Council will also vote on “Build It Back” Program and Reporting Requirements for the NYPD CPR/AED Training Program

City Hall – Today the New York City Council will vote on legislation to establish and enhance important protections for freelance workers throughout the city. The Council will also vote on a package of legislation to increase oversight of services offered across the New York City foster care system. Next, the Council will vote to expand existing laws requiring Department of Correction personnel to provide assistance in registering eligible incarcerated persons to vote to include the provision of absentee ballots and absentee ballot request forms. Additionally, a vote will be held on legislation requiring agencies participating in the agency-based voter registration law to assist individuals in opting into the organ donation program. Finally, the Council will vote on mandated reporting for the NYPD CPR and AED training program.

Establishing and Enhancing Protections for Freelance Workers

An estimated 1.3 million freelance workers reside in New York City, and many of these individuals routinely face difficulties collecting payment for their services. Under current law, failure to pay a freelance worker is a breach of contract and legal actions to recover damages are adjudicated under state law. This bill would enhance legal remedies available to freelance workers in the City as detailed below:

Introduction 1017-C, sponsored by Council Member Brad Lander, would enhance legal remedies available to freelance workers by codifying the following rights into local law:

  • Right to written contract. The bill would require a written contract for freelance services valued at $800 or more. Failure to create a written contract would entitle the freelance worker: to damages of $250 if the freelancer requested and was denied a written contract, and the hiring party otherwise paid on time and in full; and damages equal to the value of the contract if the hiring party also violated other provisions of the law.
  • Right to be paid timely and in full. Currently, failure to pay in full would be a breach of contract and an aggrieved freelance worker can sue in state court to recover the actual damages suffered. This bill would require the hiring party to pay the freelance worker on time and in full within 30 days of completion of the work. Under this local law, the aggrieved freelance worker would be entitled to collect double damages, attorney’s fees and court costs.
  • Right to be free of retaliation. The bill would prohibit retaliation against a freelance worker for exercising the rights created by this local law. Damages for retaliation would equal the full value of the contract.

To enforce their rights under this local law, aggrieved freelancers would file a civil action in state court. Where there is a pattern or practice of violations, the Corporation Counsel could bring action to enjoin bad actors and collect penalties on behalf of the City.

This bill would also require the Office of Labor Standards (OLS) to receive complaints from freelance workers and forward those complaints to the hiring parties, along with information about the rights granted to freelance workers under this law. In addition, OLS would be required to create a navigation program to provide information and resources about the provisions of this local law, and to gather data and report on the effectiveness of the law at improving contracting and payment practices in the freelance economy.

“Freelance work has long played an important role in the New York City economy, and that role only continues to grow as we see more investment in the alternative labor market,” said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “Leading the way in extending protections to such an essential part of our local workforce is a responsibility that the City Council takes very seriously. This bill provides important new protections for our freelance workers, and I thank Council Member Brad Lander for his work on getting this vital legislation passed.”

“Today, New York City is becoming the first city in the nation to protect freelancers and independent contractors from getting stiffed,” said Council Member Brad Lander, Chair of the Committee on Rules, Privileges and Elections. “This means new protections for NYC’s 1.3 million freelancers – for people like Elizabeth McKenzie, a freelancer in film production who lived on bread and rolls, and worked in the dark because she couldn’t pay her utility bills after getting stiffed for $2,500 she had earned. Like Mauricio Niebla, part of a group of 40 writers and editors cheated out of a total of $400,000 by a national publishing company. Like Just Raymona, a pattern-maker from the Bronx, who paid the people she owed out of her savings when she was stiffed, but couldn’t pay her own rent or phone bill. The Freelance Isn’t Free Act will make sure all workers can get paid for their work, on-time and in full. Thank you to the Freelancers Union for their leadership, to Speaker Mark-Viverito, and to my Council colleagues for helping NYC lead the way in writing new rules for the economy, so all workers have the supports and protections they deserve.”

