April 14, 2023

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In the News-New York State

Second Time’s a Charm: Albany Readies Again for Governor Hochul’s Court of Appeals Nominations

The State Senate will begin considering Governor Kathy Hochul’s nominee for Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals next week, as well as the Governor’s choice to fill the Court vacancy that will result from the Chief Judge’s confirmation.   Current Court of Appeals Associate Justice Rowan Wilson, Governor Hochul’s nominee for Chief Judge, will meet with the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday, while Caitlin J. Halligan will be considered by the Committee on Tuesday to serve as Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals.

The back-to-back Judiciary Committee consideration was made possible by Chapter 123 of the Laws of 2023, signed by the Governor on Monday, which allows her to “remove unnecessary delays and streamline” the judicial appointment process when the Governor is required to fill a vacancy for Chief Judge and then subsequently fill a vacancy for the sitting Associate Judge who was nominated for the role of Chief Judge.

Hon. Rowan D. Wilson has served as an Associate Judge of the Court of Appeals since 2017. If confirmed, Judge Wilson would make history as the first Black Chief Judge. He received his undergraduate degree from Harvard College and graduated from Harvard Law School. Following law school, from 1984 to 1986, Judge Wilson served as Law Clerk to Hon. James R. Browning, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

He then joined Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP as an associate, and became a partner in 1992, notably serving as the first Black partner in the firm’s history. While in private practice, Judge Wilson handled numerous corporate and pro bono matters. He also served as Trustee for the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and for the National Center for Law and Economic Justice, and for twenty-one years as Chairman of the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, which provides legal representation and community-based public defense services to the Harlem community.

Caitlin J. Halligan is currently a partner at the law firm of Selendy Gay Elsberg PLLC. Ms. Halligan received her undergraduate degree from Princeton University and graduated from Georgetown University Law Center in 1995. Upon graduation from law school, she served as Law Clerk to Hon. Patricia Wald of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and Hon. Stephen Breyer, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Ms. Halligan has served as head of the Internet Bureau in the Office of the New York State Attorney General and First Deputy Solicitor General for the State of New York, and from 2001 to 2007 served as Solicitor General for the State of New York. She has also served as General Counsel to the New York County District Attorney’s Office. She currently teaches several classes as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, and previously taught at Columbia Law School and Georgetown Law Center.

Governor Hochul’s first nomination for Chief Judge, Presiding Judge of the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division Hector LaSalle, did not receive the necessary votes when considered by both the Senate Judiciary Committee and the entire Senate in February.

AG James Joins Unions Calling for Boosting NY’s Minimum Wage to $21.25

30+ Labor Unions Across NY Support the Raise the Wage Act in Final State Budget

Attorney General Letitia James and labor unions joined forces this week to rally for a $21.25 minimum wage in the final state budget. New York City unions, including the NYC Central Labor Council and IUPAT DC 9, are urging Albany lawmakers to raise the state’s minimum wage to $21.25 by 2026 before indexing it to inflation. 

Over 30 labor unions across New York have joined the Raise Up NY coalition to fight for the Raise the Wage Act, which would benefit 2.9 million New Yorkers with an annual raise of $3,300.

“What labor has done for New York cannot be quantified by a dollar amount. We owe workers a debt of gratitude that can never truly be repaid,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James. “Workers are the ones who show up in times of crisis and the ones who keep us moving forward. They are essential, and they should be paid enough to afford the essentials for their families. I am proud to stand with labor leaders and hardworking New Yorkers statewide to demand the raise workers deserve.”

According to the Coalition, with the minimum wage at $15 downstate, and $14.20 upstate, wages are now worth 15% less than they were in 2019–$15 has the purchasing power of $12.75 today. 

Governor Kathy Hochul’s budget proposal would only index New York’s minimum wage starting at the current $15, increasing worker pay by $13/week for only 900,000 workers, the Coalition asserts.

