March 28, 2016
Signs package of legislation increasing inclusivity and enhancing interpretation of NYC Human Rights Law
Also signs legislation increasing transparency of Department of Correction
NEW YORK––Mayor de Blasio today signed 8 pieces of legislation – Intro. 701-A, in relation to low energy intensity building requirements for certain capital projects; Intro. 721-A, in relation to green building standards for certain capital projects and to repeal section 3 of local law number 86 for the year 2005, relating to certain reporting requirements; Intros. 805-A, 814-A and 819, in relation to increasing inclusivity and enhancing the interpretation of the New York City Human Rights Law; Intro. 818-A, in relation to the provision of attorney’s fees under the New York City Human Rights Law; Intro. 832-A, in relation to prohibiting discrimination in housing accommodations on the basis of an individual’s status as a victim of domestic violence; and Intro. 763-A, in relation to requiring the Department of Correction to report on security indicators in City jails and repeal section 9-130 of such code, in relation to jail data reporting on adolescents.
“This planet is the only one we have, and we must do anything and everything we can to preserve it for future generations,” said Mayor de Blasio. “Intros. 701-A and 721-A allow the City to do its part in limiting our contributions to climate change by setting new standards for low energy intensity for new municipal buildings and increasing the LEED green building standards major capital projects must meet. I’d like to thank Speaker Mark-Viverito and Council Member Williams for sponsoring these bills respectively.”
“These laws are taking pro-active steps to help the City move toward our 80-by-50 plan, ensuring that New York City's greenhouse gas emissions will decrease by 80 percent by the year 2050,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “I thank my colleague, Council Member Jumaane Williams for his leadership on this legislation, as well as the de Blasio administration for their partnership in creating a greener, more sustainable New York.”
The first bill, Intro. 701-A, sets low energy intensity targets for City capital projects and sets requirements for the City to design low energy into its new buildings. Energy intensity targets captures how much energy people conserve. The City also will consider how much renewable energy may be generated onsite.
The second bill, Intro. 721-A, updates the Green Building Code to require many City capital projects to meet higher Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) standards, a widely used green building rating system. In 2007, the City first passed Local Law 86, which created the City’s first green building standards for many of the City’s capital projects. Intro. 721-A will raise the LEED standards projects covered by Local Law 86 must meet. Under Local Law 86, the City previously required many large capital projects to attain a LEED Silver rating. With Intro. 721-A, the City is raising the standard for those projects to attain LEED Gold. Intro. 721-A also expands the types of projects Local Law 86 applies to.
“These two pieces of legislation leapfrog City building practices and construction on to a new level. We will be leading by example again through cutting edge energy efficiency standards for our new buildings, as well as embedding a higher level of sustainability strategies into municipal building designs. Through strategies such as increasing sustainable building materials, recycling of construction debris, providing more daylight into our buildings and tough new energy standards, our buildings will be better places for our public servants and schoolchildren while also minimizing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Nilda Mesa, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability.
“New York City has an obligation to ensure new construction is environmentally friendly particularly when it’s paid for by taxpayers,” said Council Member and Deputy Leader Jumaane D. Williams. “I am excited to stand with Mayor de Blasio as he signs Intro. 721-A into law – a piece of legislation that I am proud sponsor of. As a City, we need to grapple with the increasing amount of new construction as climate change worsens. Now, City-owned buildings will be required to meet stricter, expanded green building standards.”
The third bill, Intro. 805-A, adds “franchisor, franchisee and lessor” to the list of types of providers that are covered under the New York City Human Rights Law as public accommodations. Intro. 805-A also adds language prohibiting the denial of full and equal enjoyment of public accommodations on equal terms and conditions, and adds language prohibiting the publication of advertisements to the effect that a public accommodation would deny anyone such full and equal enjoyment because of their protected status. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Daniel Dromm.
The fourth bill, Intro. 814-A, clarifies that the Human Rights Law is to be interpreted expansively in order to maximize civil rights protections in all circumstances. This bill requires that exemptions and exceptions from the general provisions of the Human Rights Law are to be construed narrowly in order to maximize deterrence of discriminatory conduct. In addition, Intro. 814-A specifically names certain court decisions that have properly construed provisions of the Human Rights Law. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Brad Lander.
