Council Votes to Prohibit Employers from Requiring Drug Testing for Marijuana as a Condition of Employment

The Council will also vote on legislation to add protections for individuals on probation and incarcerated individuals 

The New York City Council on Tuesday will vote on legislation prohibiting drug testing for marijuana as a condition for hiring. The Council will also vote on legislation that will implement protections for incarcerated individuals, including prohibiting the Department of Probation requiring drug testing in most cases, notifying incarcerated individuals and their lawyers of extremely low bail amounts and removing fees from credit card bail payments. In addition, the Council will vote on bills concerning water tank inspection and safety. Finally, the Council will vote on several land use items. 

Prohibition of Drug Testing for Pre-employment Hiring Procedures 

Introduction 1445-A, sponsored by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, would prohibit New York City employers from requiring a prospective employee to submit to testing for the presence of any marijuana in such prospective employee’s system as a condition of employment. 

“We need to be creating more access points for employment, not less- and as we move toward legalization, it makes absolutely no sense that we’re keeping people from finding jobs or advancing their careers because of marijuana use. This legislation, like the Fair Chance Act before it, is good for both employers and prospective employees. It expands the pool of applicants by preventing people from being shut out. I thank Speaker Corey Johnson and my colleagues for moving quickly to pass this bill,” said Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. 

Implementing Measures to Protect New Yorkers on Probation and Incarcerated New Yorkers 

Not Permitting Drug Testing by the Department of Probation (DOP) 

Introduction 1427, sponsored by Council Member Donovan Richards, would prohibit the Department of Probation from requiring marijuana testing unless abstinence from marijuana has been determined to be necessary to lead an otherwise law-abiding life. 

“When five former city probation commissioners and Judge Lippmann agree that testing people on parole and probation for marijuana serves no public safety purpose, it’s time to change the system. While we’re working to decrease the population on Rikers, we should be finding reasons to keep people out of the system, not more hurdles to trip them up and send them back. With cannabis at the tipping point of legalization, the State and City must be focused on policies that seek to put an end to mass incarceration and the overenforcement of communities of color. The passage of this bill will help close one trap door at the New York City Department of Probation that too many people have fallen into over the years while working to lead a better life for themselves and their families. I’d like to thank Speaker Johnson for his commitment to ending harmful marijuana enforcement policies and being a partner in the overall goal to legalize marijuana across New York State,” said Council Member Donovan Richards. 

Requiring the Department of Correction (DOC) to Notify Incarcerated Individuals and their Defense Attorneys when an Eligible Inmate is Detained Solely Due to a Bail Amount of Less than Ten Dollars 

Introduction 944-A, sponsored by Council Member Rory Lancman,would ensure that the DOC is promptly notifying incarcerated individuals and their attorneys of the low bail and allow them to post it and get released. This bill will go into effect 45 days after enactment. 

“$1 bail is part of the nightmare of cash bail. We’ve heard too many horror stories of people stuck on Rikers Island because of confusion or a communication breakdown over $1 bail — and that ends today. My bill will ensure that the Department of Correction is promptly communicating with defendants detained solely for $1 bail and their attorneys to help reduce the unnecessary incarceration,” said Council Member Rory Lancman

Removing Fees Associated with Credit Card Bail Payments 

Introduction 1199-A, sponsored by
Council Member Keith Powers, 
would remove the 2% fee on credit
card payments made online and the 8% fee charged on credit card payments when
paying in-person at correctional facilities. This bill will improve access to
bail payment for individuals and families of limited financial means. 

“With the passage of Introduction 1199, New York City takes a positive step forward in criminal justice reform. Fees on bail create unnecessary financial hardship on those in the justice system and their families, simply because they do not have cash on-hand. By eliminating the fees associated with paying bail, we eliminate an unnecessary financial hardship that has for so long been associated with the justice system. As bail reform occurs in Albany, it is important that the city works to fill gaps in these various injustices. I thank my colleagues in the City Council for their support and look forward to continue working to progress in reform,” said Council Member Keith Powers. 

Water Tank Protection Bills 

Requiring Water Tank Inspection Companies to Submit Annual Inspection Reports Directly to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) 

Introduction 1053-A, sponsored by Speaker Corey Johnson, would require building owners to ensure that water tank inspection companies submit annual inspection reports directly to DOHMH. 

“New York City has some of the best
drinking water in the country, and that’s in no small part due to the strong
measures we’ve taken in the past to regulate the 8,000-10,000 water tank
structures in our City. While our existing laws are strong, this Council is
committed to ensuring that there are no loopholes or any opportunities to
tamper with inspection results when it comes to our drinking water. The bills
we are voting on today will further ensure compliance, allowing New Yorkers to
continue to feel confident that their water is always safe, clean, and
protected,” said Speaker Corey Johnson. 

Requiring the DOHMH to Conduct Periodic Inspections of Water Tanks and to Post the Results Online 

Introduction 1056-B, sponsored by Council Member Costa Constantinides, would require DOHMH to conduct periodic audits of buildings’ annual water tank inspection documentation. The legislation also requires DOHMH to conduct 125 inspections of water tanks, selected at random, to help ensure the accuracy of the annual inspection reports it receives. The bill requires DOHMH to post the results of such periodic audits and inspections online. 