Special Provisions for the “Build It Back” Disaster Recovery Program

Some owners of homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy and enrolled in the “Build It Back” disaster recovery program have been unable to start repair work because of issues with the construction permitting process. For example, owners may not be able to obtain permits because they have certain violations associated with their property.

Introduction 1341, sponsored by Council Member Mark Treyger, would provide a pathway for allowing these homeowners to start needed repair and elevation work while dealing with the violations and other conditions separately.

“Four long years after Hurricane Sandy, many New Yorkers are still waiting to be able to return home,” said Council Member Mark Treyger, Chair of the Committee on Recovery and Resiliency. “We cannot allow red tape or sluggish bureaucracy to continue to delay the full recovery of the families enrolled in the Build it Back program. I am proud to sponsor this long-overdue legislation, in partnership with the Mayor. This bill is designed to remove unnecessary obstacles that have prevented the Build it Back program from moving forward, while ensuring that rigorous safety standards are upheld.”

Increasing Oversight for the New York City Foster Care System

Last October, the Committee on General Welfare and the Committee on Youth Services sponsored a Foster Youth Shadow Day, where young people involved in the New York City foster care system were invited to meet with council members and tour City Hall. Through those conversations, and subsequent follow up meetings, the City Council was able to draft a package of legislation addressing the specific needs of those living inside the foster care system.

Introduction 1190-A, sponsored by Council Member Stephen Levin, would require ACS to submit to the Speaker of the Council and post on its website annual reports on the educational stability of children in foster care. The reports would include the percentage of children in foster care who remained in their school of origin upon their initial entry into foster care and who remained in their school of origin after transferring foster homes, the percentage of children in foster care who did not return to their school of origin, and the average school attendance rates of children in foster care.

Introduction 1191-A, sponsored by Council Member Stephen Levin, would require ACS to submit to the Speaker of the Council and post on its website a five-year plan to address barriers to permanency for youth in foster care. The plan required pursuant to the bill would include a case study of a statistically significant sample of children who have spent at least two years in foster care, which would include demographic information, permanency plans, the length of time in care, and the barriers to permanency for the 300 children. The plan would also include an analysis of how ACS plans to address the systemic barriers to permanency identified during the case study. The proposed five-year plan would be updated by ACS annually and in the fifth year covered by the plan ACS would submit a new plan.

Introduction 1192-A, sponsored by Council Member Stephen Levin, would require an interagency task force to develop and submit to the Mayor and the Speaker recommendations for improving services for youth in foster care and outcomes for youth aging out of foster care. The task force would include representatives of ACS, DSS, DOE, DYCD, DOMHM, NYCHA, the City Council, the Public Advocate, foster care providers, advocacy organizations, and youth who are in foster care and youth who have recently aged out of foster care, and a parent with child welfare experience. The task force would be required to submit recommendations regarding education, housing, financial literacy, health and mental health services, parenting, decreasing the number of youth who age out of foster care, and prioritizing permanent placements of youth with families before they age out. The task force would also be required to submit follow-up reports regarding implementation of the recommendations.

“Children and youth in the City’s care are some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers and it our collective responsibility to ensure that each of them has a safe, loving home and access to comprehensive services,” said Council Member Stephen Levin, Chair of the Committee on General Welfare. “These bills are especially important because many of them are a direct response to the firsthand experiences of youth in care. I look forward to continuing to work with young people, advocates, agencies, and my City Council colleagues to improve how our City protects and provides for our children.”

Introduction 1197-A, sponsored by Public Advocate Letitia James and Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, would make amendments to Local Law 46 of 2014 which requires ACS to report on youth in foster care and youth that have recently aged out of foster care. The bill would expand certain age disaggregation reporting and require ACS to report on the total population of youth currently in care, broken down by age. The bill would also require ACS to report on the number of youth who enter a homeless shelter within 30 days, 90 days, 180 days and 1 year of aging out of care, the number of youth who receive benefits from the Human Resources Administration within 30 days and 60 days of being discharged form foster care, and the number of youth who age out and transition to Medicaid without a gap in coverage. The bill would make several technical amendments and would also require ACS to make all reports required pursuant to the proposed bill available on its website.

