Tag Archives: New York State Assembly

Crucial housing laws to expire as state legislature negotiations continue

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Laws that keep rents regulated for millions of residents in the city and help build more affordable housing will expire at midnight Monday unless state legislators reach an agreement to extend or reform them.

State politicians could extend the deadline to Wednesday — when this year’s legislative session comes to an end — giving them time to work on more comprehensive reforms.

One of the laws provide guidelines in rent control and stabilized apartments throughout the city, and many fear without them hundreds of thousands of affordable housing units around in the city will be lost.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who sent a proposal to the state legislature last month, has urged members of the Assembly and Senate to come to an agreement to protect renters in the city.

“This is just unacceptable,” he said, according to The New York Times. “There are over two million New Yorkers right now who woke up this morning not knowing what was going to happen to their future because Albany is not acting.”

De Blasio’s proposal would stop landlords from deregulating vacant apartments when rents go above $2,500. The proposal also seeks to remove the allowance that landlords can raise rents on vacant apartments by 20 percent and end permanent rent hikes when landlords maintain or improve apartments.

Governor Andrew Cuomo acknowledged that they should avoid “mayhem” and not let the law expire. There is a belief that landlords could threaten rent hikes or evictions while the state works on reforming the law, but Cuomo and de Blasio has warned property owners against this.

Public Advocate Letitia James has set up a hotline at 212-669-7250 to field questions to assist rent regulated tenants who have questions or need legal help in the event that the rent laws temporarily expire.

Last week, Cuomo promised to call state legislatures beyond the end of their session until they worked out a deal, according to published reports.

The state Assembly has introduced a bill that will extend current protections until Wednesday, while they look for a more permanent solution.

Also on the table for Monday is the 421-a tax abatement, which grants developers tax breaks in exchange more affordable housing. Critics have called for reforms to this law because many critics of the program say it current allows developers to build more market-rate housing.

De Blasio revealed a proposal that will revitalize the program to and give developers 35 years of tax breaks instead of 25, but with the trade-off that projects must include 25 to 30 percent affordable housing. It also suggests a mansion tax for condos or co-ops valued at more than $1.75 million.

Reportedly, Cuomo supports a short-term extension and a revamp of the program over a straight extension of the current plan.

“I would not want to see the program expire, because then you have no construction, so, depending,” Cuomo told the New York Observer. “But on these facts, I would favor a short-term extension, so you still have the pressure on people to get a new agreement done, but you don’t actually stop producing affordable housing.”


Rory Lancman details seamless move from Assembly to City Council

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

It may have been the smoothest transition in the city.

Councilmember Rory Lancman, sipping a 7-Eleven Super Big Gulp, detailed his seamless move from the State Assembly to the City Council Tuesday in a sit-down interview with The Courier.

“It’s a different ball game, when everything you deal with is the five boroughs,” he said. “But in terms of the district office and serving the community, there’s no difference at all.”

New to City Hall, but not to New York politics, Lancman, 44, won the open District 24 seat in a landslide victory Nov. 5.

He succeeds term-limited Councilmember James Gennaro in a district almost identical to the one he served in the Assembly from 2007 to 2013.

“Jim and I have known each other for a long time. He and I supported each other politically and legislatively for many years,” Lancman said. “I don’t think there could have been a more natural or productive handoff of responsibilities.”

The Fresh Meadows attorney said even during his tenure in the Assembly, nearly all constituent services were related to city issues.

Drinking Diet Pepsi, with a splash of lemon — his choice of beverage every morning — Lancman is quick with a quip.

On snow, he says he is “against it.”

“I have a longstanding policy of being against snowstorms, and I’ve been pretty consistent,” he joked, later adding the city’s first storm was well-handled by the new administration.

And in between multiple phone calls that he answers with his Bluetooth headset, Lancman is still trying to perfect his office space.

“We need a space heater in the conference room,” he tells his chief-of-staff. “Everybody is cold.”

As he slips into his next meeting, Super Big Gulp in hand, he apologizes to his guests from the Wildlife Conservation Society.

“I promise next time there will be coffee and warmth,” he said.



Middle Village teen receives congressional, state commendations for science achievements

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The only Queens teen to make the semifinals in a prestigious national science competition has a few more honors to place on her mantel.

Aishvarya Arora, 17, a senior at St. Francis Prep, was given commendations from the U.S. Congress, State Senate and Assembly on Friday, February 8 for making it to the second to last cut in this year’s Intel Science Talent Search.

The Middle Village student was named one of 300 semifinalists, whittled down from 1,700 of the country’s brightest high school seniors, last month.

She did not advance to the final round, but her 23-page research paper on teenage body dysmorphic disorder — a psychological malady in which a person becomes obsessed about perceived or imagined flaws in appearance — landed her $1,000 and recognition from her state and country.

“[Aishvarya] is an exceptional student who through hard work and determination received [this] extraordinary honor,” said Congressmember Grace Meng. “I am extremely proud of her.”

State Senators Toby Ann Stavisky and Joseph Addabbo, and Assemblymembers Nily Rozic and Andrew Hevesi, also bestowed honors upon the budding young scientist.



Bill would stiffen sex offender penalties

| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

In an effort to keep the public safe from sexual abuse, the New York State Senate has passed a bill increasing the penalty for repeat offenders.

The Senate has approved legislation introduced by Senator Michael Gianaris which excludes time spent in prison from the 10-year period during which the actions of a repeat sex offender are deemed “persistent sexual abuse.”

Under the current law, criminals who commit certain sex crimes on multiple occasions can count time they are incarcerated towards the decade-long period in which they are subject to harsher penalties.

“Repeat sex offenders must be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” Gianaris said. “By specifically directing the exclusion of any time during which a person was incarcerated from the 10 year look back period, this bill would more effectively hold the offender accountable under the law.”

The legislation has yet to reach the Assembly floor for a vote, but if passed there, it will be sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo for signing.

“This bill is intended to prevent sex offenders who repeatedly target women and children from finding leniency in legal loopholes,” said Assemblymember Aravella Simotas, who co-authored the bill. “The legislation’s passage in the Senate is an important first step towards ensuring that individuals who commit persistent sexual abuse face the full consequences of their crimes.”