The Council also voted to educate and inform immigrant New Yorkers of their workplace rights
City Hall, NY – Today, the New York City Council voted to require the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, in consultation with New York City Health and Hospitals, to create guidance to educate medical professionals and the public on the detection of the sickle cell trait through pre- and post-conception genetic screening and on the management and treatment of sickle cell disease. Screening for the disease helps those affected make informed decisions about their and their children’s health. Sickle cell disease affects approximately 100,000 people in the U.S. and is most common in people of African descent. Racial disparities in medical treatment and access to health care, along with a lack of investments into medical research, have exacerbated the negative impacts of the disease on individuals diagnosed and their families.
The council also voted on legislation that would require chain restaurants with 15 or more locations to post added sugar icons and factual warning statements on menus or menu boards next to menu items and on or near food items on display that exceed a specified level of added sugars. Eating or drinking too much sugar has several negative health implications, including elevated risk of Type 2 Diabetes, liver disease, and dental issues. This new legislation builds on the “Sweet Truth Act,” passed by the Council in 2021 that requires the same labels indicating added sugars above a certain level on all packaged foods at this subset of restaurants.
Additionally. The Council also voted to require the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP), in coordination with the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA), the New York City Commission on Human Rights, and community and labor organizations, to create and publish a workers’ bill of rights which would contain information on the rights and protections under federal, state, and local laws that apply to all workers in the City, regardless of immigration status.
“Today, the Council passed critical legislation to confront the racial disparities in the treatment of Sickle Cell Disease, which has for too long disproportionately devastated Black communities,” said Speaker Adrienne Adams. “By educating and guiding medical professionals and the public on how to detect the sickle cell trait, we are making necessary investments into life-saving preventative care. Together, with the passage of the Council’s bill to require chain restaurants to share added sugar levels in food, we can help New Yorkers make informed decisions that prioritize their health. The Council is also proud to enact legislation to publish an Immigrant Workers Bill of Rights and mandate outreach on resources available to employees, which will help our immigrant New Yorkers take advantage of public resources. I thank my colleagues for their leadership in advancing New Yorkers’ health and well-being and look forward to our continued work to empower our communities.”
Improving Health Outcomes for those Affected by Sickle Cell Disease
Introduction 0968-A, sponsored by Council Member Mercedes Narcisse, would require the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, in consultation with New York City Health and Hospitals, to create guidance to educate medical professionals and the public on the detection of the sickle cell trait through pre- and post-conception genetic screening and on the management and treatment of sickle cell disease. Guidance for medical professionals is required to include education on the benefits of recommending screenings during the family planning process and on nondiscriminatory approaches to assess patient pain, including instruction on implicit bias in the provision of pain management. The bill would also require that pre- and post- conception genetic screening for sickle cell trait be offered to those who fall into an at-risk population or for whom such screening is otherwise medically recommended. Sickle cell disease affects approximately 100,000 people in the U.S. and is most common in people of African descent. Due to racial disparities in medical treatment and access to healthcare, the impact of this disease on individuals diagnosed and their families has remained a major issue of structural racism. Screening for the disease helps those affected make informed decisions about their and their children’s health.
“Sickle cell disease affects thousands of New Yorkers, and Int. 968B represents our commitment to ensuring that every individual has access to the best possible care,” said Council Member Mercedes Narcisse. “By providing our medical professionals with the tools and education they need, and by raising awareness in our communities about the importance of early detection, we are forging a path towards better health outcomes. Every New Yorker, regardless of their background, deserves unbiased and informed medical care, and passage of this bill is a significant step towards that goal.”
Creating Transparency Around Sugar Levels in Chain Restaurants’ Menu Items
Introduction 0687-B, sponsored by Majority Leader Keith Powers, would require chain restaurants with 15 or more locations to post added sugar icons and factual warning statements on menus items that exceed a specified level of added sugars as determined by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) or another amount specified by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH). Eating or drinking too much sugar can elevate a person’s risk of Type 2 Diabetes, the 7th leading cause of death in the United States, and other negative health implications like liver disease and dental issues. Research has shown that sugar amount disclosers can help educate customers on sugar intake and at times convince them to choose healthier options.
