Council will also vote on legislation to extend rent increase exemptions for disabled New Yorkers and two bills to require better access to the City Record and city laws online

City Hall – Today the City Council will vote on legislation to install door alarms in schools under the jurisdiction of the New York City Department of Education to prevent unaccounted for departures from the premises by students. The Council will also vote on legislation to allow an increase the minimum income threshold for the Disability Rent Increase Exemption program. Additionally, the Council will vote on two pieces of legislation to make city laws and the City Record more accessible to the public online. Lastly, the Council will vote on approval of three nominees to the City Planning Commission.

School Door Alarms

Intro No. 131-A, or “Avonte’s Law” – named for Avonte Oquendo, an autistic teenager who went missing in October when he left his school through an unattended exit door – would require the Department of Education (DOE), in consultation with the Police Department, to evaluate and prioritize the installation of door alarms at the exterior doors of school buildings. Priority schools include those serving students in grades pre-kindergarten through five and District 75 programs serving students with severe disabilities. By no later than May 30th, 2015, the DOE would be required to submit to the Council a list of schools where door alarms have been deemed appropriate and provide a timeline for installation. All public schools, including charter schools located on DOE property, will be subject to this evaluation. In addition, the DOE will be required to submit an annual report regarding training on student safety protocols for DOE personnel.

“Avonte’s Law will make our educational facilities safer for students and give parents the peace of mind they deserve when they send their children to school for the day,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “The DOE must thoroughly examine the need for security measures that will prevent unauthorized departures from school premises by students.”

“I’m proud that my first bill as a new member of the City Council addresses a problem that is important to my own constituents and all the parents of New York City,” said Council Member Robert Cornegy. “I believe that the Department of Education has been persuaded that where appropriate, door alarms are not only a prudent but a necessary investment in the safety of our children. I know that the Oquendos, the Talley-Jaspers, advocates for this bill and my fellow Council co-sponsors share my commitment to ensuring that we never again see images like those that haunted us in the case of Avonte Oquendo. Our children are too precious to let them slip out of our safe care. I look forward to working with the Department of Education on implementation of this bill and as soon as possible, to seeing the actual installation of door alarms in schools across the city.”

Disability Rent Increase Exemption

Currently, under the disability rent increase exemption (DRIE) program, individuals that receive State or federal disability assistance are eligible to be exempted from future rent increases if they live in rent regulated housing and have a maximum annual income of $20,412 or $29,484 for households of two or more persons. The State has authorized the City to raise the income threshold for all households to $50,000 which will allow thousands of disabled New Yorkers to freeze their rents, helping them to remain in affordable housing. The income increase would be retroactive to July 1, 2014 and without further State action will expire on July 1, 2016.

”The DRIE program is a critical tool in the City’s affordable housing arsenal. DRIE supports vulnerable tenants struggling to pay escalating rents while living on restricted incomes. Raising the income eligibility cap is a common sense move to provide a safety net for those New Yorkers most in need.” says Council Member Helen Rosenthal (D-Manhattan). “This bill will also address the eligibility disparity between the DRIE and SCRIE programs, an unconscionable discrepancy that this Council is acting swiftly to correct.”

Publishing of City Laws and the City Record Online

Intro No. 149-A would require the Law Department to make the City Charter, Administrative Code, and Rules available through its website in a user friendly format or formats. This would codify the Law Department’s current practice of posting these compilations online, and would improve the practice by ensuring that they are in a more useful format.

Additionally, Intro. No. 363-A would require the City Record to be published online in a format that is searchable by date of publication, relevant agency, keyword, and category. It would build on the current practice of publishing each day’s edition of the City Record online as a single file.

“Ignorance of the law is no excuse. But how can New Yorkers know the laws if they can’t find them online? This law will make sure that all New York City laws are easily accessible and searchable online. I am glad to join Council Members Kallos and Vacca in continuing to move the City forward in using technology to make essential government information easily and meaningfully available to New Yorkers,” said Council Member Brad Lander.

“Transparent government means laws and notices that are online where New Yorkers expect to find them. Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito has been an incredible leader in bringing reform to the City Council in her first months that many have spent years trying to accomplish in Albany,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, “Millennia ago, Hamurabi put the law on stone tablets so that the people could see the laws that governed them. In the 21st Century, that means putting them online, and Council Member Lander’s OpenLaw legislation will do exactly that. I am also pleased to vote on City Record Online, co-sponsored with Council Member Vacca. Government information currently printed daily in the City Record with important information like meetings, procurement, and city planning will now be online, complete and up to date, to inform citizens, empower public-private partnerships by enabling apps and make our government more accessible.”

Mayor’s Appointments to City Planning Commission

The City Council will vote on approval of three of Mayor de Blasio’s nominees to the City Planning Commission. Cheryl Cohen Effron of Manhattan will serve for a five-year term that expires on June 30th, 2019. Bomee Jung of Brooklyn will serve for the remainder of a five-year term that expires on June 30th, 2018. Larisa Ortiz of Queens will serve the remainder of a five-year-term that expires on June 30th, 2017.