Council will also vote to track heat-related deaths and create a cooling plan
City Hall, NY – The New York City Council on Tuesday will vote on legislation to change the name of the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) to the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, thereby officially expanding the Department’s mandate to enforce the City’s labor laws. This bill would also clarify the Department’s jurisdiction to seek restitution on behalf of consumers and workers related to any law within its jurisdiction.
The Council is also taking steps to make the de Blasio Administration better track heat-related deaths, as well as create a comprehensive cooling plan to ensure at-risk populations are aware of cooling options and dangers of excessive heat. One bill being voted on today will require the City Health Department to annually report on neighborhood heat vulnerability and the number of heat-related deaths. A second bill requires the Office of Emergency Management, in consultation with other city agencies, to annually submit a plan for how the city would inform residents on the dangers of heat exposure, access to cooling, including cooling centers, and how vulnerable populations can stay cool during heat-related emergencies.
The Council is also voting on a bill designed to ensure that information people provide to the City of New York online is more secure. The bill will require the encryption of exchanges or transfers of web content from sites maintained by or on behalf of the City.
The Council will also vote to mandate a plan for the reopening of the cultural arts sector in New York City. New York’s cultural arts institutions are the lifeblood of the City and serve as a significant economic boost. The COVID-19 pandemic devastated this industry, and many cultural institutions do not have a date for reopening, inhibiting their ability to adequately plan for their reopening. This legislation would require the City Department of Cultural Affairs to publish reopening guidance for art and cultural institutions.
In addition, the Council will vote on a resolution to call on the State and federal government to create a commission to address infectious diseases, which is critical to ensuring our state and country are as prepared as possible for battling the current COVID-19 pandemic and future pandemics that may arise. President Trump inexplicably dismantled a similar effort prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Council will also vote on three bills that will require mayoral executive orders, unconsolidated local laws, and mayoral designations of administering offices and agencies to be published online so that this information is easily searchable by the public. Additionally, the Council will also vote on legislation to exempt certain dwelling units from the requirements of the housing portal.
Finally, the Council will also vote on a resolution calling on the United States Congress to pass, and the President to sign, the Voting Rights Advancement Act in memory of the late Representative John R. Lewis.
Renames the Department of Consumer Affairs and formally expands jurisdiction
Introduction No. 1609-A, sponsored by Council Member Ritchie Torres, would change the name of the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) to the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, in an effort to clarify the Department’s powers to seek restitution on behalf of consumers and workers related to any law within its jurisdiction. This bill would also establish the Office of Labor Standards and the Division of Paid Care as offices within the Department.
The Office of Administrative Trials and Hearing would be designated as the tribunal in which the Department may begin proceedings to recover civil penalties.
“This legislation will upgrade DCA’s mission and powers to ensure that all workers and consumers are protected, and the agency has the enforcement capabilities it needs,” said Councilmember Ritchie Torres. “Thank you to the Speaker, the bill co-sponsors and the agency for working with us to pass this important legislation.”
Requires annual reporting on neighborhood heat vulnerability and the number of heat-related deaths
Introduction No. 1945-A, sponsored by Council Member Justin Brannan, would require the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to annually report on neighborhood heat vulnerability and the number of heat-related deaths.
Information reported will include, but is not limited to, the number of heat stress deaths, the estimation of heat exacerbated deaths, a description of social and environmental factors used to determine heat vulnerability, and aggregate demographic information on heat stress deaths.
“As temperatures around the world rise and the intensity of heatwaves increase, deaths attributable to extreme heat exposure, while generally considered preventable, represent a serious and enduring public health concern,” said Council Member Justin Brannan. “It is our responsibility and obligation as a city to ensure we are doing everything in our power to prevent heat-related deaths, whether through providing air conditioning units to vulnerable and low-income seniors, expanding city cooling centers, or preparing our energy grid for high demand to prevent blackouts. By broadening the scope of what constitutes a death attributable to extreme heat, we will have the data we need to respond appropriately to the growing threat that extreme heat poses to our city. Heat can be a silent killer. In the fight to protect public health from rising temperatures and extreme heat, public knowledge is power.”