“The moment when young people in foster care age out of the system is a critical juncture, and as a City we must be sure they are set on a path for success,” said Council Member Julissa Fererras-Copeland. “Knowing how these young people interact with our City’s services after aging out is an important way to guide our policymaking and I hope this bill will give us the information to help tailor our support to better fit their needs. I would like to thank the Public Advocate for her leadership on this initiative, Councilmember Steve Levin for his engagement on the General Welfare Committee, and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for her unwavering support.”

“After a childhood full of uncertainties, we must ensure that youth aging out of foster care don’t enter an adulthood of uncertainties,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “This bill will create a more thorough method for tracking youth that age out of our foster care system to help us identify challenges they face, and how to better prepare for them. We must provide our young people with the support they need to succeed and this bill is an important step toward that worthy goal.”

Introduction 1187-A, sponsored by Council Member Daniel Dromm, amends Local Law 48 of 2014 which requires the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) to report on whether youth currently in foster care and youth who have recently aged out of care possess government-issued identification, disaggregated by the type of identification. The bill would require the reporting of additional information relating to identification. In addition, ACS would be required to make all reports required pursuant to the proposed bill available on its website.

“This joint effort to strengthen NYC’s foster care system will improve the lives of thousands of young New Yorkers,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm. “My legislation will help these youth obtain identification by improving Administration for Children’s Services reporting practices. I am proud to be part of this work which will ensure that all those in foster care have equal access to city services.”

Introduction 1199-A, sponsored by Council Member Donovan Richards, would require ACS to provide to all youth in foster care ages 13 and older an annual survey regarding their experiences in foster care. For youth residing with foster parents, the surveys would be administered in a location other than the foster parent’s home. The surveys would include questions about youth’s experiences in areas including access to food and clothing; religious practices; relationships with foster families, biological families and friends; personal allowances; education and extracurricular activities; and internet and phone access. The bill would also require ACS to aggregate the data from the surveys and report it to the City Council and post it on their website on an annual basis.

“It is truly heartbreaking to hear the stories of foster youth being denied the simple things most children take for granted, such as having access to food and clothing, permission to practice their religion, internet and phone access and personal allowances,” said Council Member Donovan Richards. “That’s why I sponsored Introduction 1199-A, which requires all youth in foster care ages 13 and older the opportunity to fill out an anonymous survey about their experience with their foster parents. This survey will help us make sure that the only foster parents in our system are those who have the best interest of every child in mind. I’d like to thank Speaker Mark Viverito, Council Members Levin and Eugene, Andrea Vazquez in our Legislative Division, my Director of Legislation Jordan Gibbons and the Administration of Children’s Services for all of their hard work in crafting this package of bills that will surely go a long way towards improving the lives of our foster children.”

Introduction 1205-A, sponsored by Council Member Laurie Cumbo, would amend Local Law 49 of 2014 which requires ACS to report on high school graduation rates of youth in foster care. The bill would make technical amendments to age disaggregation categories in the local law and would add whether youth in foster care are on track to graduate high school in five years. The proposed bill would also require ACS to make all reports required pursuant to the proposed bill available on its website.

“Every youth, irrespective of their socioeconomic status or background, deserves an equal opportunity to succeed as scholars and professionals,” said Council Member Laurie Cumbo. “With nearly 10,000 children and youth under the care of the Administration for Children’s Services, we must ensure that the proper resources are in place to support their continued growth and development within and beyond the foster care system. I am proud that my bill, Intro 1205, will enable us to assess the academic progression of high school-aged youth in foster care.”

Voter Registration Organ Donation Opt-In and Absentee Ballot Assistance

Voter registration forms contain an optional section that allows individuals to register for the donation of their organs and tissues for transplantation or medical research upon their death. In light of lagging organ donation enrollment, the Council will be voting on the following measure to increase the reach of enrollment promotion:

Introduction 796, sponsored by Council Member Costa Constantinides, seeks to increase the number of people volunteering for the organ donation registry by requiring agencies participating in the agency-based voter registration law to also assist the public in completing the organ donation section of the form.

