The Council will also vote to prohibit cashless retail

City Hall – The New York City Council on Thursday will vote on legislation to strengthen the existing lead laws, close loopholes that endanger children, and increase protections for pregnant women from the devastating effects of lead poisoning.

The use of lead paint was banned in 1960, yet New Yorkers are still being negatively impacted by lead paint used in buildings decades ago and not properly removed. Children are most at risk of lead poisoning, and can suffer from lifelong impairments, including development delays and intellectual disabilities. In 2018, nearly 4,000 children were identified as having elevated blood lead levels.

As a result, the City Council has pushed to strengthen the lead laws. In 2019, the Council passed 10 pieces of lead-related legislation to amend Local Law 1 of 2004 (Local Law 1), also known as the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Act.

The latest bills will further strengthen Local Law 1.

The package includes a bill that will require the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to conduct an investigation to identify potential sources of lead for any pregnant person who has tested positive for elevated blood lead levels and to monitor the child after birth for elevated blood lead levels. The bill would also require DOHMH to proactively assess whether the child’s home contains any lead-based paint hazards or unsafe lead paint conditions.

Other proposed laws will require testing for lead in the City’s parks and require schools under the Department of Education jurisdiction to conduct regular inspections for lead-based paint hazards in certain spaces. The results of findings at schools will be publicly available and sent to parents and guardians.

“New Yorkers should not have to worry about lead poisoning in their children, which can create devastating lifelong problems. The City Council takes lead exposure very seriously and is proud to improve the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Act to better protect families from the impact of lead,” said Speaker Corey Johnson.

The Council is also voting on a bill that will require food establishments and retail stores to take cash instead of excluding customers who don’t have credit cards or access to a bank account. Cashless establishments penalize the unbanked, and unfairly closes off our economy. This bill will ban cashless retail throughout the City and prohibit establishments from charging cash-paying consumers a higher price than cash-less consumers.

The Council will also vote on a bill that is designed to encourage more affordable retail space in communities. If developers take city funds for projects, the bill requires the city to look at that project for potential affordable retail space. To determine that potential, the city will do a retail needs assessment in the neighborhood the project is located.

Finally, the Council is introducing a resolution to call January 27, Holocaust Remembrance Day in the City of New York. Globally, the day is known as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The resolution also establishes the week of January 27th as Holocaust Education Week citywide.

Finally, the Council will vote on several finance items.

Lead Package

Amends the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to permanent removal of lead based paint

Introduction No. 873-A, sponsored by Council Member Margaret S. Chin, would require schools under Department of Education jurisdiction to conduct regular surveys and inspections for lead-based paint hazards in certain spaces, the results of which will be made publicly available and delivered to parents and guardians. This bill would also require HPD, when conducting certain inspections, determine whether there has been a violation of the requirement to remediate lead hazards when a unit turns over. Further, it would establish a presumption that a building owner who is unable to provide a record of having remediated lead hazards at turnover has violated the requirement to do so.

“Intro 873-A calls on our City to strengthen its enforcement mechanisms to protect our children from toxic lead poisoning in their homes as well as their classrooms. Last year, after it was revealed that schools weren’t legally required to regularly investigate and survey spaces for lead hazards, our Council pushed DOE to step up to save our kids. This legislation codifies a critical protection to ensure all school spaces are safe to play and breathe in, and helped HPD enforce landlords to comply with the existing law to remediate homes of lead when a new family moves in. I thank Speaker Corey Johnson, Council legislative staff, and the advocates for their commitment to creating a zero-lead City” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin.

Amends the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to lead poisoning prevention and control in certain dwellings, and repeals section 27-2056.1 of such administrative code relating to the findings and purpose of provisions of such code relating to lead poisoning from paint

Introduction No. 891-A, sponsored by Council Member Stephen T. Levin, would expand the meaning of “multiple dwelling” for the purposes of lead laws to also include private dwellings where at least one unit is not owner-occupied. As currently drafted, the requirements to investigate and remediate lead hazards in dwellings only apply to multiple dwellings, excluding certain smaller buildings where residents may still be at risk of lead exposure.

