NY Lawmakers on the Move June 29, 2022

Lawmakers on the Move

Schulman, Narcisse lead joint committee meeting focussing on maternal Health

City Council Member Lynn Schulman
City Council Member Mercedes Narcisse

City Council Members Lynn Schulman (D-Queens), chair of the Committee on Health; and Mercedes Narcisse (D-Brooklyn), chair of the Committee on Hospitals, today will hold a joint committee meeting focussing on proposed legislation dealing with maternal health.

Among this legislation is a proposal concerning education about city standards for respectful care at birth, health care proxy forms and patients’ rights. This bill would require that the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) undertake a public education campaign in facilities that provide obstetric and gynecological care through the Department to inform patients about the city standards for respectful care at birth and related rights.

Another measure would require the DOHMH to post the annual Maternal Mortality and Morbidity report on its website.

They will also look at establishing a pilot program in the DOHMH to train doulas and provide doula services to residents in all five boroughs. A related measure would do an outreach and education campaign on the benefits and services provided by doulas and midwives.

The committee will also look at legislation to establish an office of sexual and reproductive health within DOHMH.

The public hybrid hearing is slated for 10 a.m. at City Hall in Lower Manhattan. Livestream.

Malliotakis finds progress in effort to block Biden’s VA hospital closures

U.S. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis

U.S. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island, Brooklyn) yesterday lauded a bipartisan group of senators committed to blocking the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Asset and Infrastructure Review (AIR) Commission’s recommendations to close VA hospitals across the country. 

The commitment comes as Malliotakis has been leading the charge to save the Brooklyn VA Hospital from closing.

“It’s completely unacceptable that the Biden Administration proposed closing veteran hospitals across the country including two right here in New York City,” Malliotakis said. “I’ve been working diligently with veterans’ organizations and House and Senate lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to stop these proposed closures and protect the services so many veterans in our community rely on. The Senate’s commitment to block the AIR Commission’s recommendations is a key victory, however, we will continue to be vigilant and vocal and won’t stop working to protect these facilities until the President definitively says any proposal from the AIR commission is dead on arrival.”  

In March, Malliotakis led two rallies with local veterans and elected officials outside the Staten Island and Brooklyn VA clinics to protest the closures. Under the VA’s proposal, the Manhattan and Brooklyn VA Medical Centers would close entirely, contracting out inpatient and outpatient services to private medical providers as part of a new “strategic collaboration.” 

As of 2019, there were 138,000 veterans living in the New York City metropolitan area according to the U.S. Census Bureau, with 75 percent being senior citizens. The Brooklyn VA Medical Center and Manhattan VA Medical Center service roughly 1,000 veterans every day (M-F) for outpatient appointments. 

QBP Richards to celebrate completion of Hallets Cove Restoration project

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr., New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) President and CEO Andrew Kimball, City Council Member Tiffany Caban and other community leaders today will cut the ribbon of a multimillion restoration of Hallets Cove in Astoria, Queens.

Following a series of community input sessions in recent years, the revitalization of Hallets Cove began in the fall of 2021, with NYCEDC overseeing the demolition and removal of the dilapidated radio tower pier and other debris, the installation of a new railing along Vernon Boulevard, and the replacement of invasive plant species with new wetland vegetation as well as the planting of new street trees.

The total cost of the project was $5 million, of which $3 million had been allocated by the Borough President’s Office across Fiscal Years 2016 and 2017. The Mayor’s Office and then-Council Member Constantinides each allocated $1 million in funding toward the restoration of Hallets Cove.

The ribbon cutting is slated for 10 a.m., today, June 29 at Hallets Cove, Corner of Vernon Boulevard and 30th Road in Astoria, Queens.

Espaillat Introduces the Protect Veteran Students, Job Seekers, and Entrepreneurs Housing Act

U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat

U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-Manhattan, Bronx) this month introduced the Protect Veteran Students, Job Seekers, and Entrepreneurs Housing Act to preserve and provide greater protections for Veterans and their families. 

The measure (H.R. 7885) proposes a series of amendments to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and would require landlords to consider certain educational assistance administered by the Secretary of Veteran Affairs as income as well as require a residential lease period to not exceed the number of months an individual is entitled to educational assistance in order to preserve housing for veterans and their families.

Current statute allows for the VA to eliminate or pause veteran benefits if they miss a requirement, even if it is due to circumstances out of a veteran’s control, such as a death or other major life events. Additionally, the Espaillat bill would establish a 60-day grace period before the VA is permitted to terminate educational assistance benefits when an individual does not fulfill a program requirement. 

“Currently, residential properties and landlords do not guarantee that educational assistance and benefits provided to veterans through the Department of Veterans Affairs will be accepted as income to help residential leases,” said Espaillat. 

“This limitation affects many veterans and their families across my district in their ability to access quality and affordable housing. Our veterans served our nation, and upon their return home, we have a responsibility to ensure benefits and resources that will help them transition back to civilian life following their service—and my bill aims to do just that,” he added.

Velázquez on McKinsey Conflicts of Interest in Puerto Rico

Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (Photo Credit: ballotpedia.org)
U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez

U.S. Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens) yesterday released the following statement in response to reporting by the Wall Street Journal shedding light on conflicts of interest between McKinsey & Co. and Puerto Rico’s debt restructuring board (FOMB). 

“Earlier this year, my bill requiring disclosures of conflicts of interest in Puerto Rico’s debt restructuring process became law, marking a massive step forward for transparency and accountability for the people of Puerto Rico.

“However, as the Wall Street Journal reporting brings to light, McKinsey in particular has gone to egregious lengths to oppose disclosure requirements and now it’s abundantly clear why—they have been in the pockets of massive corporations who seek to benefit from the debt restructuring. Among one of McKinsey’s most scandalous conflicts of interest is their relationship with Quanta Services Inc. Quantas owns half of the joint venture that took over energy transmission and distribution privatization last year in Puerto Rico. This privatization has failed to benefit Puerto Ricans, as service on the island continues to be unstable, and rates continue to increase. This leads to serious questions over if whether Mckinsey’s ability to be privy to confidential information as advisers to the FOMB benefited Quantas in any way in their bid for privatization. Mckinsey and the FOMB have a lot explaining to do.

“McKinsey’s failure to list Puma Energy Caribe LLC as part of its disclosures also raises many red flags. Clearly there are lots of private interests at stake who have access to information that would benefit from opposing greener energy—the wrong direction for Puerto Rico and our planet.

“I hope that Judge Swain and the Trustee’s office take into serious account these conflicts of interest by McKinsey. They have reaped billions from the people of Puerto Rico while at the same time pushing for austerity on the people of the island. Enough is enough.”