Simotas Bill To Give Marrying Couples Greater Name Change Freedom Passes Assembly

    Assembly Member Aravella Simotas

    Assemblymember Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria, Parts of Long Island City) saw the assembly this week pass her legislation amending state domestic relations law to allow newlyweds to change their middle name as well as their last name (surname) upon submission of a marriage certificate.

    The legislation now passed in both the Assembly and the Senate and will take effect as soon as Gov. Cuomo signs it.

    “It’s long past time for New York State to allow marrying couples to choose the name change that is right for them. This bill will make all the difference to newlyweds, saving them months or years of unnecessary red tape. What’s more, it shows that New York is ready to maintain its place as a leader in the areas of marriage equality and social policy,” said Simotas.

    The measure would amend the law to allow either spouse to choose to change their middle name as well as their last name and specifies that the middle name may be changed to: 1) the current last name of the spouse electing to change their name; or 2) the former last name of the spouse electing to change their name; or 3) the last name of the other spouse.

    Additionally, the bill would allow a person to revert to using their former middle name in the case of a divorce, as is currently allowed with last names.

    The bill addresses a growing trend in which newlyweds wish to retain their last name in some form, sometimes as a new or altered middle name. Many states have already altered their laws to accommodate this trend. With passage of this bill, New York joins them in making it easier for marrying couples to choose what is right for them.

    Meng Hails Passage Of Her Measure To Increase Cultural Competency Of Poll Workers

    U.S. Rep. Grace Meng

    U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Bayside, Flushing, Forest Hills, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Maspeth, Middle Village, Rego Park) yesterday hailed the passage of her measure that would increase the cultural competency of poll workers.

    Meng’s amendment, which passed as part of the For The People Act (H.R. 1), would require that poll worker manuals contain cultural competency training information so that those working at poll sites are aware of the needs of all voters.

    This training information would ensure that poll workers are able help voters who come from diverse backgrounds, live with disabilities, or have limited English proficiency – regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity. The training will decrease congestion at the voting booth, and ensure that voters are able to cast their ballots without problems or issues.

    “Passage of my provision is a huge step forward in ensuring that all voters can fully participate in our democracy,” said Meng. “Many communities throughout the country, such as my district in Queens, are proudly home to different cultures and ethnicities. But diversity should never be a barrier to voting. All voters are entitled to equal access at the ballot box, and this measure would go a long way towards making sure that happens. I urge the Senate to now follow suit and pass H.R. 1 as well.”

    Vallone, Koo Call For End To Onslaught of Robocalls

    City Council Member Paul Vallone

    City Council Member Peter Koo

    City Council Member Paul Vallone (D-Alley Pond Park, Bay Terrace, Bayside, College Point, Douglaston, East Elmhurst, Flushing, Fresh Meadows, Little Neck, Whitestone) and Peter Koo (D-Bayside, College Point, Flushing, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Fresh Meadows, Whitestone) yesterday called for the city council to hold a hearing to demand telecom companies explain the steps they are taking to protect city residents from harassing robocalls. 

    Additionally, Vallone is working with the Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer to determine which features of the federal Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACE) act, could be replicated on the city level to further deter these unwanted calls. 

    Over the past year, the number of illegal robocalls to cellular phones at all times of the day has increased to the level of nonstop harassment. These calls, which are generated through phone numbers from areas such as the Virgin Islands and Lithuania, have become a relentless nuisance for thousands of people through New York City.

    Nearly sixty percent of all complaints to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) involve robocalls, and it’s estimated that robocalls have increased by 57 percent in the past year. Telecom companies know where these calls originate and have the ability to combat and prohibit spam calls, however without being forced to act by the FCC, or legislation on the federal, state or city level, they have sat idly by.

    “Spam calls have exploded to reach an intolerable and unacceptable level and immediate action needs to be taken. If the FCC and telecom companies are going to keep ignoring the problem, then we as legislators must stand up to fight for the privacy and quality of life of New Yorkers. These companies are making billions on the backs of our citizens with no accountability or repercussions for the harassment we face,” said Vallone. “This is as common sense as legislation gets, and I believe we need penalties and fines for telecom companies who knowingly allow our citizens to be plagued and constantly harassed.”

    “This problem will only get worse unless there is a coordinated effort to pinpoint and hold accountable those responsible for the endless onslaught of harassing robocalls. The longer this problem is ignored, the more emboldened the callers will be in harassing the citizens of New York City. I join Council Member Vallone in calling for the FCC to take immediate action in order to hold the perpetrators accountable,” said Koo.

    Constantinides, Vallone Recognize Greek Independence Day at City Hall

    City Council Member Costa Constantinides

    City Council Members Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria, East Elmhurst, parts of Long Island City, Woodside ), Paul Vallone, Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan and Justin Brannan (D-Brooklyn) last night celebrated Greek Independence Day at City Hall with song, dance, and tributes to Greek-American leaders throughout New York City.

    “I take great pride in being the first Greek-Cypriot-American elected to a New York City office — carrying on our culture’s dedication, hard work, and community service,” said Constantinides. “Greek-Americans helped build New York City into the wonderful metropolis you see today. Whether it’s in my native Astoria, Bayside or Bay Ridge, we make the community a better place with our rich traditions, great pride, and love for one another. Those we honored tonight are the perfect embodiment of that spirit. I want to thank my partners in the City Council for joining me on this celebratory evening.”

    “The Greek-American community continues to be one of the most culturally proud and vibrant in our City and I am proud to join Council Member Constantinides in hosting this event every year.  This year I was happy to honor and recognize HANAC, Inc. for their outstanding contributions to communities throughout Queens and the city. Their reputation of excellence is well-deserved, as their hard work has touched many lives,” said Vallone. “I look forward to continuing to work with the Greek-American community on issues important to them, as well as sharing with them in celebration and appreciation of their rich culture and history.”

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