Simotas Introduces Legislation Strengthening Protections Against Sexually Motivated Violence

    Assemblymember Aravella Simotas

    Assemblymember Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria, Parts Of Long Island City) yesterday announced that she has introduced legislation (A7082) that would combat intimate partner violence by ensuring abusers can be held accountable for physical violence committed for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification where the conduct doesn’t cause injury or the injuries do not rise to the legal definition of physical injury.

    The bill corrects a deficit in the law that Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas identified during her investigation into abuse allegations against former NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The limitations in current state law fail to recognize the lasting emotional and psychological harm these acts can cause.

    “I want to thank District Attorney Singas for bringing this loophole in the law to my attention. This legislation is a way to protect survivors of intimate partner violence by holding abusers accountable,” said Simotas. “It is shocking that New York District Attorneys do not have the legal means to bring justice to survivors of violence committed for sexual gratification unless the violence rises to extreme levels. When a survivor has the courage to come forward and report this type of abuse, it is unconscionable that the perpetrator would be able to evade all consequences for their actions.”

    The Simotas bill would create a new protection against non-consensual violence, defined thus:  “A person is guilty of sexual harassment when, with the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification, and without consent, he or she slaps, strikes, shoves or kicks another person.”  The offense would have a two-year statute of limitation.

    Lancman Bills Concerning Bail Reform Gets Hearing

    City Councilman Rory Lancman.

    City Council Member Rory Lancman (Kew Gardens Hills, Pomonok, Electchester, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest, Jamaica Estates, Briarwood, Parkway Village, Jamaica Hills, Jamaica) today will see of his proposed bills regarding bail reform get a hearing before the council’s Criminal Justice Hearing.

    The first measure would require the Department of Correction (“DOC”) to notify incarcerated individuals and defense attorneys when an incarcerated individual is detained solely on a bail amount of less than ten dollars.

    This second bill would remove the 2.49% fee charged on credit card payments of cash bail made using the online bail payment system, and would also remove the 8% fee charged on credit card payments of cash bail made in person,

    The public hearing is slated for 10 a.m., today, April 9 at City Hall in Lower Manhattan.

    Weprin, Liu Celebrate Passage Of Religious Garb Bill

    Assemblymember David Weprin

    State Sen. John Liu

    Assemblyman David I. Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows, Richmond Hill) and State Sen. John C. Liu (D-Bayside, Flushing, College Point) today will hold a press conference announcing the passage of “The Religious Garb Bill” in the Senate.

    The measure will prevent workplace discrimination against  religious attire and appearances including facial hair. It was inspired by the story of Sikh MTA subway operator Kevin Harrington, who was ordered to remove his turban or deface it with an MTA logo. Harrington was an Irish Catholic who converted to Sikhism and was an MTA E train operator, and hero during 9/11 when he actually drove the E train back and forth while the buildings were burning in the World Trade Center and actually rescued hundreds of individuals and brought them to their safety while risking his life, according to Weprin.

    The bill successfully passed the Assembly with a vote of 106 to 1. Weprin first introduced the bill in 2011 and it has passed in the assembly every year since 2013. This year, Liu carried the bill in the senate and it recently passed.

    The celebration for the bill’s passage is slated for 12 noon today on the Million Dollar Staircase of the State Capitol Building in Albany.

    Dromm Applauds De Blasio’s First Ever Youth Civics Week

    City Council Member Daniel Dromm

    City Council Member Daniel Dromm (D-Elmhurst, Jackson Heights) yesterday lauded the de Blasio Administration launch of the city’s most robust civic engagement effort at schools of all grade levels and colleges across New York City.

    Dubbed DemocracyNYC, the effort will encourage students to register to vote and participate in the City’s first-ever Civics Week program, which aims to increase civic participation and empower the voices of New York City students.

    During Civics Week, students at Department of Education schools will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of activities that will help students hone their public speaking skills, encourage them to participate in Participatory Budgeting, connect students with community leaders and elected officials, and give students an opportunity to participate in town halls to discuss issues that matter to them and their communities.

    “I urge all NYC youth to register to vote and become active participants in our democracy,” said Dromm. “As we have seen in recent years, great things happen when young people become engaged in the electoral process. I am grateful to the administration and to CUNY for spearheading this important initiative.”

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