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Transcript: Mayor Adams Holds Public Hearings and Bill Signings Intro. 687-A, Intro. 845-A, Intro. 1083-A, Holds Public Hearing for Intro. 1208; and Signs Executive Order 37

November 17, 2023

Mayor Eric Adams: Thank you. Really, really exciting today. I want to thank all of our partners who are here. When you look at these bills and what we are offering, it's going to have a major impact on how we move forward as a city. And Julie, where's Julie Menin? You always have some good stuff going on. Just really want to thank us.

So, today as our administration continues to embark on working people's tour in celebration of regaining all of the jobs we lost during the pandemic and entering a new phase of our economic recovery, I am holding a hearing on four bills that protect New Yorkers health while giving business choice, make opening a small business easier and expand the effectiveness of our office of nightlife.

Intro. 687-A requires chain restaurants with 15 or more locations to prominently post added sugars to menus. This is matching what we've done already with other ways of identifying what people are eating. This allows New Yorkers to make informed decisions about their health while restaurants can continue to offer the items they like.

Intro. 1208-A reauthorizes the 5.875 percent occupancy tax on hotel rooms. This is expected to generate nearly 300 million in revenue over the next three fiscal years, as New York City continues to benefit from its booming tourism industry, which is expected to reach about 60 million visitors this year.

Intro. 845-A removes overly burdensome regulations from our hard workers, small businesses and restaurant owners. It reduces penalties and gives more business owners extra time to cure violations.

Alongside the over 100 reforms administration identified through the Executive Order 2, small businesses forward initiative, we will save businesses roughly $8.9 million every year, so they can spend more time hiring staff and continue empowering our city's economic recovery from every corner of the city.

And Intro. 1083-A moves the Office of Nightlife to the Department of Small Business Services. We are the city that never sleeps and our more than 25,000 nightlife businesses generate over $35 billion pre pandemic.

Nightlife is serious in New York City, and we do everything we can to give our multiple business owners the support they need to continue employing New Yorkers and generating economic impact.

Moving the Office of Nightlife to the Department of Small Business Services allows us to support these small businesses and the small business owners. It's something that SBS does every single day. Commissioner Kim and his team are remarkable around giving support to our small businesses because small business growth has boomed under this administration.

And so I want to thank Speaker Adams and Councilmember Powers, Menin and Ayala. And now I invite the public to comment on these bills. Public comment? Okay. Got two. And they must be quiet.

Yes, come on up.

Deanna Nara, Senior Policy Associate, Center for Science in the Public Interest: Good afternoon. It's good. Okay. Good afternoon. My name is Deanna Nara, and I'm a senior policy associate with Center for Science in the Public Interest. I'd like to take a moment to acknowledge the importance of the passage of the bill being signed today.

The Sweet Truth Act, also known as Int. 687, is historic legislation that will require added sugars warnings on all menu items at chain restaurants that contain more than a day's worth of added sugars. New York City has more than 2,000 chain restaurant outlets that will be required to display these warnings.

Fast food and fast casual chain restaurants normalize foods and drinks with exceedingly high levels of added sugars, amounts that far exceed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's daily recommendation for consumption of 50 grams per day.

Unlike the natural sugars found in unprocessed foods and vegetables, added sugars are concentrated empty calories whose excess consumption has been linked to excess body weight in children and adults. And because they lead to weight gain, sugary drinks also contribute to type II diabetes and heart disease.

With the legislation signed today, New Yorkers will soon be able to see at a glance when their fountain soda or combo meal has more than a whole day's worth of added sugars, empowering consumers with information to make better choices for themselves and their families and also encouraging the food industry to present healthier options.

I want to thank Mayor Adams for his early support on this legislation and the co-sponsors of this bill Councilmember Keith Powers and Councilmember Lynn Schulman, along with the other 36 councilmembers who signed on and supported this bill.

Most importantly though, I want to thank the community coalition of more than 300 faith groups, small businesses and community-based organizations, medical and public health groups in New York City that pushed this bill to the finish line.

This bill serves to form the first added sugars disclosure policy in the United States right here in New York City, serving as a model for the rest of the United States. We hope more cities and states will follow New York City's lead and that the food industry sees this as an opportunity to market menu items with safer sugar levels. Thank you.

Mayor Adams: Thank you, thank you. And I think our next person is Bob.

Robert Pezzolesi, Founding Convener, Interfaith Public Health Network: Good afternoon. My name is Bob Pezzolesi and I'm a founding convener of the Interfaith Public Health Network and a home missionary in the United Methodist Church. As we've heard, high amounts of added sugars in New Yorkers' diets are a major contributor to diet-related chronic diseases like type II diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, dental caries and overweight and obesity.

