This week, I am proud to share that the New York Health Act has moved one step closer to becoming law in New York. As you may or may not be aware, this is the bill which would create a system of universal healthcare in New York State.
This week, the bill was reported from the Codes Committee (which I Chair). It passed along party lines, and now proceeds to the Assembly Ways & Means Committee which deals with any legislation that has a fiscal component to it. I am a member of this committee, and I will absolutely be voting yes on this legislation again.
The bill also needs to move in the State Senate, where it seems to be stuck in the Health Committee, which is chaired by the bill's lead sponsor. I know that there have been a number of labor unions (as well as industry trade groups) which have expressed concerns about this legislation. I do believe that the New York Health Act sufficiently addresses any concerns about how it would impact previously negotiated benefits that were produced by collective bargaining efforts and may have been won at the expense of salary or wage increases. The New York Health Act has language which would ensure that employers continue to pay for the significant majority of health insurance for all New Yorkers, as well as includes a formula for recuperating the cost equivalent of health benefits for collectively bargained contracts.
I will continue to fight for this legislation in the Assembly, and I remain hopeful that it becomes law soon.
NEW: Pop-Up COVID-19 At-Home Test Kit Giveaway on 5/12
My office will be hosting a pop-up at-home COVID-19 test kit giveaway tomorrow (Wednesday, May 12). The giveaway is co-hosted by Council Member Eric Dinowitz and Congressman Adriano Espaillat.
WHEN: Wednesday, May 12 from 11:30am to 12:30pm*
WHERE: My District Office (3107 Kingsbridge Avenue)
*while supplies last
Please contact my office with any questions or concerns.
Voluntary Intoxication Bill Reported From Committee
I am very pleased to share that one of my priority bills has moved closer to passage as well. This legislation seeks to remove the ability for someone accused of sexual assault to raise the voluntary intoxication of the victim in their defense at a criminal trial. This week, that legislation was successfully reported from the Codes Committee — where it had previously encountered some concerns from other members of the committee. Along with some of the advocates for this bill, I have spent a significant amount of time and energy speaking with my colleagues on the committee to build support for this important legislation.
This legislation is fundamentally needed because prosecutors do not always pursue charges that may be merited out of fear for what the defense will argue. It can also be a deterrent for survivors of sexual assault to come forward if they think their sobriety during the assault will come into question at trial.
However, I want to be crystal clear that under the current law — prosecutors can still bring these charges, even if the victim voluntarily ingested drugs or alcohol. Juries and/or judges can still convict a defendant, even if they raise voluntary intoxication as a defense.
This being said, I believe that it is reprehensible for a defendant to even raise the idea that voluntary intoxication is at all a factor in whether or not somebody was sexually assaulted as described in state law. That is why we need to prohibit the use of this defense.
ERAP Program Begins Sending Money Again After Budget Passes
As you may recall, our recently passed state budget included additional funds to support the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. This means that the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance will be processing eligible ERAP applications submitted through March 31, 2022.
Currently, applications submitted through December 31, 2022 are under active review and processing. In coming months, they will also process applications submitted between January 1 and March 31, 2022.
Please contact my office with any questions or concerns about your ERAP application at 718-796-5345 or DinowitzJ@nyassembly.gov.
Reminder for REAL ID Requirement
As a reminder, the REAL ID requirement will be going into effect on May 3, 2023. That means you have less than one year left to upgrade your state ID to one that meets federal identification standards.
You may recall that this deadline was extended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This ID standard will be required for any federal usage, including air travel and entering a military base or facility.
You can convert your current ID to a REAL ID at the New York State DMV. I highly encourage anyone who is planning to go to the DMV to first make an reservation in order to minimize wait time. Once your documents are submitted, it should take approximately two weeks for the new ID to arrive.
Local Update: Accessible Pedestrian Signals Arrive in Neighborhood
You may have noticed a certain beeping noise in your neighborhood, especially late at night when it is quieter outside. This beeping is for new Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS), which are designed to help people with limited or no vision safely cross the street.
