NY Lawmakers on the Move, Aug. 31, 2022

Lawmakers on the Move

Velázquez introduces bill to ban all neurotoxic pesticides

U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez

U.S. Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens) yesterday introduced the Ban All Neurotoxic Organophosphate Pesticides from Our Food Act. 

This straightforward piece of legislation would prohibit the use of organophosphate pesticides in food. Organophosphates are human-made chemical substances that are used on crops and have been shown to pose health risks to farmworkers and can affect children’s neurodevelopment and neurological function, including by exposure before birth.

“The science has been clear for decades: this type of pesticides is a dangerous neurological threat to farmworkers and our children,” said Velázquez. “These pesticides during early life have been shown to lead to irreversible harm to the developing brain, which can result in long-term effects like attention disorders, autism, and reduced IQ. We can no longer sit back and wait to act, I’m proud to have introduced this legislation which will finally ban the use of this hazardous pesticides.”

Weprin to gather with business & community advocates to oppose implementation of congestion pricing

Assembly Member David Weprin

Assemblymember David I. Weprin (D-Queens) will gather today with Queens civic organizations and business advocacy groups to express strong opposition to the congestion pricing tax and recommend a delay in implementation.

The middle-class communities in New York City cannot afford a tax hike in the form of congestion pricing, which will add hundreds of dollars in additional monthly expenses for working-class families and will serve as yet another tax on New York’s middle-class, said Weprin.

Weprin contends that congestion pricing will impose a major financial burden on New York’s businesses at a time of skyrocketing inflation. These costs will negatively impact consumers, business owners, and employees, while further disrupting the supply chain. Restaurants, theaters, concert halls, and small businesses are only just beginning to return to normal, and the implementation of congestion pricing during this critical juncture could jeopardize the recovery. New York City’s Taxi drivers and for-hire transportation providers are already facing a crisis with the added costs of surcharges and other market pressures and will be subject to an even larger crisis with new taxes, he said.

Weprin said that New York cannot burden the working- and middle-class citizens, already struggling to meet rising costs of living, with a new tax in the form of congestion pricing. The State must explore alternative streams of funding and delay the implementation of congestion pricing for several years.

The press conference is slated for 3 p.m.,today, Aug. 3 outside of 25-01 Queens Plaza North (Corner of Queens Plaza North & Crescent St.) in Long Island City, Queens.

AM Mamdani celebrates taxi medallion debt relief deal

Assemby Member Zohran Mamdani

Assembly Member Zohran Mamdani (D-Queens) yesterday celebrated city hall’s announced  taxi medallion debt relief deal.

The program allows owner-drivers to restructure taxi medallion loans with a maximum principal balance of $170,000 after a $30,000 grant and a fixed interest rate of 7.3% or less. Each loan also has a city-funded guarantee, ensuring that lenders cannot pursue drivers’ assets to settle outstanding debts.

“On November 3 of last year, we broke our 15 day hunger strike with the news of a tentative agreement between the City, the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, and Marblegate, the largest taxi medallion lender in the industry. Today, we celebrate as that dream comes alive – finally providing NYC taxi drivers the relief they deserve,” said Mamdani. 

“The realization of this agreement is a testament to the organizing of the 25,000 driver-members of NYTWA who have fought tirelessly for years – to keep their homes, to send their kids to college, to fight for those we lost to suicide, and to live a future free of the devastation of the debt crisis. I am proud to have stood with NYTWA through the fight for this program, and I am grateful to all who helped bring this agreement to fruition,” the lawmaker added.

Medallion owner-drivers can apply to the debt relief program through the TLC’s Driver / Owner Resource Center, and begin closing on restructured loans on September 19. Applications will close October 31, 2022. 

AG James and FTC sue online apartment finder for defrauding renters

Letitia James
New York Attorney General Letitia James

New York Attorney General Letitia James and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) yesterday sued Roomster — an online platform that claims to help individuals find apartments and roommates — and its executives for defrauding millions of users nationwide. 

The lawsuit alleges that Roomster, a Manhattan-based company, failed to verify apartments submitted to its website, posted non-existent apartment listings, and scammed consumers out of tens of millions of dollars. 

Roomster, which is used predominantly by low-income renters and students, also bought and uploaded tens of thousands of fake positive reviews on app stores to boost traffic to its platform. James and the FTC are co-leading a coalition of six attorneys general to stop Roomster’s deceptive practices and secure restitution for impacted individuals nationwide.

“There is a term for lying and deceiving your customers to grow your business: Fraud. Roomster used illegal and unacceptable practices to grow its business at the expense of low-income renters and students,” said James. “Unlike Roomster’s unverified listings and fake reviews, their deceptive business practices will not go unchecked. I am proud to lead this effort with the FTC to protect low-income renters and students defrauded by Roomster.”