“Our state ranks at the bottom in percent of residents who are registered organ donors,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides. “More needs to be done to encourage people to donate.  Introduction 796 will encourage donation and help increase the number of potential organ donors in our city by making it easier for people to register as an organ donor.  I am proud to raise awareness about the desperate need for more organ donors.  I thank Speaker Mark-Viverito, Governmental Operations Committee Chair Ben Kallos, and my Council colleagues for their support of this important health policy.”

The Department of Correction, as a participating agency under the agency-based voter registration law, is required to distribute and provide assistance in completing voter registration forms. However, current law does not require DOC personnel to provide eligible incarcerated individuals with absentee ballots, or to assist in completing them.

Introduction 464-A, sponsored by Council Member Ruben Wills, would require the Department of Correction to distribute absentee ballot applications and absentee ballots to incarcerated registered voters. The agency would also be required to provide assistance in completing the forms and submitting them to the New York City Board of Elections, for any primary, special or general election.

“A criminal justice system that is already disproportionately tilted against persons of color should neither obstruct nor completely sever every lasting means by which the incarcerated can maintain their place in society,” said Council Member Ruben Wills. “For generations, people awaiting trial that were too poor to secure bail had been denied their constitutional right to vote. The Detainee Absentee Voting Bill, Introduction 464, will begin to change that course, but still more work lies ahead to provide even greater equality, as nearly 100,000 individuals in New York State who have a felony conviction continue to be deprived of that right. I want to thank Governmental Operations Committee Chair Ben Kallos, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and the De Blasio Administration for their enthusiastic support of this legislation.”

Mandated Reporting on CPR/AED Training for Law Enforcement Officers

In 2010, Briana Ojeda, an 11-year-old girl from Brooklyn, suffered an asthma attack. An NYPD officer who was present at the scene was unable to render aid because he was not sufficiently trained in CPR procedures. Later that year, ‘Briana’s Law’ – requiring all police officers to be trained in CPR and to demonstrate satisfactory completion of such training every two years – was introduced in New York State Assembly. Having been reintroduced in every session since then, the bill finally passed in April 2016 – however, it has yet to be called for a floor vote in the NYS Senate.

The City Council will be voting on a resolution to call upon the New York State legislature to pass Briana’s Law. In order to increase the transparency of a similar measure already existing in New York City, the Council will also vote on the following legislation:

Introduction 83-A, sponsored by Council Member Stephen Levin, would require the NYPD to provide an annual report on the number of patrol, transit, and PSA officers that are trained and re-trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillation (AED). In a separate report, the Department would have to report on the same information for school safety agents.

“In order to save lives, New York’s finest must receive the highest quality training in life-saving CPR and AED skills,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “These are commonsense measures that would help to improve the chance of survival for victims of cardiac arrest. They ensure that first responders are well-equipped to respond with speed and skill so that they can continue to protect and serve New Yorkers.”

Rezoning of East 147th Street in Mott Haven

The Council will vote on an amendment to the Zoning Resolution of the City of New York which would establish a Mandatory Inclusionary Housing area on property located on either side of 147th Street between Austin Place and Southern Boulevard in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the South Bronx. The passage of this amendment would allow for the developer, MLK Plaza, LLC, to construct a development that would be built to include at least 165 units of affordable housing for the community.

“New York has the unique distinction of being one of the cities with the highest average rent across our nation. This is an issue that deeply impacts the lives of all community members,” said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Member for the Mott Haven district. “This project is especially important because communities like Mott Haven have long been overlooked and underinvested in. These 165 new affordable units for families making as little as $25,000 a year will ease the financial burden of housing and make a difference in the lives of everyday New Yorkers.”

The Council will vote on the following appointments:

  • Laurie Hawkinson to the Arts Commission
  • Kenneth Mitchell to the Taxi and Limousine Commission