August 2014 Update
The past few weeks have been a whirlwind. We’ve had good news – like the President’s announcement that same sex couples will finally be covered under the Family Medical Leave Act and disappointing news – such as the Hobby Lobby decision giving bosses control over a woman’s health care decisions. I’m doing everything I can to reverse the Hobby Lobby decision and have more information on that below.
I’ve also introduced a new bill to boost the participation of women and minorities in STEM careers, and the House passed a bill I authored to rename the Grand Central Station Post Office after historic New York labor leader Vincent Sombrotto. We reignited the campaign in Washington to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, and cut the ribbon on a new promenade in Queensbridge Park in New York.
Throughout the next few weeks I’ll be working hard to improve our communities by continuing to stand against the Marine Transfer Station near Asphalt Green and fighting for affordable housing in places like Stuy Town and Peter Cooper Village. I’ll also be doing everything I can to support or our City’s economy and create jobs by extending important federal programs like the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act and the Export-Import Bank, and more. And I’ll be continuing my efforts to protect college students from sexual assault on campus .
Read more about these initiatives and more below and be sure to follow me on Twitter @RepMaloney.
As always, please don’t hesitate to contact my office if you have any questions!
Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney
Maintaining Affordable Housing at Peter Cooper Stuy Town
Peter Cooper/Stuyvesant Town was envisioned as an affordable, middle class development, but several years ago a transfer of ownership to speculators led to an effort to drive out the middle class and raise rents to astronomical levels. It was shocking to learn that the transfer was largely financed through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two federal housing agencies that are supposed to be dedicated to making housing more affordable. I introduced legislation to ensure that these agencies could not finance a deal predicated on the need to convert as many affordable apartments to market rate as possible. And over the years I have written and spoken to the heads of those agencies and their regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Administration (FHFA), to demand answers and to insure that they would not invest in any future transaction. On June 10, 2014, Councilman Dan Garodnick and I wrote to my former colleague Mel Watt, who is now President of FHFA. He responded on June 26, 2014 saying: “Recently, [Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac] were approached by lenders on behalf of potential purchasers of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village to inquire about the availability of loans to refinance the existing debt. Both Enterprises responded to these inquiries by stating that they would not consider an application for financing until the affordability issues have been resolved to the satisfaction of both the City of New York and the tenants ' organization. FHFA has reaffirmed this position with the CEOs of both Enterprises.” Click here to read a PDF of the letter.
Addressing safety and air quality issues at the East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station
New Yorkers were shocked by the recent accident at the construction site for the East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station. A work crew used improper equipment while moving a manhole cover, and sent a large drill bit forty feet in the air and through the window at Asphalt Green, showering an employee with glass and nearly hitting her. The woman was taken to the hospital and treated, but was able to return to work quickly. The drill bit could easily have killed her or, if it had flown in the other direction, caused serious injury to children on the playing field at Asphalt Green. I immediately wrote to Mayor de Blasio and said: “I urge you to stop all work on this project pending a full and complete investigation. I urge you to hold a public presentation to the community explaining what will be done to ensure the safety of residents, users of Asphalt Green and the children who play on Asphalt Green’s fields. No further work should be done at the site during the summer camp season and until the investigation and public presentation have been made.” I have followed up this letter with a second letter urging him not to resume work until summer camp is over. Finally, air quality in the blocks surrounding the East 91st Street MTS is among the worst in the City, and while air quality has improved elsewhere, these blocks remain bad. We have learned that air quality at the construction site is being further degraded, and that there were 25 exceedences between June 2 and June. I have written to the Environmental Protection Agency to ask them to take a look at the site’s impact on air quality in this area.
Seawall At Queensbridge Park Restored
Queensbridge Park is back and better than ever. For nearly two decades, dangerous conditions along the deteriorating seawall at Queensbridge Park have kept people away from the river’s edge. Spurred by Elizabeth McQueen and Friends of Queensbridge Park, I created a task force in 2004 to bring city, state and federal officials together to develop a plan to repair the seawall. Last year, with the funding finally in place thanks to the generosity of the City, the City Council and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, we broke ground. On July 8, 2014, I joined my colleagues in government and community leaders for the ribbon-cutting. The new park features a promenade, a fishing pier, new benches, new planting, spectacular views and access to the riverfront. Learn more about the ribbon-cutting ceremony in the story from the Western Queens Gazette and come visit a truly beautiful part of New York City.