Moreover, these diseases and conditions inequitably impact communities of color and New Yorkers living in poverty. On behalf of our multi-faith and multi-sector Sweet Truth Coalition, I want to thank the city council and Mayor Adams for taking positive action toward reversing this crisis with this bill.

Along with our partners at the Center for Science and the Public Interest, we look forward to further legislative and executive action to improve the health and wellbeing of New Yorkers by ensuring a healthier food environment. Thank you.

Mayor Adams: Thank you very much. We also were joined by amazing Councilwoman Marjorie Velázquez. It's good to see you here. We want to now turn it over to Councilmember Julie Menin, sponsor of 84-A and Intro-1083-A.

City Councilmember Julie Menin: Thank you so much, Mr. Mayor. This is a very exciting day. Today the mayor is signing into law two bills that I have that really changed the landscape for small businesses. The first bill, Intro. 845, is going to reduce fines that are being assessed by DOT, DCWP, DOHMH, DEP, DSNY, basically, all the city agencies that are assessing fines on small businesses.

The bill also codifies into law the mayor's executive order too. And I do want to say, as a former commissioner of the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection and a former small business owner, this bill is really a game changer because it will mean that businesses will have the opportunity to cure the violation before receiving thousands of dollars in fines.

I want to thank in addition to the mayor, Commissioner Kim and his team for their partnership in getting this bill to the finish line. And I want to thank Speaker Adams and all of my colleagues who signed onto this bill.

The second bill would transfer, as the mayor said, the Office of Nightlife to SBS. I formally served as a commissioner of Media and Entertainment when we created the Office of Nightlife. And I had the really interesting task of hiring the first nightmare for New York City.

And I have to say that this position is so important. This office makes an enormous difference to help the 25,000 nightlife businesses in the City of New York. And so moving that office to SBS streamlines it, it makes sure that these nightlife businesses are getting the support from SBS that they deserve and now will have. So, it's an incredibly exciting day and I really want to thank the mayor for signing these two bills into law and I want to congratulate both of my colleagues who are here today as well.

Mayor Adams: Thank you very much. And we want to now bring on Councilmember Lynn Schulman to speak on Intro. 687-A. Lemme pull that out.

City Councilmember Lynn Schulman: I'm short, guys. Thanks. First of all, I want to thank the mayor. I want to congratulate my colleagues. A couple of weeks ago, I stood with the mayor and Commissioner Vasan to announce HealthyNYC, which outlines a plan to extend life expectancy to an all time high of 83 years. I think it's 79 now. Is that correct? Something like that. By 2030.

In order to do that, the city must reduce drivers of early death, which includes diet-related disease that can be exacerbated by added sugars. Today marks a pivotal moment in our ongoing commitment to transparency in public health. The Sweet Truth Act represents a significant stride toward empowering New Yorkers with vital information about their food choices.

By requiring fast food restaurants to disclose sugar content, we are arming consumers with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions for their wellbeing. This legislation stands as a testament to our dedication to promoting healthier lifestyles and fostering a more transparent food environment.

I'm going to go off script a little bit. I just want to tell you, one, the mayor has been very clear about his history with diabetes, and I've been told recently by my doctor, my sugar is high. I am not diabetic, but my sugar is high.

This bill gives us options. It doesn't say you can't eat something, you can't buy something, it just gives you options and education, because I can still have my favorite Frappuccino, I just have to be mindful about how many times I drink it and make some choices and decisions. So, I think that that's very important.

I want to thank the mayor, I want to thank the speaker for supporting this bill, and all of my colleagues. But the mayor has made healthcare a stalwart part of his administration, and as chair of the health committee, it's so rewarding to have somebody like that in your corner to make sure that New Yorkers are the healthiest folks in the country. So, thank you.

Mayor Adams: Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you for your work around. You've been a real partner in making sure that we're able to think differently about healthcare. I want to now bring on both Commissioner Vasan, and after him, Commissioner Kim to speak.

Commissioner Ashwin Vasan Department of Health and Mental Hygiene: So, I'll be very brief. As Councilmember Schulman said, we launched healthy NYC a couple of weeks ago, setting out a numeric target for the highest life expectancy ever achieved in New York City.

And one of the questions, we got a lot of questions about the plan, but one of the questions was, how are you going to get there? What's the plan? Underneath the plan, you can see a very clear target of reducing diet-related diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

But it's through bills like 687 that we are going to get there. It's through shifts in our food environment that we are going to empower New Yorkers to make healthier choices. And once again, New York City is leading the way. We've done this on salt, we've done this on calorie labeling, we've done this on trans fats.

We've used a variety of tools, empowering people, taking out toxins from our food. This is a part of a multi-pronged strategy. But at the end of the day, what the mayor says is true, most of these diseases, most chronic metabolic, cardiometabolic diseases are about your dinner, not your DNA.

