Caucuses Weigh In: The To-Do List for NYC’s City Council

The City Council went back into session on Sept. 6. In the coming months, the Council's various caucuses will be pushing their priority issues for the 2011-2012 legislative year. Flickr/ambersandyslexyia

Now that the New York City Council’s 2011-2012 legislative session has begun in earnest, MetroFocus talked to six of the Council’s caucuses (groups of like-minded Council members) about their highs and lows last year, and the bills and issues they plan to rally behind this year.

Progressive Caucus

Progressive Caucus co-chair Melissa Mark Viverito. Photo courtesy of

Big issue this session: Passing the Living Wage Bill, which would ensure a minimum $10 hourly wage for workers at businesses renting from city-subsidized developments, tops the list of legislative priorities, according to the office of Caucus Co-Chair Melissa Mark-Viverito said. The bill did not pass last year but was reintroduced. The Caucus also plans to push for the renewal of the Millionaire’s Tax, a special tax at the state level on New York’s top earners.

Big win last session: Legislation was introduced limiting the amount of inmate information Riker’s Island employees provide to federal immigration officials. A hearing on the bill is scheduled for October.

Big loss last session: A bill that would require small businesses to give employees five days paid sick leave per year did not pass.

The BLA Caucus will pursue Leroy Comrie's resolution to amend scoring for the FDNY test. Photo courtesy of

Black, Latino and Asian Caucus

Big issue this session: Like the Progressive Caucus, the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus believes the passage of the Living Wage Bill is the most important issue this year, according to Caucus Interim Executive Director Johanna Garcia.

Additionally, the Caucus plans to press the State Legislature to enact a law that would help diversify the FDNY.

Big win last session: Passing a resolution, introduced by Council Member Leroy Comrie, urging the State Legislature to act on the aforementioned law regarding bringing more minorities into the FDNY.

Big loss last session: Not getting the Living Wage Bill passed.

Women's Caucus co-chair Jessica Lappin. Photo courtesy of

Women’s Caucus

Big issue this session: A representative of Caucus Co-Chair Jessica Lappin said they were still  working out a game plan for this legislative session.

Big win last session: A bill was passed which more closely regulates “crisis pregnancy clinics,” which critics claim are clandestinely designed to convince women not to have abortions.

Big loss last session: An overall increase in domestic violence in New York was a blow to the caucus, according to Lappin’s office.

LGBT Caucus co-chair Rosie Mendez. Photo courtesy of

LGBT Caucus

Big issue(s) this session: The Caucus has a long list of agenda items this year. Anti-bullying measures are being discussed, including legislation to enhance the Respect for All Initiative, according to the office of Caucus Co-Chair Rosie Mendez. The Caucus plans to try to increase LGBT — particularly transgender — reporting and surveying done by city and state agencies. The Caucus will also be working on Council hearings on subjects including homeless youth and education, and new foster care protections for LGBT youth. Finally, the caucus will be supporting the state-level Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act.

Big win last session: The caucus introduced and passed a resolution to encourage the U.S. Congress to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

Big loss last session: The caucus did not respond to requests for comment on this.

Republican Caucus member James Oddo. Photo courtesy of

Republican Caucus

Big issue this session: Passing a law that would increase oversight of the city’s $708 million program to remove toxic PCBs from city schools is this year’s big issue, according to the office of Caucus Member James Oddo. Additionally, the Caucus wants to get a bill on the agenda which would require a supermajority vote for any new taxes. A supermajority would require two-thirds of the City Council to vote in favor of legislation to pass it.

Big win last session: The Paid Sick Leave bill and the Living Wage bill were not enacted into law. Also, after being passed by City Council, the Crisis Pregnancy Center Law was ruled unconstitutional by a Federal District Court and was temporarily blocked.

Big losses last year: The city hasn’t produced passed major legislation regulating what Oddo calls the four uncontrollables: pension costs, health care costs for city employees and retirees, debt service and Medicaid.

Co-Op and Condo Caucus chair Mark Weprin. Photo courtesy of

Co-Op and Condo Caucus

Big issue this session: The caucus did not respond to requests for comment on this.

Big win last session: The caucus helped convince Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Department of Finance to repeal major tax increases for co-op and condominium owners, according to the office of Caucus Chair Mark Weprin.

Big loss last session: The caucus did not respond to requests for comment on this.

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