“Clean drinking water is a fundamental human right, which is why New York City must ensure its citizens aren’t put at risk every time they open a faucet. The City Council has responded to disturbing reports of what floats in the average water tank with smart, fair legislation to ensure our water is safe. Introduction 1056 adds a necessary layer of accountability by requiring surprise inspections of these tanks and random audits of tank inspection documents filed with the City. I want to thank Speaker Johnson for his leadership on this issue and my colleagues for their partnership on this crucial bill,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides. 

Requiring the DOHMH to Review Documentation of Annual inspections of Water Tanks Where Harmful Bacteria are Found, and to Post the Results Online 

Introduction 1138-A, sponsored by
Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel, 
would require
DOHMH to conduct additional reviews of documentation of water tank inspections,
without providing prior notice to building owners, where harmful bacteria are
found or where certain violations are identified by DOHMH. The legislation also
requires DOHMH to post the results of these reviews online. 

Allowing Electronic Reporting of Water Tank Inspection and Cleaning 

Introduction 1150-A, sponsored by Council Member Ben Kallos, would allow DOHMH to require that water tank inspection results be submitted electronically to the Department. 

“New York City water is the best in the world, straight from the tap, and we aim to keep it that way. Thanks to groundbreaking reporting by City and State that exposed lax oversight of water towers throughout our city, I am proud to be a sponsor or co-sponsor of a legislative package that I hope will restore faith in our city’s amazing water supply. Thank you to Speaker Johnson for his past and current leadership on public health for every New Yorker,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. 

Requiring Qualifications for Persons Conducting Inspections and Maintenance on Drinking Water Tanks 

Introduction 1157-B, sponsored by
Council Member Mark Levine, 
would require that water tank
inspectors be either licensed master plumbers; work under the direct and
continuing supervision of such a licensed master plumber; or be registered
design professionals. This bill would also require that the cleaning, painting,
or coating of a water tank be conducted by an individual qualified to conduct
water tank inspections, or by a person who holds a commercial pesticide
applicator certification. 

“Ensuring that the water flowing from New Yorkers’ taps is of the highest possible quality is a vital public health and safety priority. When not properly maintained, water tanks have been found to contain debris, bacteria, and parasites. The goal of these bills is to make sure New Yorkers are confident in the quality of the water coming out of their taps. By strengthening our inspection regimen and ensuring that building owners are held accountable for violating their legal obligation to properly inspect, clean, and maintain their water tanks, we can reassure New Yorkers that their water is safe to drink,” said Council Member Mark Levine

Requiring the Repair of Damaged Water Tanks 

Introduction 1167-A, sponsored by
Council Member Rafael Salamanca, 
would require building owners to repair
damage to water tanks or their supporting structures, and would impose a civil
penalty for failure to do so. 

“Water tanks play a significant role in the lives of New Yorkers, delivering drinking water to millions of people across the five boroughs. Serving such an important function in our day-to-day lives, reports that water tanks throughout New York City have been operating in deplorable conditions – gaping holes in the tank’s structure or broken lids that allow animals to enter – is both shocking and appalling. Intro 1167-A would remedy this issue, requiring property owners to immediately repair any hazardous conditions found within the water tank or to its structure. Ensuring our constituents’ drinking water is safe for consumption is of the utmost importance, and I applaud my colleagues in the New York City Council for approving a legislative package that does just that,” said Council Member Rafael Salamanca. 

Requiring the Visual Documentation of Water Tanks during Inspections, to be Submitted to DOHMH 

Introduction 1169-A, sponsored by Council Member Ritchie Torres, would require visual evidence of water tanks, such as photographs or videos, to be submitted with inspection results to DOHMH. 

Council Committee Membership 

The Council also voted to make changes to the Committee Membership. 

Finally, the Council will vote on
the following land use items: 

Former Parkway Hospital Site Rezoning  

An application to rezone a block in Kew Gardens, home to the former Parkway Hospital, in Council Member Karen Koslowitz’s district. This rezoning will facilitate the rehabilitation of the vacant hospital building with 135 apartments, 100% of which will be affordable senior housing, and to facilitate the construction of a new 216-unit residential building on the same property. The Council modified the application so that new development must comply with Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) Option 1. 

809 Atlantic Avenue 

An application in Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo’s district for rezoning and special permits to facilitate a 29-story mixed use building with 286 housing units including permanently affordable housing units using Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) Option 2. The Special Permit under ZR 74-711 for this application will also facilitate the restoration and preservation of the landmark Church of St. Luke & St. Matthew. 

103 North 13th Street  

An application in Council Member Stephen Levin’s district for the Industrial Incentive Areas Special Permit that will facilitate a seven-story mixed-use building with retail, office, and required light industrial space.  

245 East 53rd Street  

An application in Council Member Keith Powers’ district, to establish a commercial overlay within an existing residential district, to allow for a new six-story building with ground floor commercial uses while bringing 25 lots into conformance. 

Park Terrace West – West 217th Street
Historic District 
 

Designation of the Park Terrace West-West 217th Street Historic District in the Inwood section of Manhattan, in Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez’ district. 

41 Summit Street 

The 41 Summit Street applications in Council Member Lander’s district were withdrawn by the applicant. 

The Council also voted on a Resolution that amends the Rules of the Land Use Committee to clarify and reorganize language that has remained largely unchanged since the Land Use Committee was established in 1990, and to make certain substantive changes to improve the committee’s functioning. Among the changes, the new rules will eliminate the requirement that the Committee have a Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions and Concessions. Upon adoption, that subcommittee will be dissolved and its jurisdiction will be divided between the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises and the Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime Uses. 

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