NY Lawmakers on the Move, Aug. 3, 2022

Lawmakers on the Move

Reichlin-Melnick Blasts MTA Congestion Pricing Plan for Rockland 

State Sen. Senator Elijah Reichlin-Melnick

Senator Elijah Reichlin-Melnick (D-Rockland/Westchester) last Friday blasted the MTA for moving forward with a congestion pricing plan that could cost thousands of dollars a year for Rockland residents who have no quick or affordable mass transit options to reach New York City. 

The Senator is circulating a petition for Rockland residents to sign demanding that the MTA delay congestion pricing for Rockland residents until there is a one-seat ride to Manhattan. The petition is available via this link on Change.org. https://chng.it/8YJz6HZ7MH

“Congestion pricing is just the latest tax that benefits NYC at the expense of Rockland residents. For commuters, these costs could be thousands of dollars a year. Unlike other parts of the metro area, Rockland residents have no quick or easy way to get into NYC by mass transit,” reichlin-Melnick said. “Until Rockland has a one-seat ride to Manhattan, congestion pricing is an unfair tax to subsidize a transit system that doesn’t equitably serve our community.”

During the gubernatorial debates in June, Governor Kathy Hochul indicated congestion pricing would not be implemented within the next year. But a statement released last week by the MTA announced that congestion pricing is “forging ahead”. 

The petition also alerts residents to upcoming opportunities for public comment on a soon-to-be-released environmental assessment on congestion pricing.

Sanders urges Hochul to sign his “Foreclosure Abuse Prevention Act” 

State Senator James Sanders Jr.

Senator James Sanders Jr. (D-Queens) yesterday urged Governor Kathy Hochul to sign his “Foreclosure Abuse Prevention Act” into law as soon as possible because it is needed now more than ever. 

This bill provides needed clarification to correct recent judicial decisions. These decisions have undermined long standing legal precedents to excuse financial institutions from the effects of long standing statutes of limitations principles. It comes as mortgage delinquency rates have spiked in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Homeowners who are in foreclosure will be the biggest winners when this significant foreclosure bill becomes law. This legislation will go a long way in helping homeowners save their homes from foreclosure by leveling the playing field and eliminating certain abuses lenders have used in Courts to the detriment of the homeowners,” said Sanders Jr.

The “Foreclosure Abuse Prevention Act” passed the Senate on May 3 in a 52-10 vote. On March 23, the Assembly version of this bill introduced by Assemblymember Helene Weinstein (D-Brooklyn) passed the Assembly in a 107-40 vote. 

Espaillat, Maloney Lead Congressional Effort to Protect Aviation Consumers

U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat
Congressional primary
U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney

U.S. Reps. Adriano Espaillat (D-Manhattan, Bronx), member of the House Appropriations Committee, and Carolyn B. Maloney (D-Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn), Chairwoman of the House Oversight and Reform committee, yesterday sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation urging the agency to exercise its administrative authority and require air carriers and ticket agents to provide requested refunds to passengers when a carrier cancels or significantly changes a flight to, from, or within the United States.

Since 2020, the Department of Transportation has received an increased number of complaints and inquiries from airline consumers, who describe having been denied refunds for flights that were canceled or significantly delayed at no fault by the consumer.

“Aviation consumers are experiencing nightmare airline experiences,” wrote the Members. “We urge the Department of Transportation to exercise its administrative authority and require refunds to passengers when carriers cancel or significantly change flights to, from, or within the United States. 

“Carriers have had a longstanding obligation to provide a prompt refund to a ticketed passenger when the carrier cancels the passengers flight,” they continued. “The focus is not on whether the flight disruptions are within or outside the carrier’s control, but rather on the fact that the cancellation is through no fault of the passenger.”

The letter comes as JetBlue recently announced its purchase of Spirit Airlines for $3.8 billion amid growing concern of anticompetitive practices that is inconsistent with the public interest.

Espaillat is a cosponsor of the Cash Refunds for Flight Cancellations Act, which would provide consumers an enforceable right to a full cash refund for flight and ticket cancellations. 

Gillbrand calls on Biden Administration to increase access to Monkeypox vaccines

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) today will hold a video press conference calling on the Biden administration to invoke the Defense Production Act to increase the domestic production of and access to monkeypox vaccines.

The calls comes as there are currently over 5,000 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the United States, including several in children, and New York State has emerged as a center of the outbreak. 

Cases are expected to rise, but the U.S. does not currently have enough vaccines to protect all at-risk individuals. New York State has been allotted only 170,000 vaccine doses as demand continues to skyrocket.

The press conference is slated for 1:30 p.m., today Aug. 3. No link was given to access the press conference for the public.