Under the Raise the Wage Act, sponsored by Senator Jessica Ramos and Assemblymember Latoya Joyner, the minimum wage would increase as follows, starting in January 2024:

Year New York City, LongIsland Westchester County Upstate, Western New York
Current $15.00 $14.20
2024 $17.25 $16.00
2025 $19.25 $18.00
2026 $21.25 $20.00
2027 $21.25 plus indexing* $21.25 plus indexing*

*Annual minimum wage adjustment using the current upstate formula combining cost of living and labor productivity. With labor productivity growth, workers produce more goods and services for a given number of work hours.

New York State is not alone in an affordability crisis, as many states and cities are working to raise their minimum wages by 2027. For example, Washington, D.C., Denver, San Francisco, and Seattle already have minimum wages in the $17 to $18 range and are projected to reach $20 to $21 by 2027. In addition, Massachusetts is proposing to raise its wage to $20 by 2027.

“It’s past time for NY to break the cycle of infrequent wage increases that fail to keep up with the rising costs of living,” said New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO President Vincent Alvarez. “While we’re all feeling the pain of rising costs, lower wage workers are being hit the hardest. Most minimum wage workers struggling to make ends meet are adults, and more than a quarter are supporting families. We need to raise the wage to $21.25 and automatically adjust that wage annually-and with 81% of New Yorkers already in support, we can and must get it done this year. Three million working New Yorkers and their families can’t afford to wait.”In addition,  a growing coalition of nearly 300 businesses and business organizations across New York State support the Raise the Wage Act.  The group includes retailers, restaurants, farms, manufacturers, and other small businesses across the state.

In the News-New York City

Introducing NYC’s ‘Rat Czar’

New York City Mayor Eric Adams this week appointed Kathleen Corradi as the City’s first citywide Director of Rodent Mitigation (aka ‘rat czar’).  In this newly created role, Corradi will coordinate across city government agencies, community organizations, and the private sector to reduce the rat population in New York City.

Corradi earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Eckerd College, and a Master of Science in Urban Sustainability from The City College of New York.   At the Department of Education’s (DOE) Office of Sustainability, Corradi developed New York City’s Zero Waste Schools program and led the agency’s rodent reduction efforts.  During her tenure, she coordinated and implemented pest mitigation plans across nearly 120 public schools that led to 70 percent compliance on the Neighborhood Rodent Reduction taskforce.

Mayor Adams also announced the new Harlem Rat Mitigation Zone and a $3.5 million investment starting in Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) to expand and accelerate rat reduction work across Harlem.

Four city agencies will invest $3.5 million starting in FY23 to launch the Harlem Rat Mitigation Zone – an accelerated rat reduction plan covering Community Boards, 9, 10, and 11, and which includes 28 NYCHA properties, 73 NYC Parks locations, nearly 70 DOE schools, and over 10,000 private properties.  As part of this work in Harlem, private properties will be inspected twice annually for rat-related violations and issued violations accordingly. City locations will be inspected monthly, according to the Mayor.

NYS Department of Mental Health & Mental Hygiene, NYC Parks, NYC Housing Authority, and DOE will receive this funding to accelerate rat mitigation work in Harlem and to test new and emerging technologies to fight rats.  Remediation efforts will include new equipment (tilt trucks) to better contain and manage waste and extermination supplies, such as bait, traps, sensors, fumigation machines (including Burrow RX and CO2 machines); Rat Ice; and exclusion methods, like wire lathe around structural rat burrows and landscaper fabric designed to keep pests out.

Bills Passed by the City Council

Introduction 4-A, sponsored by Deputy Speaker Diana Ayala, would prohibit the sale of guinea pigs in pet shops. The bill, however, would still allow adoption of guinea pigs from city animal shelters and rescue groups.

Introduction 8-A, sponsored by Council Member Justin Brannan, would require disclosure of the full ticket price whenever ticket prices are displayed in advertisements for ticketed events. As stated by the bill, advertisements must display the total price, inclusive of taxes and fees. 