“New York City's Human Rights Law contains a remarkable provision. Built right into the law is the requirement that the law be 'construed liberally for the accomplishment of the uniquely broad and remedial purposes,' even where state and federal laws don't go as far,” said Council Member Brad Lander and Deputy Leader for Policy. “By identifying cases where judges correctly understood this requirement, we help ensure that the law is enforced broadly and creates the strongest legal deterrent to discrimination. Strengthening New York City's pioneering Human Rights Law and the Commission on Human Rights' ability to enforce it has been a hallmark of the City Council under Speaker Mark-Viverito's leadership and the leadership of the de Blasio administration. I'm proud to be a co-sponsor of multiple bills to strengthen our human rights code.”
The fifth bill, Intro. 818-A, gives the Human Rights Commission the authority to award attorney’s fees, including expert fees, for a prevailing complainant in a matter brought before the Commission. Intro. 818-A also directs courts to include expert fees in the award of attorney’s fees for a prevailing party in state or federal court. Additionally, this bill would require that courts and the Commission apply the hourly market-rate fee charged by attorneys of similar skill and experience practicing in New York County. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Darlene Mealy.
“As the Chair of the Civil Rights Committee in the New York City Council, I have dedicated my efforts to fight against all forms of discrimination. Intro. 818-A is a great piece of legislation which will deter discriminatory acts as well as offer additional damages to plaintiffs. While we have come a long way, we must continue to do more,” said Council Member Darlene Mealy, Chair of the Committee on Civil Rights.
The sixth bill, Intro. 819-A, repeals an antiquated and homophobic disclaimer with respect to the provision of the human rights law regarding sexual orientation. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Rosie Mendez.
The seventh bill, Intro. 832-A, makes it unlawful to discriminate in housing against an individual because of that individual’s status as a victim of domestic violence. This bill would make it an unlawful discriminatory practice for landlords and other agents of real estate to refuse to sell, rent or lease, or otherwise deny an interest in a housing accommodation because of an individual’s actual or perceived status as a victim of domestic violence. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Jumaane Williams.
“The New York City Human Rights Law grows even stronger today with the signing of bills that clarify and strengthen anti-discrimination protections for everyone in New York City,” said Commissioner for the Commission on Human Rights Carmelyn P. Malalis. “These new amendments allow us to further protect the most vulnerable among us and ensure that everyone who lives in, works in and visits the city receives the same rights and opportunities under the law. Thank you, Mayor de Blasio and City Council members for continuing to improve our City’s Human Rights Law, making it one of the strongest in the nation. I look forward to implementing these protections and engaging communities and stakeholders across the city about their rights and responsibilities under the law.”
“We have a responsibility to do everything in our power to support and protect victims of domestic violence,” said Council Member Jumaane D. Williams. “Too often, victims of domestic violence are evicted or prevented from renting apartments simply because they have been abused – this is not only wrong, it’s horrifying. Today, I am proud to stand with Mayor de Blasio as he signs Intro. 832-A into law, making housing discrimination against victims of intimate partner violence and stalking illegal.”
The eighth bill, Intro. 763-A, amends the administrative code of the City of New York, in relation to requiring the Department of Correction to report on security indicators in City jails. This bill will add a greater measure of transparency with respect to the important issue of violence in the City’s jails. Previously, the Mayor signed a bill that required reporting of violence among adolescents, 16- and 17-year-olds in the City’s jails. Intro. 763-A expands reporting to cover inmates of all ages. The bill will make public statistics on assault involving inmates and staff as well as any allegations or incidents of sexual assault. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland.
“As the Department of Correction moves full speed ahead on our 14-point, anti-violence reform agenda, we recognize the importance of government transparency and the public’s need for timely and accurate information about our facilities. This legislation furthers those goals,” said Joseph Ponte, Commissioner of the Department of Correction.
“I am proud that the Mayor is signing Intro. 763-A, which will help us better understand what happens in the Department of Correction. At Elmhurst Hospital – my community’s local hospital – we see the victims who experienced violence on Rikers Island every day. The first step to stopping this is to understand it, and I’m hopeful that with these new requirements we will have more information to help reform the system and improve the safety of employees and inmates alike,” said Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland.