LEGISLATIVE AGENDA

Keeping cell phones active in an emergency

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After hurricanes like Harvey, Irma  and Maria wreaked havoc on the south, and some of the country’s Caribbean territories, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer is pushing a new bill though Congress that would require all cell phone carriers to carry all signals during emergencies when cell towers fall.

The bill, known as Securing Access to Networks in Disasters Act — or the SANDy Act — would force cell phone companies to share networks in the event of an emergency, assigning priority access to 911.

The bill also would push 911 service access through Wi-Fi hotspots during emergencies, and work to allow all communications providers — television, landline and radio — to fix outages faster, even across state lines. 

Schumer also wants to “harden” cell infrastructure, making it less susceptible to damage, although he didn’t detail how that would be accomplished.

 

Supporting families of slain public servants

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz has introduced a bill that he says will help protect the families of public servants who die protecting their community.

If passed in its present form, the government would provide up to $1,000 per month for a family of a deceased police officer, firefighter and emergency medical services worker to help offset the cost of rent or mortgage payments. 

This would be given in addition to pension benefits, life insurance payments, and funds from non-profits.

There is a senate version of the bill introduced by Jose Peralta, and is supported by the three major benevolent associations that support police officers, firefighters and EMS personnel.

 

Espaillat pushes anti-hate bill in Congress

U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat is hoping to get some Republican support on a bill he introduced last week with U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans of Pennsylvania he says will prohibit federal funds from being used to create, maintain or display any Confederate symbol. 

The No Federal Funding for Confederate Symbols Act, would not only prohibit federal funds from being used for Confederate symbols, but it also would remove such symbols from any federal public land, including highways, parks, subways, federal buildings and even military bases.

Espaillat’s office estimates there are as many as 1,500 Confederate symbols in federal public spaces, including 109 public schools that are named after Confederates — many with large African-American student populations. 

There also are 17 U.S. military bases named after Confederate military leaders, including Fort Bragg in North Carolina (named for Gen. Braxton Bragg) and Fort Hood in Texas, for Gen. John Bell Hood.

“We recognize these symbols for what they are, and for the abhorrence they represent, still today,” Espaillat said. 

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