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Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 8:11 pm, Thu Jan 30, 2014.

Pols say ‘Adoptee Bill of Rights’ is key for medical records

A bill pending in Albany that was sponsored by a Queens assemblyman would allow adopted New Yorkers to access their birth certificates and medical records, which they are barred from doing.

The “Adoptee Bill of Rights” was introduced by Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows) and state Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island). A hearing on the measure is set for tomorrow, Jan. 31, in the Assembly.

The sponsors, who held a rally to highlight the bill last Sunday at City Hall, say access to family medical history is important for preventive care and the treatment of illnesses linked to genetics.

“The United States prides itself in being a place in which all citizens have equal access and opportunity under the law,” Weprin said in a prepared statement. “When the status of adoption prevents adoptees from obtaining their birth records and knowing vital medical information that can be used for preventive care or to treat hereditary diseases, then, it infringes on a person’s individual freedom as a citizen as well as the health of society as a whole.”

Comptroller wants $11 minimum wages

The minimum wage in New York State just rose from $7.25 to $8 an hour and is scheduled to rise to $9 an hour in 2016. State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) wants to move up the increase to $9 in 2015. President Obama plans to hike the minimum wage for federal contractors to $10.10.

But city Comptroller Scott Stringer would go further than all of them.

In testifying on Gov. Cuomo’s state budget plan on Jan. 27, Stringer said he wants Albany to give the city permission to set its own minimum wage because the cost of living is higher here than elsewhere. He advocates raising it to $11 an hour.

“Allowing the minimum wage in New York City to rise just to $11 per hour would provide an additional $2 billion in annual income to working families in the city,” Stringer said. “That would still leave New York City’s minimum wage well below that of any other major city in the State, when adjusted for cost of living.”

Allowing municipalities to set their own minimum wage would require new legislation in Albany. Stringer pointed out that some other cities, such as San Francisco, set their own minimums. San Fran’s is $10.74.

State seeks to block EBT welfare fraud

Gov. Cuomo plans to crack down on recipients of public assistance who spend the money they get on things other than the allowed necessities, according to recent published reports.

Media investigations have found that some people use electronic benefit transfer cards to buy liquor and other products they are not supposed to purchase with taxpayer funds.

Reports quoted a Cuomo spokesman as saying, “These reforms will help ensure that public assistance is used as intended: to ensure the least fortunate among us are able to access food, shelter, and heat while limiting potential abuse and conforming with upcoming federal standards.”

The New York Post said, “The crackdown complies with a 2012 federal law — the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act — that requires states to prevent money intended for the needy from being diverted to gambling, alcohol and sexual entertainment. The state could lose up to $122 million in federal aid — 5 percent of its annual Temporary Assistance for Needy Families allotment — if it fails to root out the abuses.”

Stamps now 49 cents

The U.S. Postal Service raised the price of a stamp 3 cents to 49 cents on Sunday, the largest one-time increase in several years. The Postal Service loses billions of dollars a year. It says the increase is temporary and will last no more than two years. Forever stamps bought at lower prices remain valid. The cost of bulk mail, periodicals and packages went up 6 percent.

 — compiled by Peter C. Mastrosimone

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