Amends the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to investigations of lead-based paint hazards by independent and certified inspectors, and contractor certifications for construction activities that disturb lead-based paint, and repeals subdivision 9 of section 20-386 and subdivision 15 of section 20-393 of such administrative code, relating to salespersons for home improvement businesses

Introduction No. 919-A, sponsored by Council Member Ritchie J. Torres, would require that, within five years of the bill’s effective date or one year of a child moving in, a thorough inspection of a dwelling unit be conducted by an EPA-certified inspector and include a specified inspection protocol. It would also require home improvement contractors to show that they are EPA-certified to ensure that they are prepared to follow lead-based paint related safety standards.

“The best way to ensure that lead is properly removed from homes is by having inspections and removal done by EPA-certified inspectors. Lead removal is a highly technical job that requires appropriate training and skills. This bill will protect thousands of residents and ensure that children are living in lead-free homes,” said Council Member Ritchie J. Torres.

Amends the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to investigation by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in connection with lead poisoning incidents involving pregnant persons

Introduction No. 904-A, sponsored by Council Member Carlina Rivera, targets the issue of lead in pregnant persons. For persons who test positive for elevated blood levels, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) would be required to identify the potential sources. The bill would require the agency to monitor the child after birth for elevated blood lead levels and to assess whether the apartment where such child resides contains any lead-based paint hazards or unsafe lead paint conditions.

DOHMH would be required to conduct outreach to new and expecting parents regarding the availability of inspections for peeling paint, or a deteriorated subsurface or underlying defect in their apartment, and to provide them with information about blood lead testing for children, unsafe construction or renovation work practices, and the availability of inspections for such practices.

“It is shocking that in 2020 children and families in New York City are still being exposed to poisonous levels of lead. But this Council has taken real leadership to combat this failure, passing bill after bill to strengthen our city’s lead monitoring and remediation requirements, and I want to thank Speaker Corey Johnson for spearheading this effort. As Co-Chair of the Council’s Women’s Caucus, I’m proud that we are my voting on my bill, Intro 904, that will finally ensure that the city conducts thorough investigations when pregnant mothers test positive for lead exposure to ensure that any potential lead sources are found and fixed, and that families receive the treatment and information they need,” said Council Member Carlina Rivera.

Amends the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to soil lead testing in certain department of parks and recreation capital projects

Introduction No. 420-B, sponsored by Council Member Costa Constantinides, will focus on the issue of lead in our parks throughout the city. This bill would require the Parks Department (DPR) to test for lead concentration levels in areas of parks under DPR jurisdiction that contain exposed soil and are used for active play or passive recreation whenever a capital project occurs in such area. If the test finds that a bare soil area has a lead level at or above the level set forth in title 40 of the code of federal regulations DPR must cover, replace or otherwise remediate the area.

“Whenever a shovel goes into the ground at our Parks, we must ensure the soil ground our children will play on is lead free. The bill we’re passing today will make sure we test for this harmful material anywhere the City conducts the many capital projects it’s undertaking to improve our Parks. I applaud and thank Speaker Corey Johnson for his leadership in tackling the dangerous legacy lead has left in the City of New York,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides.

Small Business

Requires City entities to assess City funded development projects, and determine if affordable retail space should be included in the project and made available to small businesses

Introduction No. 1408-B, sponsored by Council Member Rafael L. Espinal Jr., would require that where the City provides substantial funding for a development project, a neighborhood retail needs assessment must be performed to determine whether the project will provide commercial space at below market rents. The needs assessment would include considerations related to the commercial diversity of the neighborhood, as well as commercial vacancy rates and retail needs in the community.  Such retail space would not be provided to a chain business, and would not be included in projects for which retail space would hinder the provision of a community program, service or benefit. The bill would require the City to account for its decisions through annual reporting.

