Michael Gianaris's Press releases

Senate Republicans Block Gianaris Ethics Bill Preventing Public Reimbursement to Campaign Committees for Legal Defense

Stopping yet another ethics reform measure in its tracks, Senate Republicans on the Investigations and Government Operations Committee voted down Senator Michael Gianaris’ bill that would prevent New York State from using public monies to reimburse campaign committees and legal defense funds. Senator Gianaris expressed frustration that his colleagues voted against reforming the current law that forced the state to reimburse the campaign committee of a former legislator for more than $1.5 million and pay out upwards of $560,000 more to his legal defense fund. Senator Gianaris introduced the bill (S.2262) in January in order to close this loophole and ensure taxpayers would no longer have to foot the bill when legislators are accused of crimes.

The Republican committee members who voted against the bill are Senators Martin Golden, Carl Marcellino, Terrence Murphy, Michael Nozzolio, and Thomas O’Mara.

“Today is another sad example of common sense reform losing the fight with twisted Albany logic,” said Senator Gianaris. “Only in this backwards ethical culture do some think it is okay that public financing for campaign committees only exists for those accused of crimes. I will continue working to close this loophole and I can only hope my colleagues will come to their senses on this issue.”

April 30, 2015
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Gianaris Introduces Bill to Ban State-Funded Travel to Indiana in Response to Discriminatory Law

Senator Michael Gianaris introduced a bill that would ban state-funded or state-sponsored travel to Indiana or other states that may emulate Indiana’s new discriminatory “religious freedom” law.

“In recent years our nation has finally moved forward on LGBT rights and it is important that we as New Yorkers take a stand to keep us from moving backwards,” said Senator Gianaris. “In order for our state to play our rightful role as a national leader on this issue, we need to send a loud and clear message all the way to Indiana that this discriminatory law must be opposed. I urge my colleagues to support this proposal, and I encourage states that have not already done so to follow our example.”

April 30, 2015
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Senator Gianaris: State Owes LIC High School Almost $7 Million

Senator Michael Gianaris is working to see that New York State provides Long Island City High School with the nearly $7 million the school is owed as determined by a 2006 Court of Appeals decision in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) case. Senator Gianaris, who graduated from LICHS, noted that his alma mater was owed more than all but two other schools at $6,709,960.29 in total. This astronomical figure averages out to more than $2,660 per pupil. Senator Gianaris has a long history of fighting for LICHS in the face of threatened co-locations and closures.

“Starving our public schools of the resources they need has led us to a crisis. It is unacceptable that this school, which has beaten back attack after attack in recent years, remains nearly $7 million dollars short of what it needs,” said Senator Gianaris. “We should be giving our kids every opportunity to succeed but instead the students at Long Island City High School have been forced to deal with bureaucratic distractions, and now we find out it's not getting millions of dollars to which it is legally entitled. I will do all I can to make sure this is rectified.”

April 30, 2015
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Senator Gianaris Statement on Addition of Eid Holy Days to Public School Holiday Calendar

(Astoria, NY) Senator Michael Gianaris praised Mayor Bill de Blasio for adding the Muslim holy days of  Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha to the public school holiday calendar, issuing the following statement.

"I commend Mayor de Blasio for adding these two holy days to our public school calendar, something many of us sought for years through state legislation that I sponsored,” said Senator Michael Gianaris. “Allowing time off for Eid is a recognition of the diversity in our schools, and a celebration of the contributions our Muslim neighbors make to our city. Muslim parents no longer need to choose between their child's education and the celebration of an important religious holiday."

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March 4, 2015
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Senator Michael Gianaris Leads Elected Officials and Transit Advocates in Renewed Call to Increase Penalties for Drivers Without Valid Licenses Following Queens Hit-And-Run Death

(Elmhurst, NY) State Senators Michael Gianaris and Toby Ann Stavisky, Assemblymember Francisco Moya, Councilman Danny Dromm, Transportation Alternatives and Make Queens Safer renewed calls for passage of Senator Gianaris's legislation to crack down on drivers who kill or seriously injure others while driving with revoked, suspended or otherwise invalid licenses. This proposal (under Senate bills S2539 and S2484), which is included in Mayor de Blasio's Vision Zero agenda, would make such an event a felony and would provide for the immediate impoundment of a vehicle in an accident like the one that took the life of a pedestrian on Woodside Avenue this Sunday. Assemblywoman Marge Markey carries both bills in the State Assembly.

Senator Gianaris first introduced the legislation after a truck driver without a valid license struck and killed Noshat Nahian, a 3rd-grader at PS 152 in Woodside on his way to school on Northern Boulevard in December 2013. Senator Gianaris renewed his call for these measures after Angela Hurtado was killed by a driver with a suspended license in Maspeth in January 2014. This latest incident makes three deaths in similar circumstances in just over a year.

“How many deaths at the hands of unauthorized drivers will it take before we make sure the punishment fits the crime in these cases?” said Senator Michael Gianaris (D-Queens). “It is heartbreaking to see one family after another suffer the loss of a loved one because irresponsible drivers get behind the wheel when they shouldn’t. My proposals would create a serious deterrent so that anyone thinking about getting behind the wheel without a license will think twice or face real jail time if they do so and kill or seriously injure someone. I call on my fellow legislators to pass these bills immediately before we face yet another tragedy.”

March 4, 2015
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Senator Gianaris, Assemblywoman Simotas, Councilman Constantinides Remember Senator George Onorato

(Astoria, NY) Senator Michael Gianaris and Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas issued the following statements on the passing of former Senator George Onorato.

"George Onorato will always be part of the fabric of western Queens,” said Senator Michael Gianaris. “He dedicated his long and happy life to serving others and making the communities he represented better places to live. George Onorato served our country, our state and our neighborhoods in a way that made a positive difference in people's lives. I will miss him. My thoughts are with his family at this difficult time. May his memory be eternal."

March 4, 2015
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Gianaris, Constantinides, Nolan, Community Members Celebrate Black History Month

(Astoria, NY) Senator Michael Gianaris, Councilman Costa Constantinides and Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan celebrated Black History Month at Astoria Houses in conjunction with Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, The Floating Hospital, Urban Upbound, HANAC, Astoria Cornerstone, and Minor Miracles. The event celebrated the contributions of African-Americans throughout our country’s history and honored several local leaders.

“I am honored to celebrate Black History Month with so many people who have done so much for our community,” said Senator Michael Gianaris. “As we celebrate the many contributions of this important community throughout the history of our country, we also honor those who have given their time and effort to improve the lives of their neighbors here in Astoria. To our honorees tonight I say thank you.”

March 4, 2015
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Senator Gianaris Rolls Out Ethics Reform Legislation

(Albany, NY) Senator Michael Gianaris joined Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and several Democratic Conference members to introduce a package of common sense ethics reform legislation. Among the proposals are bills that would effectively ban outside income for legislators, take away pensions from elected officials convicted of felonies, create a public financing system for elections and strengthen financial disclosure laws. In addition, Senator Gianaris authored two bills that would lower contribution limits for campaigns and prevent campaign committees from being reimbursed for legal defense fees.

March 4, 2015
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Senator Gianaris Decries DHS Placement of Sex Offender at Westway Hotel

Following recent reports of a convicted sex offender being housed at the Westway hotel, Senator Michael Gianaris expressed alarm and demanded the Department of Homeless Services do better by the surrounding community.

February 4, 2015
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Senator Gianaris Statement on Future of Sunnyside Yards

(Queens, NY) Senator Michael Gianaris issued the following statement regarding any possible development at Sunnyside Yards.

“Mayor de Blasio is right that western Queens needs more affordable middle class housing so we can maintain the character of our growing neighborhoods,” said Senator Gianaris. “It is critical that the discussion regarding Sunnyside Yards includes the community and focuses on providing the additional infrastructure we desperately need. Any future development must bring with it more and better schools, new parks and open spaces, and vastly improved mass transit, particularly on the 7 line. I look forward to working with the Mayor to ensure our existing community is consulted and protected as this process unfolds.”

February 3, 2015
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Gianaris, Simotas, Constantinides Send Letter in Support of Most Precious Blood School

- Ask Diocese to Reconsider Shutting Down School -

(Astoria, NY) Following the Diocese of Brooklyn’s announcement that the Most Precious Blood School in Astoria would close at the end of the 2014-2015 school year, Senator Michael Gianaris, Assemblymember Aravella Simotas, and Council Member Costa Constantinides wrote a letter to the Diocese to express concern over the immediacy of the impending closure and request that the Diocese explore any and all options to keep the school open.

“The outpouring of support from the community and the fear parents are now experiencing over the planned closure of the Most Precious Blood School demonstrate just how much this institution means to our neighbors,” said Senator Michael Gianaris. “I sincerely hope that the Diocese listens to the voices of our community and recommits itself to trying to find a way to keep this beloved school open.”

January 14, 2015
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Senator Gianaris Introduces Legislation Preventing Public Reimbursement to Campaign Committees for Legal Defense

(Albany, NY) Outraged that New York State must use public monies to reimburse a campaign committee for more than $1.5 million in legal defense fees and upwards of $560,000 more to a legal defense fund, Senator Michael Gianaris announced that he will introduce legislation to prevent any such payouts in the future. Senator Gianaris’ legislation will amend Section 19 of the Public Officers Law to prevent state reimbursement to legal defense funds and campaign committees for legal defense in criminal proceedings. Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh will sponsor the bill in the New York State Assembly. 

“It is sadly typical in the upside-down world of Albany that public financing for campaign committees only exists for those accused of crimes,” said Senator Gianaris. “This multi-million dollar payout is a glaring example of the desperate need to reform New York State election law, and we need to close this loophole immediately.”

