NY Lawmakers on the Move, Sept. 9, 2022

Lawmakers on the Move

Adams mourns passing of Queen Elizabeth II

Mayor Eric Adams

New York City Mayor Eric Adams yesterday mourned the passing of British monarch Queen Elizabeth II at 96. The queen sat on the throne for 70 years, making her the longest reigning monarch in British history.

“It is with sadness that I learned of the passing of her majesty Queen Elizabeth II. She was committed to a life of service which impacted many. She was a global force who will be remembered for her reign of 70 years. Our deepest condolences to the Royal Family, the people of the United Kingdom, and the Commonwealth,” Adams said.

The mayor also ordered all flags on all city buildings, as well as stationary flagstaffs throughout the five boroughs, to be lowered to half-staff, beginning immediately.

Velázquez calls on NYCHA federal monitor to approve new vendor to test water at at Riis Houses

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

U.S. Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn) yesterday sent a letter to New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Chair Gregory Russ after potentially dangerous levels of the chemical arsenic were found in the water systems at Riis Houses on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. 

In the letter, Velázquez presses NYCHA to cancel its relationship with the company and testing lab that was failing to test for arsenic in the water at Riis Houses, and asks for NYCHA’s Federal Monitor, Bart Schwartz to approve a new vendor to ensure all federal, state, and local testing laws are met.

“Over the past week, the residents of Riis Houses have lived with the burden and fear of not being able to trust that the water in their homes is safe for consuming, cooking, or bathing,” said Velázquez. “This is an unacceptable and dangerous situation that with proper testing and diligence, should have been avoided in the first place. Right now, the least NYCHA can do is to assure all residents that they are taking every possible step to run comprehensive tests on the water systems on a regular basis. Over the past week, my office has been in close contact with both residents of Riis Houses and NYCHA and I will continue to work to hold NYCHA and I will continue to work to hold NYCHA accountable and prevent this from ever happening again.”

Gianaris, Hoylman, Thomas introduce “Tax-Free Debt Forgiveness Act” 

Senator Michael Gianaris
Sen. Brad Hoylman

Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris (D-Queens), Senator Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan), and Senator Kevin Thomas (D-Nassau County) announced yesterday they introduced new legislation (S.9548), the “Tax Free Debt Forgiveness Act” to permanently exempt federal student loan forgiveness from state taxation. 

The bill will save half a million New Yorkers hundreds of dollars each and help relieve the crushing burden of debt for low- and middle-income earners.  

“Relieving student debt is critical for so many across New York. It should not turn into a cash grab by the state. This is an important step in making it easier to access the higher education and career training New Yorkers need and deserve,” Gianaris.

Hoylman said: “New York State shouldn’t receive a windfall on the backs of low and middle-income student borrowers. Student loan debt is crushing an entire generation of students, and New York must do its part in combating this crippling crisis.”

Thomas said: “I’m proud to co-sponsor this legislation to ensure anticipated Federal student loan debt relief is not considered taxable income in New York State. Codifying exemptions that clarify forgiven loans are not subject to State taxes prevents confusion and will protect eligible borrowers from being penalized for receiving this needed – and important relief from the U.S. Department of Education.”

Kaplan, Sillitti release names of Long Island communities with abortion restrictions

State Sen. Anna Kaplan
Assemblywoman Gina L. Sillitti

Senator Anna M. Kaplan (D-North Hills) and Assemblywoman Gina L. Sillitti (D-Port Washington) yesterday announced the results of a comprehensive review they recently undertook to find out if any communities on Long Island continued to have abortion restrictions on the books within their municipal codes. 

The effort comes on the heels of the successful effort by the Town of North Hempstead to repeal abortion restrictions that, until last week, continued to exist in the Town Code.

“If we’ve learned anything from the extremist Supreme Court’s reckless decision to steal our Constitutional right to choose, it’s that we can’t take anything for granted, and we’ve got to fight for our rights at every level of government, because clearly there are people who will stop at nothing to assert their control over women, and they’ll use every trick in the book to do it. It’s shocking that over a million people on Long Island currently live in a community where there are still abortion restrictions on the books, and we know that these laws were enacted with the sole purpose of getting between women and their right to choose,” said Kaplan.

Sillitti said the state legislature made sure a woman’s right to choose was protected and now we are looking to our local municipalities to do the same. 

“I am thankful the Town of North Hempstead is leading the way. Because make no mistake about it, administrations could change. Elected officials could change. There are those running for office right now trying to repeal these efforts, and as a proud pro-choice elected official, we have to make sure every loophole is closed; and closed tight,” said Sillitti.

Upon review of the municipal code of over 110 of Long Island’s Counties, Towns, Villages, and Cities, Senator Kaplan and Assemblywoman Sillitti discovered that 5 municipalities with a combined population of over 1.25 million people continue to have draconian abortion restrictions on their books. 

The 5 municipalities that continue to have abortion restrictions in their municipal code are the Town of Hempstead, the Town of Oyster Bay, the Town of Huntington, the Village of Freeport, and the Village of Williston Park. 

The laws generally restrict access to abortions of any kind, including medication based, non-surgical abortions, by requiring that all abortions take place in a hospital setting, effectively outlawing abortion clinics like Planned Parenthood, and adding an extraordinary time and cost barrier to keep women from accessing this vital healthcare. Individuals found violating these ordinances could be subject to jail time and fines.