“I’ll keep this short and sweet: Today’s passage of Intro. 687 will help New Yorkers make smarter dietary decisions and lead healthier lives,” said Majority Leader Keith Powers. “With diabetes and heart disease claiming far too many lives each year, the Sweet Truth Act provides much-needed transparency and information on the amount of added sugars found in our food.”
Workers’ Bill of Rights and Outreach to Immigrant Workers
Introduction 569-B, sponsored by Council Member Shahana Hanif, would require the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP), in coordination with the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA), the New York City Commission on Human Rights, and community and labor organizations, to create and publish a workers’ bill of rights which would contain information on the rights and protections under federal, state, and local laws that apply to all workers in the City, regardless of immigration status. Employers would be required to provide this information to employees and post it in an accessible and visible workplace location. MOIA, in coordination with DCWP and community and labor groups, would be required to conduct outreach to workers in the City to raise awareness of the workers’ bill of rights. Such outreach would also include information regarding Temporary Protected Status.
“As we work to welcome asylum seekers into our City’s workforce, we can’t be setting them up for exploitation,” said Council Member Shahana Hanif, Chair of the Committee on Immigration. “Labor laws exist on our books to protect all of our workers, including new arrivals and more established immigrants; this Bill of Rights will go a long way to ensuring they are followed. Our bill empowers immigrant workers to have the knowledge they need to earn what they’re owed and support themselves and their families.”
Streamlining the Process of Receiving and Maintaining a Taxicab License
Introduction 1192, sponsored by Majority Whip Selvena N. Brooks-Powers, would authorize physician assistants and nurse practitioners to conduct medical exams and grant medical approval of taxi drivers license applicants, which would streamline the application process and reduce the burden on drivers who often have long waiting periods for a physician’s appointment. Currently, local law requires taxi drivers to submit to a physical examination by a pre-approved physician before being issued a license to ensure that the prospective driver has no medical conditions that would interfere with the safe operation of the vehicle. Although current law requires that a physician conduct the examination, nurse practitioners and physician assistants are more than capable of doing so and are increasingly relied upon to conduct healthcare visits nationwide.
Introduction 1191, sponsored by Majority Whip Selvena N. Brooks-Powers, would restore taxicab licenses to their original 2-year duration, reducing the administrative burden on taxicab drivers.
“I am proud to sponsor two bills up for a vote today that seek to ease the regulatory burden placed on the City’s drivers, Introductions 1191 and 1192,” said Majority Whip Selvena N. Brooks-Powers, Chair of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. “The first of these bills, Int. 1191, will allow taxi drivers to renew their licenses every two years, rather than every year. This helps reduce the regulatory burden on drivers, who will not have to renew their licenses annually. Int. 1192 will allow individuals seeking a taxi license to secure medical approval from TLC-approved nurse practitioners or physician assistants in addition to physicians. This affords drivers more options as they seek medical clearance as part of the application process. This legislation also reflects a national trend, as more and more healthcare visits are conducted by nurse practitioners and physician assistants rather than exclusively physicians. In a time where our drivers need support, these pieces of legislation will help to uplift New York’s TLC drivers.”
Improving Parking Accessibility
Introduction 816, sponsored by Council Member Lincoln Restler, would add the Jewish holiday of Tisha B’av to the list of holidays during which alternate side parking rules are suspended. Alternate side parking rules are suspended on several holidays of significance to the city’s residents as well as all state and national holidays.
“Tisha B’Av is one of the holiest and most mournful days of the Jewish calendar,” said Council Member Lincoln Restler. “From early in the morning until late at night, observant Jews spend Tisha B’Av at shul. I’m grateful to have helped pass this legislation that will remove the burden of moving cars on such a meaningful day.”