December 30, 2014
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Senator Gianaris Introduces Legislation Preventing Public Reimbursement to Campaign Committees for Legal Defense

(Albany, NY) Outraged that New York State must use public monies to reimburse a campaign committee for more than $1.5 million in legal defense fees and upwards of $560,000 more to a legal defense fund, Senator Michael Gianaris announced that he will introduce legislation to prevent any such payouts in the future. Senator Gianaris’ legislation will amend Section 19 of the Public Officers Law to prevent state reimbursement to legal defense funds and campaign committees for legal defense in criminal proceedings. Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh will sponsor the bill in the New York State Assembly. 

“It is sadly typical in the upside-down world of Albany that public financing for campaign committees only exists for those accused of crimes,” said Senator Gianaris. “This multi-million dollar payout is a glaring example of the desperate need to reform New York State election law, and we need to close this loophole immediately.”

December 30, 2014
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Senator Gianaris Statement on Queens Library Board of Trustees Removal of Thomas Galante

Senator Michael Gianaris issued the following statement regarding the news that the Queens Library Board of Trustees voted to terminate Thomas Galante as President and CEO of the Queens Library system.

"The Board's removal of Mr. Galante is an important step towards righting the ship of the Queens Library system and moving it towards a brighter future. I am proud to have sponsored the new law that made this progress possible for a treasured institution that temporarily lost its way. I look forward to the day when Queens residents can again be proud of our libraries, and today we are one step closer," said Senator Gianaris.

December 18, 2014
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Senator Gianaris Joins PS/IS 78 Students for Class Elections in Long Island City

Senator Michael Gianaris joined PS/IS 78 students at their new state-of-the-art school building in Long Island City for the school’s annual class council elections. Senator Gianaris, who has attended PS/IS 78’s school elections for three years running, spoke to a packed auditorium of students about the value of democratic participation, and answered dozens of questions about what he does to improve the lives of western Queens residents.

December 17, 2014
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Senator Gianaris, Assemblywoman Simotas Secure Increased Property Tax Relief for Veterans

Senator Michael Gianaris and Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas joined community and veteran leaders and Senator Joe Addabbo, Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans Committee, to announce that their bill to provide increased property tax relief to veterans has been signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo, bringing our veterans property tax exemption into the 21st century by updating a decades-old benefit for those who have served our country. The bill will immediately raise the property tax exemption for veterans from $5,000 to $7,500, remedying the effects of inflation on a policy meant to make life easier for servicemen and women returning home.

December 17, 2014
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Senator Gianaris Statement on Passing of Luke Adams

Senator Michael Gianaris issued the following statement regarding the passing of Sunnyside icon Luke Adams.

"Luke Adams was a Sunnyside icon who dedicated his life to making his neighborhood a better place, and he will be deeply missed. May his memory be eternal," said Senator Gianaris.

December 17, 2014
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Senator Gianaris Welcomes Citibike to Western Queens

At a press conference with Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, Alta Bike Share officials, and local leaders, Senator Michael Gianaris welcomed the city’s bike sharing program to western Queens. Senator Gianaris is especially proud that in addition to the blue bikes coming soon to Long Island City, Astoria and Sunnyside are included in future plans for expansion. Senator Gianaris has worked for years to bring Citibike to all of western Queens, and Astoria and Sunnyside in particular.

"Today brings welcome news for all of us who have fought so hard for years to bring bike share to western Queens. Areas like Long Island City, Astoria, Sunnyside and many more throughout the city are crying out for this program and I am thrilled that after so much uncertainty, we can declare that bikes will be here soon. I commend the DOT and Bikeshare Holdings for moving bike share forward and making it easier to get around our city in a fun and healthy way," said Senator Gianaris.

December 17, 2014
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Senator Gianaris Encourages Western Queens Residents to Apply for Hunter’s Point South Affordable Housing

As the affordable housing lottery for Hunter’s Point South opened up for applications, Senator Michael Gianaris encouraged residents of western Queens to apply.

“The addition of 925 permanently affordable housing units in our community is exciting, and I urge all western Queens residents to take advantage of this opportunity and apply. As more and more New Yorkers flock to our neighborhoods to live, work, and raise their families, it is vital that western Queens remains affordable, and the Hunter’s Point South development represents a major step in that direction. I wish all applicants the best of luck in this process,” said Senator Gianaris.

December 17, 2014
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Senator Gianaris Applauds $25 Million Federal TIGER Grant for Vision Zero in NYC

(Astoria, NY) Senator Michael Gianaris is thrilled the United States Department of Transportation granted New York City’s request for a $25 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Grant to help make Vision Zero a reality. Included among the beneficiary schools of the funding are local schools PS 199 in Long Island City and PS 239 in Ridgewood. Senator Gianaris, an early and avid supporter of Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero agenda, wrote a letter of support for the grant application in April and looks forward to new traffic safety improvements coming to Queens, particularly in school zones. 

“This TIGER grant money is great news for all of us who believe in Vision Zero,” said Senator Gianaris. “I have worked with DOT on countless traffic safety initiatives and am encouraged to see the Federal Government recognize the worthiness of our cause. This grant money will immediately go towards implementing desperately needed traffic safety measures, including at schools in Long Island City, Ridgewood and Woodhaven.”

October 10, 2014
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