Williams Advocates Emergency Response Legislation In Council Hearing

January 26th, 2021

Press Release

Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams called for passage of two bills aimed at correcting city and state failures to meet the COVID-19 state of emergency and preparing for any further crises at a hearing of the Committee on Fire and Emergency Management today. The bills would create an emergency response task force for citywide action and mandate an emergency student food plan in the event schools are closed. Watch the hearing here.

"The bills before the Committee today are intended to be proactive measures in the face of a crisis. New Yorkers deserve immediate answers. Instead, what we saw and heard was a wait-and-see approach. This cannot be the standard in the future," said Public Advocate Williams of the bills. "The intention of these bills is having New York City prepared. Whether it is another pandemic or natural disaster, New Yorkers need assistance and assurances of leadership, and I thank Chair Borelli and Speaker Johnson for recognizing the need to prepare now."

The first bill, Intro 1987, would establish a task force that would be responsible for reviewing each City agency's emergency plan and issuing an annual report with recommendations should any concerns be identified. The task force would be composed of nine members, including the Commissioner of Emergency Management, or the Commissioner's designee, as well as individuals appointed by the Mayor, the Speaker of the Council and the Public Advocate. The task force would be required to hold a public hearing at least once a year, regardless of whether a state of emergency is in place.

The second, Intro 2057, would require the Office of Emergency Management, in consultation with the Mayor's Office of Food Policy and the Department of Education (DOE) to develop a plan to provide students with breakfast, lunch and dinner in the event that City schools are ordered closed either by the governor, mayor or chancellor, or when any form of remote learning is being used by the DOE. Every person under 21, without a high school diploma, and enrolled in a school qualifies for food assistance - crucial as over one million New York City residents live in food insecure households.

Read the full statement from the Public Advocate for today's hearing below, or download it here.

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