Introduction 128-A, sponsored by Council Member Rafael Salamanca, would require every city park bathroom to have a diaper changing table by December 2027. 

Introduction 239-A, sponsored by Council Member James Gennaro, would require the Department of Buildings to conduct targeted annual outreach to educate building owners about the benefits of installing solar and green roof systems. Outreach materials would be made available in all of the designated citywide languages and on the department’s website.

Introduction 606-A, sponsored by Council Member Alexa Avilés, would protect clean air by amending the City’s idling laws to restrict idling to one minute in spaces near or within most parks.

Introduction 675-A, sponsored by Council Member Crystal Hudson, would require the creation of a telemedicine accessibility plan. The bill seeks to expand access to telemedicine services for persons for whom regular in-person access to healthcare professionals is not reasonably feasible. 


Comptroller DiNapoli: Temporary Federal Spending Drives Up
NY’s National Ranking in States’ Balance of Payments

The increase in federal spending in response to the COVID-19 pandemic significantly improved New York’s per capita ranking in the federal balance of payments from 49th in 2019 to 30th in Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2021, according to a report released by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. 

For every dollar New York sent to the federal government in tax receipts, it received $1.51 back in federal spending, as compared to a national average of $1.70. Specifically, New York’s FFY 2021 per capita contribution to the federal treasury was $14,753, and it received $22,208 in federal spending per capita, for a positive balance of payments of $7,455 per capita. 


New Mexico ranked first in the balance of payments with a $18,878 per capita surplus followed by Hawaii ($15,945), and Virginia ($15,159). Utah ranked 50th with $3,042, New Hampshire at 49th with $3,263 and New Jersey at 48th with a $3,600 per capita surplus.

Governor Announces Final NYS Sexual Harassment Model Policy

Policy Includes New Guidance to Protect Remote Workers

Governor Kathy Hochul this week announced that the New York State Department of Labor has finalized updates to the State’s Sexual Harassment Model Policy, a template document that New York State provides to employers to help them comply with State laws. 

The New York State Department of Labor collaborated with the New York State Division of Human Rights on the strengthened guidance, which addresses remote workers, gender discrimination, retaliation, and other new guidance for workers in New York State. The New York State Department of Labor also launched a new interactive training video and online resources to help employers and employees statewide understand and comply with the newly enhanced policy and mandatory training requirements.

To follow are links to the updated information:

Mayor Adams Appoints Two New Members to Rent Guidelines Board

New York City Mayor Eric Adams this week appointed two new members to the New York City Rent Guidelines Board: Executive Director of Tenants & Neighbors Genesis Aquino as a tenant member and real estate consultant Doug Apple as a public member.

Aquino previously worked with Housing Court Answers and as the director of social services for a member of the New York City Council. Aquino currently serves on the board of directors of the Laundry Workers Center and as the co-chair of the Brooklyn Community Board 7 Housing Committee.

She received a B.A. in social work and urban community development from Lehman College.

Apple previously served as executive vice president and chief operating officer of Samaritan Daytop Village and served in city government for 27 years, including as first deputy commissioner for the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development and as general manager and chief operating officer of the New York City Housing Authority. He has also worked in the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Mayor’s Office of Operations.

Apple received a B.A. from Boston University and attended the Wagner School of Public Administration at New York University.

Later this week, the Rent Guidelines Board released the annual Income and Affordability Study, which reports on housing affordability and tenant income in the New York City rental market. Data from 2022 shows both positive and negative economic and social indicators for NYC. Unemployment rates fell and employment rates rose, as did both nominal average and total wages. But other indicators were negative, such as rising sheltered homeless levels and public assistance caseloads; high inflation; as well as increases in nonpayment cases in Housing Court and residential evictions (due to sunsetting eviction moratoriums).

