New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Legislation

New York City Council Member Ben Kallos serves as Chair of the Committee on Contracts, previously serving as the Chair of the Committee on Governmental Operations and Chair of the Land Use Subcommittee Planning, Dispositions, and Concessions. He currently serves on the Education, Governmental Operations, Oversight & Investigations, and Women's Issues.

Council Member Kallos has authored laws and resolutions that will improve quality of life, democracy, affordable housing, public health, and education.

Legislation Status:

PASSED LEGISLATION

Ethics Reform

  • Prohibiting Outside Income (Law 20 of ’16) – The City Council now works full time for the people without the influence of other sources of income.
  • Eliminating “Legal Grease” (Res. 980 of ’16) – Former Speakers used to reward Council Member allies with payments in lieu of compensation, or “lulus,” a practice that the Daily News called “legal grease.” My resolution banned it from the City Council.

Campaign Finance Reform

  • Getting Big Money Out of Politics (Law 1 of ’19) – making question 1 of the 2018 Charter Revision (8 to 1 match) effective for all special elections prior to 2021.
  • Closing Campaign for One New York Loophole (Law 181 of ’16, co-sponsor) – by limiting contributions to nonprofits controlled by elected officials and disclosing donors.
  • Quelling Special Interests Dollars (Law 167 of ‘16) – by ending the practice of matching funds bundled by lobbyists and special interests with public dollars.
  • Early Public Fund Payments (Law 168 of ‘16) – to help campaigns that take public dollars get on the ballot and reach voters.
  • Better Debates (Law 169 of ‘16) – by only including campaigns that are spending money to win.

Affordable Housing and Tenant Protection

  • Affordable Housing Applications, Tracking, and Enforcement (Law 64 of '18) - centralized applications, wait lists, tracking, registration of units, and enforcement for all city subsidized affordable housing.
  • Stand for Tenant Safety in Buildings in Large Buildings (Law 153 of '17) - tenant protections from slumlords in large buildings.
  • Stand for Tenant Safety Quality of Life Protections (Law 152 of '17) - any quality of life violation may be counted towards establishing a distressed property for transfer from a slumlord to tenants or a responsible owner.

Education

  • Students Admissions Tracking (Law 72 of '18) - counting every child who applies, is rejected or accepted, enrolls, and attend for every school.
  • School Seat Need Transparency (Law 167 of ’18) – the basis for school seat need must be disclosed in order to ensure proper planning.
  • End School Hunger (Law 215 of '17) - set goals and report on participation in breakfast, breakfast-after-the-bell, lunch, snacks, and supper.
  • LGBT training and GSA (Law 231 of '17) - LGBT training for teachers to support GSAs.
  • GPS on School Buses (Law 32 of ’19) – GPS for parents and schools to track buses.
  • School Transportation Transparency (Law 33 of ’19) – bus routes for parents ahead and test runs ahead of the school year to avoid bad routes.

Public Health

  • Happy Healthy Meals (Law 75 of ’19) – children's meals must offer water, 100% juice, or milk as the default options on the menu.
  • Cooling Tower Inspection Reporting (Law 76 of ’19) – landlords must report every 90-days during cooling season in time to stop the spread of Legionnaires Disease.
  • Water Tank Inspection Electronic Filing (Law 85 of ’19) – water tank inspection and cleaning filings must be done online.

Quality of Life

  • Catching Scofflaws (Law 45 of ’16) – Information added to all quality of life violations will help identify who is responsible and collect fines.
  • Stopping Repeat Offenders (Law 47 of ’16) – City agencies that issue quality of life violations are now required to deny, suspend, or revoke licenses and permits for unpaid fines or repeat offenders.

Construction Safety

  • Turning Down the Volume on Construction Noise (Law 53 of '18)
  • Counting Every Life on the Construction Site (Law 78 of '17) - count every injury and every life, at construction sites or face fines up to $25,000.
  • Crane Modernization (Law 3 of '18) - retire cranes after 25 years to prevent equipment failure and collapse.

Protecting Neighborhood Planning From Overdevelopment

  • Application Requirements (Law 103 of '17) - for developers to show why zoning laws should not apply to them with fines of up to $15,000 for knowingly falsifying information.
  • Financial Expertise (Law 102 of '17) - provided for the city with a state certified Real Estate Appraiser to review and analyze developers' financials.
  • Protecting Neighborhood Plans (Law 101 of '17) - by designating a coordinator at City Planning Commission to defend the city's plan from unnecessary variances.
  • Reporting on Variances (Law 104 of '17) - including the number of pre-application meeting requests, number of applications, number of variances approved or denied, and the average length of time for decisions.
  • Map to Prevent Rezoning by Variance (Law 105 of '17) - with an interactive online map of all variances and special permits granted since 1998.
  • Opening Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS) (Law 250 of '17) - signage for POPS indicating amenities with 311 listed for complaints, a website listing POPS, and increased violation of up to $10,000 for repeat offenses.

