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MAHN Lawmakers May 8, 2019

Manhattan Lawmakers on the Move bannner

Hoylman, Gottfried Rally Support For Bills Decriminalizing New York Sex Trade

Richard N. Gottfried
Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried
State Senator Brad Hoylman
State Senator Brad Hoylman

Assembly member Richard Gottfried (D-Chelsea, Midtown), Assembly Health Chair, and State Senator Brad Hoylman (D-Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea, Greenwich Village, UWS,  Midtown/East Midtown, Columbus Circle, Times Square, LES), Senate Judiciary Chair, yesterday rallied alongside 100+ sex workers, trafficking survivors, and advocates in Albany in support of legislation aimed at reforming sex worker laws.

The coalition, rallied in support of two measures: bill S02253/A00654 (Hoylman/Paulin), which repeals loitering for the purposes of prostitution, also known as the Walking While Trans ban, and bill S04981/A06983 (Ramos, Salazar/Gottfried), which allows trafficking survivors to clear charges from their records for crimes their traffickers forced them to commit.

The first bill, repeals the loitering for the purposes of prostitution statute. This statute, commonly known as the “Walking While Trans” ban, allows police to profile, harass, and arrest trans people for “waving at a car” and “wearing a skirt.” Between 2012 and 2015, 85% of people who were charged with this crime were Black and Latinx. Last year, these arrests increased 188%, according to the coalition.

The second bill, S04981/A06983, passed out of Senate Codes committee with a vote of 9-4-1 yesterday and will advance to the floor for a vote.

“It’s time for New York to take a new approach, rooted in compassion rather than criminalization. I look forward to working to pass this measure with the support of my colleagues in both houses,” said Hoylman.

“New York’s 2010 vacatur statute was a national model, but it still leaves too many survivors prosecuted for other offenses that labor and sex traffickers force them to commit. The bill would also allow judges to vacate prior convictions without the victim needing documentation proving they were victims of trafficking. The vacatur bill has passed the Assembly the last two years and I’m hopeful that our new Senate Majority will help us make it law.”

Chin Demands Full Funding Of Senior Center Meals, Living Wage For Kitchen Staff

Council Member Margaret Chin
Council Member Margaret Chin

City Council member Margaret Chin (D-Battery Park City, Chinatown), after Chairing the Committee on Aging’s Executive Budget Hearing this week, demanded for an increase in funding for senior center meals and kitchen salaries.

This is a renewed call from Chin who in March called on Mayor Bill de Blasio to “build a fairer city for all ages,” following a packed model budget hearing. Nearly 250 senior centers operated by DFTA (Department For the Aging) provide close to 30,000 seniors a meal per day. Despite these figures, kitchen staff and food costs were omitted from the model budget funding process. The result is a workforce with high turnover rates and senior centers left struggling to fill badly-needed vacancies.  According to testimony from United Neighborhood Houses, one senior center went six months with a job vacancy for a kitchen employee.

According to the National Council on Aging, seniors who attend senior centers experience improvements in their social, mental, and economic well-being. Studies also show that seniors who go to senior centers can learn to manage and even postpone the beginning of a chronic illness.By 2040, older adults will make up roughly 21 percent of the City’s population making them one of the fastest growing groups in New York.

“The last across-the-board increase in senior meal funding was in 2014, and that was to the tune of a paltry 25 cents for a regular meal and 50 cents for a kosher meal. Five years later, with more and more seniors depending on their neighborhood center for nutrition, we know that the urgency to invest in senior center meals has grown,” said Chin.

“At today’s Aging Hearing on the Executive Budget, we renewed our call to the Administration to fully invest in senior center meals and kitchen salaries. To build a fair City for all ages, we have to stop playing games with senior funding,” added Chin.

Speaker Johnson Announce Restored Funding For Vital Programs, Services in FY 2020

Council Member Corey Johnson (Credit: Jeff Reed)

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen) alongside Finance Committee Chair Daniel Dromm (D-Queens) and Capital Budget Subcommittee Chair Vanessa L. Gibson (D-Bronx) yesterday announced an agreement to restore over $77 million in funding for vital programs and services in the Fiscal 2020 Budget.

These programs and services, all of which were deemed priorities in the Council’s Preliminary Budget Response, include adult literacy programs, the addition of 5,000 Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) slots, Restorative Justice programs, and the Home Delivered Meals Rate increase.

Prior to this agreement, funding for the Bridge the Gap social workers was the only item included in the Mayor’s Executive Budget from the list of so-called “one-shot” programs and services funded in Fiscal 2019. These “one-shots” are funded in the Fiscal 2019 Budget, based on negotiations between the Council and the de Blasio Administration. The absence of the “one-shots” would result in a year-over-year service reduction.

The Council is fighting to restore all of the “one shots” from Fiscal 2019 to the upcoming budget. The $77 million restoration amounts to about half of the “one-shot’ allocations. Negotiations on other Council priorities continues, as well as a more in depth review of the Mayor’s Fiscal 2020 Executive Budget in the weeks ahead.

“These programs and services are critical for our communities, which is why it was a priority for this Council to get them funded. We know that they rely on city funding to help give our constituents the resources they need, and we were not going to let them down. From services at senior centers to translation services at poll sites to tree stump removal, these are all essential services that help run our city. We will keep fighting for a responsible budget for all New Yorkers,” said Speaker Johnson.

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