House passes bill to rename Grand Central Station Post Office to honor Vincent Sombrotto
On July 14, the House of Representatives passed a bill (HR 2291) that I introduced to rename the Grand Central Station Post Office, located at 450 Lexington Avenue in New York City, the Vincent R. Sombrotto Post Office. As the President of NALC, Mr. Sombrotto helped move letter carriers into the middle class by securing wage increases and making sure that letter carriers received the labor protections they deserve. Mr. Sombrotto also initiated the life-saving Carrier Alert program and the NALC food drive, which continues to be held on the second Saturday of every May. To date, letter carriers have collected more than 1.2 billion pounds of food for families in need throughout the United States. Click here to read more.
Hobby Lobby decision proves the need for Equal Rights Amendment
As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's forceful dissent put it, the 5-4 decision rendered in the Hobby Lobby case is one "of startling breadth" that is going to create a "minefield. If the Equal Rights Amendment were in the Constitution, this case could have had a different outcome. To make it abundantly clear that women must always and forever be accorded equal justice and equal protection under the law, women need the weight of the U.S. Constitution to ensure that the principle of "liberty and justice for all" applies equally to women in all areas of society. An Equal Rights Amendment would constitutionally protect American women against discrimination on the basis of gender. Read more about this issue in my op-ed at USAToday.com.
New Campus SaVE rules to protect college students from sexual assault
I authored Campus SaVE to update the Clery Act so we can get better data on campus sexual assault and do more to protect our students. On June 19, The Department of Education issued draft rules, which will require universities to include data on sexual assault in their security reports, and make sure students are aware of their rights and campus policies related to sexual assault. I am working on new legislation to continue addressing this issue. Read about the draft rules in the Washington Post.
Working to ban tanning bed use by minors
In 2007, I passed the TAN Act with the goal of getting warning labels placed on tanning beds. Those labels, which indicate that the beds should not be used by those under 18 years old, will be required starting later this year. Even so, minors are still allowed to use the devices even though they are unsafe. In June, I held a press conference to call on the FDA to ban the use of tanning beds by those under 18 years old. Each year, two to three million teens under 18 use tanning beds, and skin cancers are now the second most common form of cancer for young women age 15 to 29. Watch this important report from Pix 11 to learn more about my work and the risks.
Cheering on new medical leave rules to protect same-sex couples
The Department of Labor has officially extended Family and Medical Leave Act protections to married same-sex couples. As someone who has long fought for equality and so that same-sex couples can enjoy the same FMLA leave rights as anyone else, I am thrilled that the Obama Administration has taken action. Finally, all married couples, regardless of whether their home state recognizes same-sex marriages, will have access to family and medical leave. This is another win in the battle for equality and a win for hard-working Americans who have suffered a personal or a loved one’s health-related setback but haven’t been entitled to take time off, until now. Read more at my website.
Working to boost small business jobs and protect exports
The Export-Import Bank helps businesses large and small finance the export of American made goods abroad. However, the bank’s charter is set to expire at the end of September, fueling concern from New York businesses that local jobs could be lost if the charter is not extended. On July 21, I joined Susan Axelrod, owner of Love & Quiches, the CEO of Ecological Laboratories, Inc. Michael Richter, Bob Kapuskinski of Global Export Marketing Company, Tom Cummings of the Export Import Bank and Joe Schoonmaker of the New York District Export Council and trade insurance broker with Risk Protection International LLC to call on Congress to extend the bank’s charter.Fox 5 has the story.
One step closer to passing the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act
After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, many insurance companies excluded terrorism events from their insurance policies. As a result, development and construction in New York City ground to a halt, costing us jobs. The federal government stepped in with TRIA which provides a backstop in case of another attack. This allowed insurance companies to take the risk, which enabled banks to lend and developers to begin building again.TRIA restarted real development in our city but it’s scheduled to expire at the end of this year. I’m working hard to pass a bill to extend the program. Click here to read more.
New bill to encourage women and minorities in STEM fields
I’ve introduced new legislation to establish a competitive grant program administered by the National Science Foundation that would encourage more women and minorities to enter the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). Women today make up half of the current workforce, yet they still hold less than a quarter of all STEM jobs. Minority populations including African-American, Hispanic, and Asian populations make up only a quarter of the STEM workforce. The Women and Minorities in STEM Booster Act of 2014 (H.R. 4833) will help bring more women and minorities into STEM education to diversify our country’s potential in the manufacturing sector, a vital industry that will allow for America to remain competitive in the global economy.Read more about the bill.