Elections Reforms

  • Online Voter Registration (Law 238 of '17) - register to vote online with a digital signature.
  • Voter Information Portal (Law 65 of ’16) – Will empower voters to track an absentee ballot, find poll site location, view ballots, and verify registration status and that votes were counted.
  • Pro-Voter Law Expansion (Law 63 of ’14) - requires 25 city agencies to provide voter registration forms and assist individuals with completing them, so everyone gets registered.
  • Online Voter Guide (Law 43 of ‘14) - saving the environment and money, while increasing access to information in off-year uncontested elections.
  • Save Paper and Money on Voter Guide (Law 170 of ’16) – by allowing voters to opt-out of receiving mailers.
  • Same Day and Online Registration Advocacy (Res. 1061 of ’16) – to pass state constitutional amendment.
  • Teens on Community Boards (Res. 115 of ‘14) – opens community boards to our best and brightest 16 and 17-year-olds

Transparency in Government

  • Online Budget (Law 218 of '17) - place all city budget documents online.
  • Open Legislation (Res. 184 of ’14, co-sponsor) – as part of the Council’s rules reform process, I provided language requiring posting legislation online and public engagement.
  • Open Mapping (Law 108 of ’15) - standardizes address and geospatial information so Open Data has location information.
  • Law Online (Law 37 of ‘14, co-prime sponsor) – puts our city’s law online for you to search, download, and read.
  • City Record Online (Law 38 of ‘14) – public notices from the city, previously published in a daily newspaper, are now online and fully searchable so you can learn what is happening in your community.

Coastal Resiliency For Climate Change

  • Reforming Waterfront Management (Law 96 of ’16) – resuscitates an advisory board for advocates, experts, and all levels of government to use and protect over 500 miles of shoreline.

Women’s Issues

  • National Women’s History Museum (Res. 354 of ‘14) – supporting Congress Member Maloney’s successful passage.

Signed into Law

extend the first ballot question on campaign finance reform from applying only in 2021 to providing that same option for special elections and the elections that follow (which already halve existing limits) in the interim:

  • Lowered contribution limits from $2,550 citywide to $1,000, $1,975 for borough president to $750, and from $1,425 for city council to $500.
  • Increased public matching of every small dollar of $175 and under with 6 public tax dollars to 8 public dollars and small dollars of $250 and under for citywide with 8 public dollars.
  • Increased public grant from 55% to 75% of the spending limit.

Unlike, question one, lowered contribution limits and increased matching would be retroactively applied to candidates that select this option.

In addition to applying ballot question one to the special election the legislation goes further by lowering the minimum funds raised threshold to qualify for a public grant by half, just as other limits are halved. The threshold for Mayor is halved from $250,000 to $125,000 and for Public Advocate and Comptroller from $125,000 to $62,500. The first $250 of an individual New York City resident’s contribution would be applied toward meeting dollar amount threshold. Participating candidates would still need to collect the same number of contributions of 1,000 for Mayor and 500 for Public Advocate and Comptroller.

Referred to Committee

A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to the
use of pesticides by City agencies

Restaurants in New York City that serve children’s meals would only be include drinks that do not contain added sugars or sweeteners. Specifically, combination children’s meals may only offer water, sparkling water, flavored water, flavored or unflavored nonfat or one percent milk, non-dairy milk, 100% fruit or vegetable juice, or fruit or vegetable juice combined with water or carbonated water as the default option. Customer could substitute a different drink of their choice by request, with monetary penalties up to $2,500 for restaurants that violate this law.

There are roughly 3.5 million private-sector workers in New York City, a significant percentage of whom have no access to retirement savings whatsoever.

This bill would facilitate voluntary retirement savings by private-sector workers to a city administered auto-enrollment individual retirement account. Auto-enrollment of employees would be mandatory through payroll deduction for employers with five or more employees who have not offered a retirement savings plan for the past two-years. Employees over 21 years of age who worked more than 20-hours a week would be auto-enrolled with a default contribution rate of 5%. Smaller employers who have not offered and independent contractors who do not have access to retirement savings would also be able to join “Savings Access New York.” Employers would not contribute to the plan and there would be no cost to employers.

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