Requires a comprehensive cooling and communication plan
Introduction No. 1960-A, sponsored by Council Member Rafael Salamanca, would require the Office of Emergency Management, in consultation with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability, to prepare and submit an annual plan beginning by May 15, 2021, describing how the city would inform residents on the dangers of heat exposure, access to cooling, including cooling centers, and how vulnerable populations can stay cool during heat-related emergencies.
The plan would also include measures for large office buildings to reduce stress on the electric grid during the summer months and be updated annually.
“As global temperatures steadily rises each year, New Yorkers continue to look for new ways to beat the heat. While many turn to their home air conditioning units to beat the heat, the truth is countless New Yorkers, including many in my district, do not have that same luxury. For many, escaping the peak daytime heat is made easier by a being at their place of employment, a senior center or even a cooling center. With COVID response efforts eliminating almost all indoor gatherings, New Yorkers were left with fewer cooling options. That is why I introduced Introduction 1960, which would require the Office of Emergency Management, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and other relevant agencies to create an annual comprehensive plan on how the city will respond to heat-related emergencies. While the city did the best it could to provide cooling options in the midst of a pandemic, I believe there needs to be a thorough plan in place now and in the future to ensure all New Yorkers, regardless of their income, have the resources available to them to stay safe during a heat emergency,” stated Council Member Rafael Salamanca.
Urges the creation of a special commission to address infectious diseases
Resolution No. 637-A, sponsored by Council Member Mathieu Eugene, would call on the United States Department of Health and Human Services and the New York State Department of Health to create a special commission to address health emergencies and infectious diseases.
“I want to commend and thank Speaker Corey Johnson and my colleagues on the City Council for their support of Resolution 637-A, calling for the creation of a State and Federal Commission to address the spread of infectious disease. The COVID-19 pandemic has been an incredibly disruptive time for the global community and has highlighted the major discrepancies we have in our ability to manage public health emergencies and prevent the spread of a deadly virus. It is almost certain that we will see the emergence of a new disease that may be more harmful than COVID-19, and that is why we must act with a sense of urgency to improve our level of preparedness.
“Our healthcare professionals and essential workers have sacrificed so much in their battle against COVID-19, it is only right that we do everything in our power to create an infrastructure that can more readily contain future occurrences of epidemics, pandemics, or infectious disease. I believe that the creation of a State and Federal Commission to address these issues is a necessary step in changing our approach to future outbreaks and saving lives in the process,” said Council Member Mathieu Eugene.
Requires the development of a cultural reopening plan
Introduction No. 1967-A, sponsored by Laurie A. Cumbo, would require the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs to publish information for art and cultural institutions affected by COVID-19 on its website, related to what will be relevant to their reopening plans.
This includes, but is not limited to, federal/state/city/union requirements and guidelines related to COVID-19; guidance on where to direct questions about guidelines; and resources known to the department related to financial support.
“Our cultural sector is an integral part of the New York City economy, generating approximately $110 billion in economic activity per year,” said Council Member Laurie Cumbo. “Intro 1967A allows us to move forward with the reopening of these integral institutions while effectively communicating to ensure the safety of both patrons and employees. Through the passage of Intro 1950A, and Intro 1967A, New York City is setting the precedent for what it means to successfully, and safely reopen, as we have set the precedent for what it means to effectively combat COVID-19.
Encrypts website exchanges or transfers on websites maintained by the City of New York
Introduction No. 1154-A, sponsored by Council Member Karen Koslowitz, would require the encryption of exchanges or transfers of web content from websites maintained by or on behalf of the City, such as through the adoption of the HTTPS protocol. Certain websites maintained by the City that accept sensitive user information do not currently utilize secure encryption, which leaves users vulnerable to hacking or stolen data.
“In order to protect the city’s electronic files from bad actors, it has become necessary to mandate that all exchanges or transfers of content from city websites be protected through encryption,” said Council Member Karen Koslowitz.