Community Health Center of Richmond Awarded $500,000 Grant from Empire BlueCross BlueShield to Advance Maternal Health Outcomes

Empire BlueCross BlueShield Foundation this week presented a $500,000 grant to the Community Health Center of Richmond, Inc. (“CHCR”) to improve maternal and child health outcomes in Staten Island. The grant will support CHCR’s ongoing work to sustain healthy pregnancies, reduce preterm births, and foster strong parenting by improving access to culturally competent, quality prenatal and postpartum care.

CHCR will utilize grant funds to:

  • Expand maternal health education for patients during their third trimester, including childbirth education, birthing plans and empowering women to speak with their caregivers.
  • Expand postpartum follow-up and create more opportunities to connect families with resources.
  • Implement group prenatal care model, Centering Pregnancy, and expand cohorts across CHCR’s locations.
  • Support Staten Island Perinatal Network for Better Birth Outcomes as it transitions from a coalition to an independent sustainable not-for-profit corporation.
  • Grow innovative partnerships with select chapters of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. to increase breastfeeding education and awareness across the communities of each alumni chapter.

According to the New York Department of Health, the maternal mortality rate in New York was 18.9 per 100,000 live births.  Women with less than a high school education are almost three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than women with at least a college degree.  Also, black women are almost four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women.

In addition, this week CHCR unveiled plans for a new health center for the North Shore of Staten Island.  Replacing the 7,000 square foot Community Health Center of Richmond (CHCR) building on Port Richmond Avenue, the new 22,000-square-foot facility – Grove Avenue Health Center – will house up to 24 primary care exam rooms, four dental operatories, and four birthing rooms. 

The integrated medical services will include dental care, podiatry, pediatrics, wound care for diabetic patients, OB/GYN care, and prenatal care. Also, those eligible to have a natural birth at the center can do so on-site. The Center is expected to welcome its first visitors in the first quarter of 2026.

Coming Up

New York State

Monday, April 17th

 Assembly Session, New York State Capitol Building, Assembly Chamber, Albany, 2 p.m.

 Senate Session, New York State Capitol Building, Senate Chamber, Albany, 3 p.m.


Tuesday, April 18th

Assembly Session, New York State Capitol Building, Assembly Chamber, Albany, TBD

Senate Session, New York State Capitol Building, Senate Chamber, Albany, 11 a.m.


Thursday, April 20th

To Examine School Policies Related to Discipline and Suspension and to Hear from Stakeholders about Proposed Legislation, S. 1040 “Solutions Not Suspensions Act” 

Senate Committees on Education & NYC Education, 250 Broadway, 19th Floor, New York, 10 a.m.


New York City 

Monday, April 17th

Committee on Fire and Emergency Management, Committee Room – City Hall, 10 a.m.


Tuesday, April 18th

Committee on Women and Gender Equity, Committee Room – City Hall, 10 a.m.

Oversight – Gender Parity for Care Workers in NYC.


Wednesday, April 19th

Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management, Council Chambers – City Hall, 10 a.m.

Joint – Committee on General Welfare & Aging and the Subcommittee on Senior Centers and Food Insecurity, Committee Room – City Hall, 10 a.m.

Oversight – Food Insecurity in New York City. 

Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises, 250 Broadway – Committee Room, 14th Floor, 12 p.m.

Committee on Education, Council Chambers – City Hall, 1 p.m.

Oversight – District 79 and Adult Education. 

Committee on Finance, Committee Room – City Hall, 1 p.m.


Thursday, April 20th

Joint – Committee on Economic Development & Small Business, Council Chambers, 10 a.m.

Oversight – Tourism and the Economic Impact to NYC’s Small Businesses.

Joint – Committee on Aging & Civil and Human Rights, Committee Room – City Hall, 10 a.m.

Oversight – Ending Discriminatory Practices in Nursing Homes.


Friday, April 21st

Committee on Environmental Protection Resiliency and Waterfronts, Council Chambers, 1 p.m.

Oversight – The NYC Accelerator and Emissions from City Government Operations.

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