The beeping is called a locator tone, and it is important so that people with vision impairments are able to locate the APS device.
While I strongly support the installation of these accessible signals, I understand that the noise may be bothersome to some of you. There are guideline standards for how loud the tone should be above ambient noise, and I have already asked the Department of Transportation to look into whether the devices are calibrated correctly at the intersections of West 235th Street and Independence Avenue as well as West 239th Street and Independence Avenue.
If you have additional locations where you believe the audio calibration may be incorrect, please let my office know at DinowitzJ@nyassembly.gov.
Albany Update: Rallying to Reign in Power of Massive Conglomerates
This week, I proudly attended two rallies to reign in the power of massive conglomerates.
The first rally was in support of my legislation, the 21st Century Anti-Trust Act. This legislation would update our state's anti-trust laws for the first time in more than a century. The rally was organized by ALIGN NY and we were proudly joined by labor unions such as RWDSU and Teamsters.
The second rally was in support of the HEAL Act, which would update our state law to require health insurance companies and providers to guarantee equitable services and costs throughout an entire health system. For example, a health system that operates multiple locations may currently have different price points or service offerings at each individual location. This rally was joined by 32BJ as well as other labor unions, as well as many of my colleagues.
Poll of the Week: Accessible Pedestrian Signals
The poll last time asked "Do you support the right to choose whether or not to have an abortion?"
We had over 150 responses, and the results are below:
Yes, at any point and for any reason: 70%
Yes, but only before a certain point in the pregnancy: 22%
Sort of, only in cases of rape, incest, or medical necessity: 6%
No, not at any time: 3%
Undecided or No Opinion: 0%
This week's poll is about whether you have noticed the installation of Accessible Pedestrian Signals in our community. These are identifiable by a regularly occurring locator tone, which helps people with vision impairments know where the crossing signal is located.
Have you noticed the installation of new Accessible Pedestrian Signals in our community?
REMINDER: Shred Day in Kingsbridge on May 15 and Norwood on May 21
I am pleased to share that we will be bringing back free on-site paper shredding services to our community this spring. These events are self-service. Please mark the following dates in your calendars if you are interested:
When: Sunday, May 15, 2022 from 10am to 1pm
Where: My District Office (3107 Kingsbridge Avenue)
Where: Mosholu Montefiore Community Center (East Gun Hill Road side, 3450 Dekalb Avenue)
When: Saturday, June 4, 2022 from 10am to 1pm
Where: To Be Announced
When: Sunday, June 12, 2022 from 10am to 1pm
Where: To Be Announced (Johnson Avenue and West 235th Street vicinity)
We kindly ask that you keep the following guidelines in mind for our shredding events:
• Please be prepared to handle your own items to place them into the bins for shredding.
• Please remove any items that should not be shredded prior to your arrival at the shredding truck (ex: batteries, electronics, plastics, metals - paperclips, staples, binder clips are okay).
• If you have more than three bags/boxes of material to shred, please be mindful of those waiting behind you and get back in line to shred any remaining items.
Stay tuned for more details about where the shredding events in Norwood, Wakefield, and Riverdale will be located.
REMINDER: Nourish Food Event in Van Cortlandt Village on May 13 and Wakefield on May 17
My office will once again be co-hosting a set of NOURISH supplemental food nutrition programs in our community. This program can help older adults (60+) who earn less than $1,396 per month and less than $16,744 per year receive free food packages every month.
The information for those events is below:
VAN CORTLANDT VILLAGE
When: Friday, May 13 from 9a-12p
Where: Amalgamated Housing Cooperatiive, 74 Van Cortlandt Park S (entrance on corner of Hillman Ave and Van Cortlandt Park S)
These events are co-hosted by NY Common Pantry and Council Member Eric Dinowitz, and the Van Cortlandt Village event is also co-hosted by Amalgamated Housing Cooperative. Please contact NY Common Pantry at 917-982-2562 or Council Member Eric Dinowitz at 718-549-7300 with any questions.
REMINDER: MetroCard Van Services in Woodlawn and Central Riverdale Next on Tuesday, May 31