Downtown Jamaica Improvement Council

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards
City Council Member Nantasha Williams

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr., along with City Council Member Nantasha Williams (D-Queens) yesterday announced the formation of the Downtown Jamaica Improvement Council, an interagency panel that will work to improve conditions in Downtown Jamaica.

The new group, made up of community stakeholders, elected officials and city agencies, will help streamline communication between all involved partners, spur the completion of projects to improve quality-of-life for area residents, and support the economic vitality of one of Queens’ major transportation and commercial hubs.

“We carefully listened to the Downtown Jamaica community about the issues impacting the quality-of-life in the neighborhood and are committing to make sure they are addressed quickly and comprehensively,” said Richards. “Our Downtown Jamaica Improvement Council will work diligently to fast-track several projects that will improve conditions in Jamaica and make it an even better place to live, work and visit. The Council will not rest until Downtown Jamaica reaches its fullest potential as a thriving commercial, residential and transportation hub.”

“I am excited about this new task force,” said Williams. “The creation of this task force is another step towards making Downtown Jamaica a thriving hub for people to work, play, and dine.  Jamaica is one of the most important economic hubs in South East Queens and plays a vital role in New York City’s economy. This is an opportunity to improve Downtown Jamaica by leveraging our collective resources. I look forward to working with community leaders, my colleagues in government, city and state agencies, and the business community to make sure this vibrant part of our borough is even better than what it already is.”

AM Simon, Sen. Brooks Lead Gathering for 7th Annual Dyslexia Awareness Day

Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon
Sen. John Brooks

Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon (D-Brooklyn) and Sen. John Brooks (D-Long Island) yesterday were the lead hosts of the 7th Annual Dyslexia Awareness Day. 

Teens, parents, advocates, educators and legislators from across New York State highlighted the need to address dyslexia in students, the most common learning disability in kids. NYC Mayor Eric L. Adams and NYC Education Chancellor David Banks also attended, after announcing a historic initiative to screen students for dyslexia and provide targeted interventions.

The event featured teens with dyslexia sharing their experiences, parents sharing advocacy strategies, and experts creating inclusive learning environments for everyone. Legislators highlighted solutions including evidenced-based teacher training to improve literacy rates (S1376/A2217), early dyslexia screening for students (S1293/A2283), a dyslexia task force (S441/A2185), and dyslexia screening for those who are incarcerated and lack a high school diploma or GED (S307/A2062).

“Dyslexia is the most prevalent learning disability in children, and yet it is woefully misunderstood, unrecognized and just plain ignored. Every child should be screened for dyslexia and related learning disabilities and get the interventions they need before they fall behind. We also must provide teachers with training in multi-sensory sequential phonics that work for all learners. I’m encouraged by the Mayor’s historic dyslexia initiatives, and I’ll keep pushing for dyslexia bills on a state level,” said Simon, who started Dyslexia Awareness Day and who has represented dyslexic students for decades, including a landmark disability rights case on behalf of a dyslexic law school graduate.

“As someone who struggled throughout school due to undiagnosed dyslexia, I understand the challenges one faces when they have a learning disorder. Awareness is key to letting every boy and girl who has dyslexia know that they aren’t less capable or less intelligent than their peers, and they should never be discouraged,” said Brooks. “There are countless individuals who have gone on to have great success in their careers — governors, CEOs, artists, state senators, movie directors and more — because dyslexia doesn’t limit your potential or prevent you from changing the world.”

Rajkumar Hosts “Plant the Seeds of Kindness” Flower Potting in Glendale

Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar

Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar (D-Queens) yesterday was delighted to join her friends in the community for the “Plant the Seeds of Kindness” flower distribution. 

The event was a partnership between the Assemblywoman and local florist and cafe operator Dorothy Stepnowska, Councilman Robert Holden, and the Glendale Civic Association. 

The event at the “Uncle” Vito F. Maranzano Glendale Playground gave children the opportunity to pot flowers that they could then take home. They were encouraged to give the flowers as gifts to others. Assemblywoman Rajkumar also distributed free COVID-19 home test kits, PPE, hand sanitizer, and refreshments.

“Glendale is home to one of the most beautiful sites in the entire city, Forest Park. Every child should not only experience their own token of this natural beauty, but also learn the value of generously sharing it with others,” said Rajkumar.

“If they need help deciding to whom to give their flower, I remind them that it is never too late to give a Mother’s Day gift,” she added.