“Intro 1408, which mandates affordable rents for commercial space in affordable housing developments, is part of a broader conversation around how to keep rents affordable for all small businesses in NYC. Affordable housing developments have to take a holistic approach to what their footprint in the neighborhood is going to be. Just as we have set-asides to address the affordability crisis for tenants, we must have set-asides to tackle the growing vacancy crisis for small businesses. Protecting New York’s small business culture starts with a recognition that the rent has become unaffordable for way too many commercial tenants. This legislation is a step in that direction, and I hope it will bring more attention to the struggles our small businesses face,” said Council Member Rafael L. Espinal Jr.

Consumer Affairs

food and retail establishments from refusing to accept payment in cash

Introduction No. 1281-A, sponsored by Council Member Ritchie J. Torres, would prohibit food and retail establishments from refusing to accept cash from customers. This bill would also prohibit establishments from charging cash-paying customers a higher price than those using credit. The prohibition on cash-less practices would not apply where the food or retail establishment has on its premises, a machine that converts cash into a prepaid card that can be used to make unlimited purchases on any priced item, at no additional cost to the consumer.  Additionally, food and retail establishments do not have to accept bills in denominations of greater than $20 and transactions taking place completely online, by phone or mail are excluded.

The bill provides for penalties of not more than $1000 for a first violation, and of not more than $1500 for each succeeding violation.

“No longer in NYC will brick-and-mortar businesses have the right to refuse cash and effectively discriminate against customers who lack access to credit and debit. The City of New York cannot allow the digital economy to leave behind the 25 percent of New Yorkers who are chronically unbanked and underbanked. The marketplace of the future must accommodate the needs of vulnerable New Yorkers,” said Council Member Ritchie J. Torres.

Government Operations

Authorizes the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH) to dismiss a violation enforced by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission pertaining to a defective vehicle lights

Introduction No. 991, sponsored by Council Member Fernando Cabrera, would authorize the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH) to dismiss a violation enforced by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission pertaining to a defective vehicle lights. OATH may dismiss the violation as long as the driver or owner has fixed the light no later one day after being issued a violation and provided proof of correction, such as a statement of correction issued by a state inspection authority or auto repair shop, along with the TLC summons, to the TLC.

“Today the Council is taking decisive action to provide critically needed assistance to our taxi drivers. Intro 0991-C authorizes OATH to dismiss TLC enforced violations related to defective vehicle sights if the driver or owner provides proof of correction and the correction can be verified by TLC. This bill is a step in the right direction in easing the disproportionate and often unfair financial burdens imposed on livery drivers, a number of whom have been driven to suicide by crushing debts.  Our drivers are an important part of the City’s economy and meet major transportation needs in our communities. I appreciate Speaker Johnson’s and my colleagues’ support in this effort,” said Council Member Fernando Cabrera.

Civil Service & Labor

Extends health insurance coverage for the surviving family members of certain deceased employees of the city of New York

Introduction No. 1785, sponsored by Council Member I. Daneek Miller, would extend health insurance coverage benefits to surviving family members of deceased municipal employees who died as a natural and proximate result of an accident or injury sustained while performing duties for the City or who died because of a condition as related to the World Trade Center.

“All work has dignity, and Introduction 1785 demonstrates how we as a City value the service of every single one of our municipal employees, particularly the brave civilian responders who answered the call on 9/11. I thank my colleagues, Speaker Johnson, and the Administration for supporting this bill. Its passage today ensures that all of our dedicated civil servants will have the peace of mind they richly deserve by knowing that the care we provide for their families’ health will endure, even if tragedy should strike in the course of duty,” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller.

Civil and Human Rights

Recognizes Holocaust Remembrance Day and establishing a citywide week of Holocaust Education in New York City

Preconsidered Resolution No. 1225, sponsored by Chaim Deutsch, would recognizing January 27, 2020 as Holocaust Remembrance Day and the week beginning on January 27, 2020 as a citywide week of Holocaust education in New York City.