HOUSING AND BUILDINGS
Exempts HDFCs from online housing portal
Introduction No. 1783-A, sponsored by Council Member Mark Levine, would exempt affordable housing cooperatives for sale from the requirements of the housing portal.
“It’s not just low-income renters who are under threat during this pandemic. It’s low-income homeowners, too, especially those in limited equity coops known as HDFCs,” said Council Member Levine. “HDFCs are one of the most successful affordable housing programs in NYC history, but in recent years they have too often been neglected and ignored by city leaders. In passing this bill today, the New York City Council is standing up for HDFC shareholders by protecting them from an undue regulatory burden in Local Law 64. This law should be focused on major developers, not working-class HDFC shareholders. Today we are fixing that problem once and for all, before any unfair fines are levied.”
Urges the United States Congress to pass, and the President to sign, the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019
Resolution No. 1371, sponsored by Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo, that would call upon Congress to pass, and the President to sign, the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019 (H.R. 4), now known in the Senate as the “John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act,” which would revise and modernize portions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 struck down in the 2013 Supreme Court decision Shelby County v. Holder.
“In 2019, the Brennan Center for Justice estimated that 2013 changes to voting laws will make it significantly harder for five million Americans to exercise their right to vote,” said Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo. “As Representative John Lewis once said, the right to vote is “precious and almost sacred.” Today, the New York City Council demonstrates its leadership on both local, and national issues while honoring the legacy of one of our greatest Civil Rights icons. We call on Congress to pass, and the President to sign, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. Representative Lewis’ legacy will forever live through the unrelenting protection of our right to vote. Thank you to Speaker Johnson for your strong leadership and unwavering commitment to ensure that the Council is on the right side of history.”
Related to posting machine-readable executive orders
Introduction No. 1091-A, sponsored by Council Member Peter Koo, would require the Corporation Counsel to make available on a single page of the City’s website a searchable and machine-readable compilation of all mayoral executive orders issued from 1974 to present.
“As our city faces budget shortfalls and an ongoing pandemic, it is more important than ever that our government strive to remain accountable to those we serve. My bill is a simple contribution toward a lofty ideal that good government should be transparent and available to all for study and analysis. By creating a searchable and machine-readable compilation of mayoral executive orders, we move one step closer toward a truly open and available government that operates by the people, for the people,” said Council Member Peter Koo.
Requires the online publication of unconsolidated laws
Introduction No. 1872-A, sponsored by Council Member Fernando Cabrera, would require the Corporation Counsel to make unconsolidated local laws enacted after January 1, 1985 that remain in effect available online in a searchable, machine-readable format. Unconsolidated laws are laws that are not part of the City’s Charter or Administrative Code, and often include laws with a limited duration such as temporary taskforces or City agency reporting requirements. In addition, this bill would require the Corporation Counsel to annotate sections of the New York City Charter and Administrative Code, which are currently published online pursuant to existing law, with any unconsolidated provisions of local law enacted since 1985 that amended those sections.
“Intro 1872-A responds to advocates who have encountered confusion while searching for unconsolidated laws, which are in effect for a limited time, such as requiring a report, plan, task force, or program that will eventually dissolve. My bill would require publication of unconsolidated laws enacted by the Council. Right now, unconsolidated provisions are not codified in either the Administrative Code or Charter – but they still carry the force of law. This bill would require the Law Department to publish all unconsolidated local laws enacted after January 1, 1985 that remain in effect. Intro 1872-A will make it easier to find important information, especially for advocates, who are a critical part of the policy-making process,” said Council Member Fernando Cabrera.
Requires the publication of mayoral designations of administering offices or agencies
Introduction No. 1879-A, sponsored by Council Member Keith Powers, would provide that whenever the Mayor designates a particular office or agency to administer or enforce any provision of the Charter or Administrative Code, the Mayor must publish such designation on the City’s website and notify the Speaker within 10 days.
“No longer will members of the public or the City Council need to guess which agency will be overseeing a new law. With this legislation, when we pass a new law the Mayor has to designate the agency up front. This is a simple transparency matter that will help us do our jobs more effectively,” said Council Member Keith Powers.