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MAHN Lawmakers On The Move April 30, 2019

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Rosenthal To Hold Joint Hearing on Sexual Harassment & Gender Discrimination In NYC Schools

Council Member Helen Rosenthal
Council Member Helen Rosenthal

The City Council Committees on Women and Gender Equity, Education and Higher Education – chaired by Council Members Helen Rosenthal (D-UWS, Central Park, Lincoln Square, Clinton), Mark Treyger (D-Brooklyn), and Inez Barron (D-Brooklyn) – today will hold a joint hearing regarding sexual harassment and gender discrimination in New York City schools, and Title IX’s role in creating a fair and safe educational environment for all students.

Since 1972, federal law Title IX has played a critical role in protecting students from gender-based discrimination in any educational program or activity that receives federal funding. Over time there have been efforts to increase and strengthen these protections, including Obama era guidance on establishing Title IX “coordinators” in local school districts, and the designation of gender identity and expression as protected categories.

The Council Members will review whether NYC schools are adequately prepared to protect students under Title IX rule changes proposed by the Trump administration. In late 2018, The Education Department announced proposed changes to the IX protections like narrowing the definition of sexual harassment and requiring that schools allow representatives of the accused — often lawyers — to cross-examine complainants at live hearings.

With 1.1 million students, New York City has the largest school district in the country, but currently only one Title IX coordinator. In its response to the Mayor’s preliminary budget, the City Council requested funding in the City budget for the DOE to hire 7 additional Title IX Coordinators. That funding was not included in the Mayor’s executive budget, released last week.

Two pieces of legislation related to Title IX’s mission to protect students from sex discrimination will also be reviewed at tomorrow’s hearing:

  • Introduction 1536, sponsored by Rosenthal and co-sponsored by Treyger, requires the Commission on Gender Equity to report on Title IX provisions, compliance, and outcomes. The City will have to report publicly on its efforts to prevent and mediate discrimination in local schools, as well as key findings regarding how best to combat sex and gender discrimination.
  • Resolution 797, sponsored by Council Member Adrienne Adams (D-Queens) and co-sponsored by Treyger, calls upon the NYC Department of Education to maintain at least seven Title IX Coordinators, with a minimum of one coordinator per borough

The hearing is slated for 1 p.m., today, April 30, in the City Hall Committee Room in Lower Manhattan.

Nadler, Velazquez Support 2-Way Tolling on Verrazzano

U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler
Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez

Over the weekend, U.S. Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-Western Brooklyn, Western Manhattan), and Nydia Velázquez (D-Brooklyn, LES, Queens) joined forces in support of a federal effort to bring two-way tolling back to the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge.

Split tolling would cut the current fares in half to be paid in both directions, leading to less congestion from out-of-state toll shoppers while increasing revenue to fund Staten Island and South Brooklyn transportation investments. The crossing for the iconic bridge shot up to staggering $19 from $17 for non-E-ZPass holders in late March, making it the highest toll in the United States.

Reinstating two way tolls on the Verrazzano would help reduce congestion on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE), officials and traffic advocates say. The tolls are an integral part of several proposed solutions to rebuilding a decrepit 1.5-mile stretch of the BQE near the Brooklyn Bridge.

“All New Yorkers, will reap the benefits of the restoration of two-way toll collection, from new additional revenue for the MTA and fewer trucks on the Staten Island Expressway, Gowanus Expressway, Manhattan Bridge and Canal & Broome Streets in Lower Manhattan. Finally, it is important to note that in conjunction with this announcement the MTA has agreed to seek strategic investments in mass transit for the residents of South Brooklyn and Staten Island in the next MTA Capital Plan,” said Nadler.

“The solution being announced today will mean less congestion, safer streets and better air quality in our communities. It will reduce wear and tear on Brooklyn, Manhattan and Staten Island infrastructure like the BQE, Gowanus Expressway, Manhattan Bridge and Canal Street. This agreement will also yield additional funds to be invested in greater transit options for the local area,” said Velazquez.

Brewer, Kallos , Rosenthal Support Making Early Voting Easy

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer
Council Member Ben Kallos
Council Member Ben Kallos
Council Member Helen Rosenthal
Council Member Helen Rosenthal

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and City Council Members Ben Kallos (D-East Harlem, Midtown, Murray Hill, Roosevelt Island, UES) and Helen Rosenthal (D-UWS, Central Park, Lincoln Square, Clinton) yesterday supported Mayor de Blasio in urging the Board of Elections (BOE) to use $75 million dedicated in his Executive Budget to open 100 early voting sites.

Early voting requires the BOE to offer New Yorkers the opportunity to vote for nine days prior to Election Day. In addition to helping seniors, people with disabilities, parents and people who have a difficult work schedule, early voting can potentially help prevent long lines, confusion and broken ballot machines on Election Day, which New Yorkers experienced in the 2018 General Election.

In the most recent legislative session, the State passed crucial electoral reforms to make voting easier for New Yorkers, including consolidating state and federal primaries, authorizing the use of electronic poll books and providing early voting for nine days prior to election day. In his Fiscal Year 2020 Executive Budget, the Mayor allocated $96 million for these reforms, including $75 million to provide early voting for three election cycles in 2019.

“New Yorkers are busy—which is why New York City needs early voting,” said Brewer. “We’ve gotten used to being ahead of the curve, but New York has been late to the game on early voting. I thank Mayor de Blasio for allocating $75 million towards a comprehensive early voting plan, and I look forward to seeing a Board of Elections plan that includes making sure that all early voting locations are accessible and convenient.”

New York State finally being able to participate in early voting will make a difference in improving voter turnout and engagement,” said Kallos. “We must get this right as a City and make sure that we distribute early voting locations fairly and appropriately for this to run smoothly. I commend Mayor de Blasio for setting aside $75 million for the BOE simply to make sure early voting happens without a hitch. This is a historic moment in our City and State’s history which we should all be looking forward to.”

“Early voting is absolutely critical to an accessible and fair democratic process. I wholeheartedly join the Mayor’s call for the robust and fair distribution of early voting locations, and am delighted to see that at least 100 locations are already funded. In 2015, my office launched Student Voter Registration Day, which brought thousands of New York City high school students on to the voter rolls, and thanks to Mayor de Blasio’s DemocracyNYC initiative, opportunities for civic engagement only continue to grow,” said Rosenthal.

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