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Council Transportation Chair Signs Onto ‘Sammy’s Law’ Resolution 

10:32 PM EDT on May 17, 2023

Council Member Selvena Brooks-Powers (D-Queens) talking to Speaker Adrienne Adams. Photo: Credit John McCarten/NYC Council Media Unit

They're one signature closer.

The chair of the City Council’s Transportation Committee has finally signed onto a resolution calling on the state legislature to pass Sammy’s Law — a bill that would allow New York City to set speed limits below 25 miles per hour — after previously signaling only conditional support for the measure.

Here's how Streetsblog previously covered Selvena Brooks-Powers and Adrienne Adams's reluctance to sign unto a letter of support for Sammy's Law.
Here's how Streetsblog previously covered Selvena Brooks-Powers and Adrienne Adams's reluctance to sign unto a letter of support for Sammy's Law. Click to read.
Here's how Streetsblog previously covered Selvena Brooks-Powers and Adrienne Adams's reluctance to sign unto a letter of support for Sammy's Law.

Council Member Selvena Brooks-Powers (D-Queens) on Wednesday added her name to the list of pols backing a resolution by Council Member Jennifer Gutiérrez (D-Williamsburg) that is a precursor to a so-called home rule message that’s required before the bill can pass in Albany.

Brooks-Powers, whose signature was absent from a letter that a majority of Council members sent to Albany leaders in March urging them to include Sammy’s Law in the state budget, previously told Streetsblog that she supports the bill — as long as it included a provision to redesign streets for safety, especially in low-income communities of color.

“Whenever the city can claim more authority over our own streets, we should seize it, which is why I support Sammy’s Law,” said Brooks-Powers, whose family car has been caught speeding in school zones a whopping 35 times since 2020. “Lowering speed limits works best when paired with traffic calming and street safety infrastructure. … We urgently need proven, life-saving, infrastructure and traffic-calming interventions to create safer streets here for all New Yorkers.”

But Sammy’s Law — named after 12-year-old Sammy Cohen Eckstein, who was killed by a reckless driver in Brooklyn in 2013 — did not make it into the state budget last month, despite the backing of both Gov. Hochul and Mayor Adams, necessitating the home rule message from the 51-person Council if it’s going to make it across the finish line before the end of session in mid-June.

Gutiérrez’s resolution started with just a handful of co-sponsors when it was introduced on April 11 — it’s now up to 23 with the addition of Brooks-Powers as of Wednesday — just three shy of a Council majority.

But still missing from the list of sponsors is Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, who last month only offered tepid support for Sammy’s Law, telling Streetsblog during an unrelated press conference that she has other “priorities.”

And waiting for a home rule message wasn’t the only snag to impede passing Sammy’s Law; the bill had been missing a sponsor in the lower house since Assembly Member Dick Gottfried retired last year. State Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal (D-West Side) is carrying the bill in the upper house. On Tuesday, it was finally assigned to Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal (D-Upper West Side).

Rosenthal said she’s hopeful the bill will pass this year. Assembly Member William Magnarelli (D-Syracuse), the chairman of the Transportation Committee, has previously said he would only support the bill if it was accompanied by the home rule request.

“The main factor against us is time because the budget took an extra month, we lost many days of regular sessions. We need home rule from the City Council; hopefully the speaker is in favor,” said Rosenthal.

It’s unclear if she is. Last year, under Adams, the Council failed to pass a home rule message — a notable change from the actions of the previous legislative body, which had voted 42-to-6 in support of a home rule message.

Neither Brooks-Powers nor Adrienne Adams responded to requests for comment.

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