City Hall – Today, the New York City Council will vote on the parental empowerment package, which includes steps to address the disturbingly high mortality and morbidity rates for women of color giving birth. The bills, once enacted, will also help increase the number and improve the quality of lactation rooms available, require many city programs that provide services to parents to have baby supplies on hand, and study the possibility of making childcare services available for city employees. The Council will also vote on several land-use items.

Parental Empowerment Package 

Requiring Lactation Rooms in Certain City Spaces

Introduction 878-A, sponsored by Council Member Robert Cornegy, will expand upon Local Law 94 of 2016 and require that city jails that accept visitors and police precincts offer lactation rooms to persons using on-site services. If it is not practicable for a police precinct or jail to provide a lactation room due to security concerns or limited space, the bill will require that those agencies provide an explanation for why it is not practicable, as well as any future plans to improve the availability of lactation rooms.

“Every day we in government espouse the importance of giving our children the best opportunity to succeed in life. As we have become increasingly aware of the myriad benefits associated with breastfeeding, it is only appropriate that we do everything in our power to stick to our word. And this means empowering moms to be able to safely and healthily breastfeed their children. Nursing mothers DESERVE to have access to a safe, clean, comfortable space to breastfeed or express breastmilk no matter where the responsibilities of life take them,” said Council Member Robert Cornegy. 

Requiring Certain Employers to Provide Lactation Rooms

Introduction 879-A, sponsored by Council Member Laurie Cumbo, will require any employer with 15 or more employees to provide a lactation room that includes a space to place a breast pump for employees needing to express breast milk. The employer will also be required to ensure that the lactation room and a refrigerator suitable for breast milk storage are in a reasonable proximity to an employee’s work area. The proposed bill includes an “undue hardship” exemption that mirrors the requirements of the Human Rights Law.

“I was proud to spearhead the Mother’s Day package after my own first Mother’s Day last spring and am grateful for the partnership of my colleagues in moving these critical pieces of legislation forward. This package takes a comprehensive approach to truly empowering working parents across New York City, addressing significant issues such as lactation accommodations, maternal mortality and childcare for municipal workers. This package reinforces the fact that by listening to and meeting the needs of mothers and all working parents, we are better able to support all of New York City’s families and communities,” said Council Member Laurie Cumbo.

Requiring Employers to Implement a Lactation Room Accommodation Policy

Introduction 905-A, sponsored by Council Member Carlina Rivera, will require employers to develop, implement and distribute to all new hires a written policy regarding the provision of a lactation room. The policy would have to include a statement that employees have a right to request a lactation room, identify the appropriate process for doing so and provide guidance for what to do if two or more persons need the room at the same time. The bill includes an “undue hardship” exemption that mirrors the requirements of the Human Rights Law.

“If we are going to be the fairest big city in America, we must continue to pass legislation that addresses the financial and career inequities that women face in accessing quality healthcare and child care, including providing private lactation areas. Women can face stigma for nursing in the workplace – even though state and federal law permit nursing in public – which can lead to challenges for working mothers to find the time or private space to breast feed. I am proud that my bill will require employers to establish lactation accommodation policies and post them in the workplace, just as they would for any other right an employer is due,” said Council Member Carlina Rivera.

Access to Doulas

Introduction 913-A, sponsored by Council Member Helen Rosenthal, will require the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to submit a plan to increase access to doulas for pregnant people in the city, including relevant timelines and strategies. The legislation will also require DOHMH to report annually on known city- and community-based programs that provide doula services; areas with a disproportionately high rate of maternal mortality, cesarean birth and other poor birth outcomes, as well as on any updated information regarding implementation of the plan.

Expanding Reporting on Maternal Mortality and Morbidity

Introduction 914-A, sponsored by Council Member Helen Rosenthal, will expand upon Local Law 55 of 2017, which requires the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to report information on maternal mortality. The bill will require DOHMH to submit additional data on maternal mortality, as well as information on severe maternal morbidity. These reports will include an annual report on mortality, an annual report on morbidity and a five-year report on mortality, disaggregated by various factors such as such as insurance status, trimester of prenatal care entry and preexisting health conditions. The bill requires the report to provide recommendations for enhancing agency cooperation to improve outcomes. In addition, the bill will codify the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee (“M3RC”), a multi-disciplinary panel of representatives that was formed based on the recommendation of the first report issued pursuant to Local Law 55 of 2017, to continue to examine issues related to maternal mortality and morbidity in the city. 

“Maternal mortality and morbidity, especially among Black women, is a public health crisis in New York City – and it’s an acute symptom of a far broader problem, reflecting the underlying sexism and racism in our society. This past summer the NYC Department of Health (DOH) announced a $12 million, 5-year plan to address maternal health issues, and the laws we are passing today will hold their feet to the fire. Int. 913-A requires the DOH to increase access to doulas for the most vulnerable New Yorkers, and Int. 914-A codifies the robust, multi-disciplinary M3RC that does a deep dive into each pregnancy-related death. I’m proud to have sponsored these two bills in the package we are voting on today – they are critical steps towards supporting pregnant New Yorkers and improving health outcomes for our mothers and their babies,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal.

Studying the Feasibility of Providing Childcare for City Employees 

Introduction 853-A, sponsored by Public Advocate Letitia James, would require the establishment of a working group to study the feasibility of providing discounted group childcare services for children, aged four and under, of city employees. The working group would include experts in the field of childcare and agency representatives and would issue its feasibility report in 12 months. Following the issuance of the report, the working group would oversee the implementation by a city agency of a one-year pilot project to provide or subsidize a childcare center or centers for such children. The working group would issue another report at the conclusion of the pilot and may make ongoing recommendations for the next five years, at which point the law will sunset.

“Child care should be a basic right for every family, but too many in New York City cannot afford the growing costs. Providing on-site, subsidized child care for municipal workers will be a game changer for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers. We must do all we can to support hardworking families and this program is a huge step towards doing that,” said Public Advocate Letitia James.

Requiring City Administrative Services to Supply Infant Sanitary Products at Temporary Family Housing Facilities

Introduction 380-A, sponsored by Council Member Mark Treyger, would require the Department of Citywide Administrative Services to make available a supply of diapers and baby wipes sufficient to meet the needs of children three-years old and younger at domestic violence shelters, temporary shelters, family justice centers, LYFE programs and City-contracted childcare centers. It would also require visible signage or written notice of the availability of such diapers and baby wipes. The law would take effect 120 days after it becomes law.

“The cost of diapers or baby wipes should never come between a parent and their ability to pay their rent or put food on their family’s table. Diapers and wipes are not luxury items; they are a critical and expensive every day necessity that some of our city’s families struggle to afford. The prohibitive cost of diapers can keep young children from attending early childhood educational programs critical for academic, social and emotional development. This legislation is about showing basic decency, freeing some of our working families from shouldering a challenging economic burden and strengthening our city’s social safety net,” said Council Member Mark Treyger.

The City Council will vote on the following land use items:

Lefferts Boulevard Rezoning – A rezoning that will extend an existing commercial overlay and allow for the development of a new one-story commercial building at 104-12 Lefferts Boulevard in Council Member Adrienne Adams’ District.

95 Lenox Ave., Manhattan – An Article XI tax exemption to preserve 160 units of affordable housing in a Section 8 building. The application also seeks approval for conveyance of an existing parking lot and a modification to a previously approved plan and project, to facilitate the development of two new buildings: (1) a 288-unit building that will be 40% affordable, 60% market-rate, and (2) a 210-unit 100% affordable building proposed to be built that requires future disposition and rezoning actions. This project is located in Council Member Bill Perkins’ district.

Lutheran Social Services of New York Early Life Children’s Center 2 – The proposed site selection and acquisition of property located at 888 Westchester Avenue. The child-care center has been operating on this site since the early 1970s and is located in Council Member Rafael Salamanca’s district.

Boerum Hill Historic District Extension – Approval of the Boerum Hill Historic District Extension in Council Member Stephen Levin’s district, adding almost 300 buildings and nearly doubling in size the existing Boerum Hill Historic District.

180 Myrtle Avenue – Approval of a Text Amendment to the Special Downtown Brooklyn District, to allow three buildings on Myrtle Avenue to add community facility uses such as medical offices and daycare centers to the ground floors.