Council Passes Bills on School Safety, People With Disabilities, and Open Government

July 24, 2014 8:03 pm Last Updated: July 24, 2014 8:03 pm

The City Council approved four bills on Thursday that will become law once Mayor Bill de Blasio signs them.

The council passed Avonte’s Law intending to safeguard children who may wander out of a school building. The law was named in honor of Avonte Oquendo, an autistic teen who left his school building and was found dead months later.

The law initially required all school buildings to install door alarms, but was stripped down since the Department of Education found that task too complex to carry out. Instead, the department is mandated to produce a report on the matter for the City Council. The bill also requires the Education Department to look into training teachers and security staff.

Avonte’s Law was introduced and promoted by Robert Cornergy, a freshman Council member. Cornergy received praise from many Council members during the Council meeting for his dedication to passing the bill.

The council also approved a law that will freeze rents for the disabled people who live in rent-regulated housing and pay more than 30 percent of their income for rent.

The law impacts approximately 1,000 New Yorkers who live in households earning less than $50,000. It is similar to a rent increase exemption for seniors that the Council approved earlier this year.

Another bill passed by the council would require the Law Department to publish the city’s laws online in a user-friendly, downloadable, and searchable format. The laws are currently put online by a contractor, but cannot be downloaded and are not updated regularly. The new law would require either the law department or its contractor to update the laws at least once every four weeks.

Finally, the council also approved legislation that would mandate that the City Record, the city government’s official newspaper for notices, be made available online in a searchable format. The City Record is currently available in standalone, printer friendly issues that cannot be searched as a whole.