Cuomo Signs Legislation Allowing Campaign Fund Use For Childcare

    Gov. Andrew Cuomo

    Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo yesterday signed legislation (S.2680A/A.1108B) to allow state and local candidates to use campaign funds to pay for childcare expenses, enabling more parents to run for public office.

    “Women face too many barriers when it comes to running for office and frankly childcare expenses shouldn’t be one of them,” said Cuomo. “By signing this measure into law, we will build on the historic progress we’ve made toward gender equality and empower more parents – and mothers in particular – to seek public office to ensure the decision-makers in Albany reflect the people they are elected to represent.”

    Specifically, the bill amends state election law to allow campaign funds to be used to pay childcare expenses that are “incurred in the campaign or in the execution of the duties of public office or party position.” The bill’s provisions are effective in 60 days.

    In New York, about 33 percent of the state’s executive and legislative officials are women, compared with a national average of 29 percent of state executive and legislative officials, according to the Center for American Women and Politics.   

    Ocasio-Cortez Visits Queens Community House’s LGBTQ Senior Center

    U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

    U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Astoria, College Point, Corona, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Woodside, parts of the Bronx) kicked off the six-week Congressional recess on Monday with a visit to members at Queens Community House’s (QCH) LGBTQ Senior Center, Queens Center for Gay Seniors (QCGS) in Jackson Heights.

    “I’m excited to be in our community and to have important conversations and connect. That’s what I think representation at its best is all about. It’s community; it’s talking; it’s answering questions; but it’s also asking important questions. I can’t think of a better place in this district to kick off this whole tour, than right here at the Queens Center for Gay Seniors,” said Ocasio-Cortez.

    Ocasio-Cortez spent nearly two hours in conversation with the seniors. Topics of conversation included Census 2020, Healthcare, and LGBTQ issues, but members wanted to discuss more than local issues.  AOC later posted on social media, “One thing I loved about everyone’s questions is that they weren’t *just* concerned about our pocket of the country. People want to talk about solutions for West Virginia, Guam, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico.”

    Queens Center for Gay Seniors, operated by Queens Community House and has long been the meeting grounds for local LGBTQ leaders. The center provides a culturally-rich environment where older adults can engage with peers, make new friends, enjoy a hot meal, keep physically active, learn new skills and explore new interests, and give back through volunteer opportunities. The center’s tagline “We paved the way!” is a nod to its members’ longtime activism in LGBTQ communities in Queens and beyond.

    Meng Introduces Bill To Fight Against Gender-Based Violence

    U.S. Rep. Grace Meng

    U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D- Bayside, Flushing, Forest Hills, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Maspeth, Middle Village, Rego Park), a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, yesterday introduced legislation that would help improve U.S. efforts to combat gender-based violence in humanitarian emergencies across the globe. 

    Co-sponsors of the bipartisan bill included U.S. Reps. Chris Stewart (R-UT), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), and Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA).

    The Safe from the Start Act would codify the Department of State-United States Agency for International Development’s Safe from the Start Initiative, a program to prevent, mitigate, and respond to gender-based violence from the onset of humanitarian emergencies such as conflict settings and natural disasters.

    Gender-based violence is known to increase among refugees and those in these types of crisis environments. In fact, an estimated 1 in 5 women have experienced sexual violence during humanitarian emergencies, although the numbers are likely higher given the barriers associated with disclosure.

    “Gender-based violence threatens the lives of women and girls around the world – particularly those who are already vulnerable due to displacement from war, famine, or natural disaster,” said Meng. “Today, as we are witness to the largest flow of refugees in recorded history, protecting women and girls from gender-based violence must be a priority that is integrated fully into the U.S. Government’s humanitarian response. My legislation would help ensure that happens, and it would be a critical tool in improving prevention and mitigation efforts as well. We must do all we can to save lives and protect women and girls from these despicable and brutal acts of abuse and violence.”

    The legislation would also provide needed Congressional oversight, requiring the Secretary of State – in coordination with the Administrator of USAID – to submit a report to Congress detailing the progress made in preventing, mitigating, and addressing gender-based violence in humanitarian emergencies.

    Gianaris Calls On NYCHA To Expedite Lead Testing 

    State Senator Michael Gianaris

    Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside, parts of Woodside, Maspeth, Ridgewood, Woodhaven) yesterday called on NYCHA to prioritize lead testing in Queensbridge, Ravenswood, and Astoria Houses. 

    “Parents deserve to know if their children are safe in their homes. Our community cannot afford any more NYCHA delays,” said Gianaris. “I urge this testing to be completed expeditiously and the results made public thereafter.” 

    Earlier this year NYCHA announced a policy to test every apartment for lead, prioritizing developments with the most children under 6 years of age. Queensbridge, Ravenswood, and Astoria Houses have among the highest populations of such children in their developments. 

    Gianaris and the Senate Democratic Majority allocated over $100 million in funding for NYCHA capital repairs earlier this year and advocated for significant oversight of their operations along with this investment. Gianaris believes lead testing is critical and also authored legislation to mandate schools and parks have water fixtures tested for lead on a regular basis.   

    Van Bramer Proposes Protected Bike Lane Network in LIC

    City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer

    City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside), along with Transportation Alternatives, and Bike New York, today will demand the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) implement a comprehensive protected bike lane network in Long Island City.

    This proposal comes off the heels of this week’s news that the 18th cyclist in in the city was killed this week in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Another one of those 18 cyclists was LIC resident Robert Spencer, who was killed riding his bike on Borden Ave earlier this year. 

    The proposed network of protected bike lanes would be the first of its kind in all of New York City.

    Van Bramer and the bike advocates will officially make their demand at 9 a.m., today July 31 at the foot of the Pulaski Bridge Bike Path (Queens Side), Jackson Avenue and Pulaski Bridge in Long Island City.

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