And so this is coming at an incredible time on the heels of the launch of HealthyNYC. I'm very grateful to Councilmember Schulman, to Councilmember Powers, who is not here today, and the Health Department is in strong support of 687, and will work with the entire small business community to make sure that it's implemented for the protection of New Yorkers. Thank you.

Commissioner Kevin Kim, Department of Small Business Services: From day one, Mayor Adams has said that small businesses were going to lead us into this economic recovery. Today, crime is down, jobs are at a record high and small businesses are opening up throughout the five boroughs.

With the signing of these two bills, we are taking another big step forward in making New York City truly a city of yes for small businesses. So, I just want to thank Councilmember Menin for her advocacy, unwavering advocacy on these two bills. I want to thank Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer for her leadership and guidance, and most importantly, Mayor Adams, for keeping your promise to help small businesses propel forward faster and stronger than ever before. Thank you very much.

Mayor Adams: Thank you. We’ll sign some bills.

[Mayor signs Intro. 687-A, Intro. 845-A, and Intro. 1083-A]

And so after signing the bills, we want to also announce, and I'm pleased to announce new leadership of the Office of Nightlife, Jeffrey Garcia.

I know you'll work tirelessly alongside SBS Commissioner Kim to serve our nightlife and hospitality business and ensure that we are able to flourish and continue to grow in New York City. And joined by him is his good friend, BP Antonio Reynoso. Please, you guys, come on up, say a few words.

Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso: It is daylight savings time, so it is nighttime right now, so it's good to have you here. I just want to say I don't think that Mayor Adams could have picked a better person to do this work and to do this job.

I met Jeffrey during Covid and he had a pickup truck full of Covid supplies that he would run around taking from one restaurant and one bar to another restaurant and to another bar. All doing it through funds that were raised through the industry and doing it without the support of anyone outside of the folks in the restaurant industry.

He's a person that's continued to work tirelessly, has advocated for legislation that is meaningful and is important to the nightlife community.

He is of Dominican descent, which is something that's deeply important to us. I want to thank the mayor for getting the numbers on Dominicans up even more. I appreciate that as well.

But again, I can't say enough of someone that I consider a brother and somebody that I'm grateful, grateful that he's going to be doing this work, and I'm looking to continuing the work that he's already done under a salary in the mayor's office this time.

So, again, thank you so much for being a friend, for everything you've done to the nightlife. They say sometimes in our country, hard work gets rewarded, and that's what's happening here today. And I want to thank Mayor Eric Adams for that work and recognizing this great work by this great man. Thank you so much.

Jeffrey Garcia, Executive Director, Mayor’s Office of Nightlife: Well first, thank you Mayor Adams for entrusting in me to lead this office. It's truly an honor. Thank you. Thank you, Deputy Mayor Torres-Springer as well. I have worked with you. I was part of the transition team when Mayor Adams came in and I've been working closely with you as well. So, thank you.

Commissioner Kim, thank you so much. I've again been working with you since you came into the administration as well, and the folks at small businesses, you have a great team there. I'm happy to be part of it. Happy to continue doing the great work.

Councilwoman Menin, thank you so much. Councilman Velázquez, I've worked with you so much. BP Reynoso, when he was a councilman as well, thank you so much. We did a lot of great things together and I'm looking forward to doing many great things in the future.

But first and foremost, I really want to thank my family, My wife Jahaira, my four amazing children and one that we have in heaven, Brittany, Mia, Lourdes, and Max.

And Lucas, who's looking down on us. Without them, I would not be able to do this. I wouldn't be able to be here without them, without the support, without them giving up their time to share me with the city of New York and all of you.

But I also must thank each and every one of you out there, meaning the business owners, the stakeholders that, especially in the Latino Restaurant Association, Sandra, Susanna, who I see there, what other owners are here… Andrew, who I've worked with as a board member in the Hospitality Alliance.

You guys are the ones who entrusted in me over the last many years to represent you. And I hope that I represented you well and you are the reason why I am here today.

So, I want to thank you and I want to thank everyone out there who I have not worked with. I am here for you. I'm here to represent you as well from every borough. I know Staten Island is a borough that I haven't visited much, but I reached out to Assemblywoman Spanton out there and I was like, listen, I got to come out there and I got to learn about what Staten nightlife is all about and obviously reach every borough here.

So, I want to thank everyone. I'm looking forward to hitting the ground running and working at night. And we are very lucky in this city to have… 

And we're very lucky in the city to have a mayor who really encourages nightlife, who is about nightlife, who understands that nightlife is a big economic engine to this city. 35 billion is a lot of funds that's coming… A lot of tax revenue that comes into the city, and that is very meaningful.

So, if we can increase that, create more jobs, that's what this city needs right now, and that's what I want to work towards with this mayor, with the administration and each and every one of you. So, thank you very much.


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