Improving Small Business Services
Introduction 1083-A, sponsored by Council Member Julie Menin, would authorize the Mayor to establish the Office of Nightlife (ONL) within the Department of Small Business Services (SBS). Currently, ONL is housed in the Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME). ONL and SBS have previously collaborated to support small businesses in the nightlife sector.
Introduction 845-A, sponsored by Council Member Julie Menin, would reduce penalties, allow opportunities to cure for certain violations, and eliminate certain requirements for commercial establishments. Small businesses in New York City must comply with regulations put forth by numerous city agencies which provide protection for the consumers, workers, and surrounding communities of New York City businesses. Violating these regulations can result in fines ranging from zero dollars for a first violation, to hundreds, tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars based on the severity of the behavior. In some cases, responding to violations can significantly affect the financial status of a business, and small business advocates would argue that this includes violations that are minimal and can be quickly rectified.
Resolution 243-A, sponsored by Council Member Julie Menin, calls upon the New York State Legislature to pass, and the Governor to sign, S.5256/A.7196, which would prohibit the use of a confession of judgment in a contract or agreement for a financial product or service in New York State. A confession of judgment is a legal document that is used to bypass typical court proceedings and can be included with a business loan. If signed, the recipient waives their right to due process if the debt is unpaid and there is a dispute. The lender can then obtain a judgment without bringing a lawsuit. A confession of judgment is often included with loans and cash advances from predatory lenders and has already been banned in consumer loans at the federal level, as well as in New York State for out-of-state lenders.
“Codifying portions of the Mayor’s ‘Small Business Forward’ Executive Order marks a historic stride in cutting red tape and streamlining regulations.,” said Council Member Julie Menin, Chair of the Committee on Small Business. “It is vital to address these issues as responding to violations can be time-consuming and financially burdensome for businesses, even for minor infractions. Furthermore, as former MOME Commissioner and when we created the Office of Nightlife, I believe relocating the Office of Nightlife to the Department of Small Business Services is a logical step, ensuring easy access to support and resources for nightlife businesses. I thank Speaker Adams for the support of my bills.”
Calling for the Creation of the State Task Force on Missing BIPOC Women and Girls
Resolution 296-A, sponsored by Council Member Althea Stevens, calls upon the Governor to sign S.4266A/A.5088A, which establishes a task force on missing women and girls who are Black, Indigenous and people of color.
“We can no longer ignore the disproportionately high rates of missing BIPOC women and girls from our communities any longer,” said Council Member Althea Stevens. “This is not just a matter of policy; it’s a matter of justice, equity, and human rights. Our communities have suffered far too long in silence, and it’s our responsibility to advocate for their safety and well-being of BIPOC for generations to come. Let this resolution serve as a powerful message to higher levels of government, as the time for action is now. It’s time to bring about real change, ensure justice is served, and make our communities safer for everyone.”
South Richmond Zoning Relief – New York City Department of City Planning (DCP) seeks a Zoning Text Amendment to update the Special South Richmond Development District in portions of Staten Island from Tottenville through the Arden Heights neighborhoods, created in 1975 to manage growth and preserve the natural landscape of the area. This text amendment will streamline the approval process for residents who seek lot subdivisions, tree removal, and topographic modifications on their property. The Council is modifying the application to ensure known development projects in Minority Leader Joseph Borelli’s district are not negatively impacted by this regulatory change.
703 Myrtle Avenue Rezoning – Izzy Rosenbaum is seeking a zoning map amendment from M1-1 to R7D/C2-4 and a zoning text amendment to create a new Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Area (ZR Appendix F)will facilitate a new 8-story mixed-use building with 54 housing units, 4,469 sf of commercial ground floor space 11 automobile and 28 bicycle parking spaces. The Council is modifying the application to strike MIH Option 2 and add the Deep Affordability Option, resulting in MIH Option 1 and Deep Affordability Option as the applicable MIH Options, in Council Member Lincoln Restler’s district.