NY Lawmakers on the Move June 8, 2022

Lawmakers on the Move

Gutiérrez, Louis, Hudson introduce bills to build a doula pipeline

City Council MemberJennifer Gutiérrez
City Councilmember Farah Louis
City Council Member Crystal Hudson

Brooklyn City Council Members Jennifer Gutiérrez, Farah Louis and Crystal Hudson tlast week introduced a package of legislation to build a pipeline of doulas across the city, as well as an education and resource campaign about the services provided by doulas and midwives. 

The first bill, introduced by Gutiérrez alongside Louis, would establish a pilot program in New York City to train doulas and provide no-cost professional doula services to New Yorkers across the five boroughs. The other bill, introduced by Hudson, would require the city to conduct an education and outreach campaign about the services offered by doulas and midwives. 

By working to build this awareness and pipeline of birth aides, New Yorkers would not only gain access to potentially life-saving support, but it would also increase employment opportunities for New Yorkers. 

“Having recently given birth with a doula by my side, I know how critically important they are for providing emotional, physical, and educational support. But doulas also serve another deeply important purpose – they’re another advocate in the room who can ensure a positive and safe birthing experience,” said Gutiérrez. “This country has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality among high-income countries, especially when it comes to women of color. We know that when people use doulas during pregnancy and birth, they’re two times less likely to have birth complications and four times less likely to have a low birthweight baby. Those are life-saving statistics”

“Access to alternative medical care, like doula services, gives important access to viable healthcare to communities across New York City and throughout the country. The immediate impact of equitable doula services is a lowering of the mortality rates – especially, in underserved communities,” said Louis. “Proper reporting will help ensure services are offered, accessed, and executed equally across the City, setting an example for future maternal health service programs and executions.” 

Maloney Opens Investigation into Former President Trump

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney

U.S. Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn), chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, this week sent a letter to Debra Steidel Wall, the Acting Archivist of the United States, seeking documents and information on former President Trump’s apparent failure to account for gifts from foreign government officials while in office, as required by the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act.  

“These revelations raise concerns about the potential for undue influence over former President Trump by foreign governments, which may have put the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States at risk, and about possible violations of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, which prohibits the president from obtaining benefits from foreign entities while in office,” wrote Maloney.

Public reporting indicates that President Trump accepted multiple gifts from foreign sources in 2020, yet these gifts do not appear on the State Department’s list of foreign gifts as required by law.  According to reports, following President Trump’s first foreign trip to Saudi Arabia in May 2017, at least 82 gifts were given to Trump Administration officials, but, “Nine of the most expensive presents—the three furs, three swords and three daggers—were sent to the White House gifts unit to be assessed and appraised but never appeared on any of the Trump State Department’s legally required annual filings for foreign gifts.”  

On April 11, 2022, the State Department revealed that it could not fully account for the foreign gifts Trump Administration officials received during the final year of the Trump Administration.  The State Department noted that during the Trump Administration, the Department’s Office of the Chief of Protocol failed to obtain a list of foreign gifts received in 2020 from the White House.  

The State Department also stated that it was unable to determine the identities of some government officials who received foreign gifts during the Trump Administration, as well as the sources of those foreign gifts.

Rajkumar lauds dropping of charges against Prakash Churaman

Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar

Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar (D-Queens) yesterday lauded the dropping of murder charges against Prakash Churman.

Churaman, 22, spent years behind bars before he was cleared of charges in a murder case and now intends to sue the city for $25 million. Queens District Attorney Melenda Katz on Monday dropped charges against Churaman for the 2014 murder of Taquane Clark, 21, in Jamaica.

“Justice has been served with the dropping of all charges against Prakash Churaman. This is a victory for Mr. Churaman, for Queens, for the entire Indo-Caribbean community, and for the cause of justice. I congratulate Mr. Churaman on his freedom. His courage, determination and persistence throughout this 7.5 year ordeal was extraordinary, but he should not have had to suffer. In the coming weeks, as Chair of the State Assembly Subcommittee on Diversity in Law, I will be conducting an inquiry into what led to this injustice, so we can stop it from happening again,” said Rajkumar. 

“As a civil rights attorney, I have seen firsthand how the justice system can fail defendants and deny them their right to due process. I have spent my career fighting to change this, bringing the voices of the vulnerable and disenfranchised into courts of law. Mr. Churaman’s victory was a victory for that cause. Thank you also to District Attorney Melinda Katz for doing the right thing and dropping the charges, showing that the hand of justice is fair in Queens.”

Malliotakis Displays POW-MIA Chair of Honor from Local Veteran Group

U.S. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis

U.S. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island, Brooklyn) Monday on the anniversary of D-Day, received a POW-MIA Chair of Honor from Rolling Thunder Chapter 2 New York, to display in her Staten Island District Office as part of the organization’s National POW-MIA Chair of Honor Program. 

A POW-MIA chair in any location is to remain perpetually empty to remember the soldiers who are still missing in action or became prisoners of war and have yet to return home to their families.

“Right now, there are more than 81,000 missing brave Americans as a result of war and conflict around the world,” said Malliotakis. “I’m honored to display this chair in our office as a permanent tribute to the brave men and women who’ve honorably served our nation overseas but sadly never made it home. We must do more as a grateful nation to raise attention to this issue and work toward the repatriation of all our POW/MIA soldiers. Thank you Rolling Thunder for providing this chair to serve as a reminder to all who enter that freedom is not free.”

Last year, Malliotakis honored the life of Private First Class Raymond Smith, a Brooklyn native who went MIA during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir in the Korean War, one of the most brutal conflicts in modern history. In September 2021, after 71 years, Smith’s remains were identified and returned to New York City where he was welcomed home by his family, a full U.S. military honor guard, and the Port Authority Police.

Meng announces winner of Congressional art contest

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) announced yesterday that Natalie Niselson, a freshman at Bayside High School has been selected as the winner of the Congresswoman’s annual Congressional district art contest.

The competition, which consisted of entries from Queens high school students, is part of “An Artistic Discovery,” the national art contest held annually by the House of Representatives that showcases the artwork of all Congressional district art contest winners from across the nation. 

Beginning later this month, Niselson’s winning piece – along with the winning artwork from art contests in Congressional districts throughout the United States – will be displayed for one year within the halls of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Niselson won the competition for her painting entitled “Brainwashed.” Meng announced her as the winner during a reception she recently hosted for students and their families. The reception was held at the Elmhurst branch of the Queens Public Library (in its second floor reading room), where all the submitted artwork was on display during the event.

In addition to Niselson, Meng announced the second and third place winners whose artwork will be displayed for one year in Meng’s Flushing office. They include Second Place Winner Angela Lin, a 10th grader from Rego Park for her artwork named “Returning to Normalcy,” and Third Place Winner Siya Gupta, an 11th grader from Rego Park for her artwork named “New York Under the Light.”

“I am thrilled and excited to congratulate Natalie Niselson for winning this year’s contest, and I thank all of our local students who entered the competition,” said Meng. “Each year, I love seeing such beautiful, creative and inspiring work that our young artists create, and this year was no exception. I look forward to Natalie’s winning piece representing our congressional district in Washington, D.C. and I am proud to highlight her exceptional talent. I also thank Elmhurst Library for providing a wonderful space for the reception and exhibition. As we continue to move past the COVID-19 pandemic, I am glad that we can continue to hold this competition, and spotlight the tremendous creativity of our young people.”

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