TIMELINES – December 14, 2017

DOJ Files Appeal After Federal Court Says Military Must Accept Transgender Recruits

According to the Liberty Counsel, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) filed an appeal after the US District Court for the District of Columbia said the military must accept transgender recruits beginning Jan. 1, despite President Trump’s opposition. The DOJ is reviewing legal options to preserve the president’s decision to stop the military from recruiting transgender people. Before President Trump declared a ban on transgender military personnel earlier this year, the Pentagon under President Obama set the Jan. 1 deadline for the armed forces to accept transgender recruits. Two US District Courts, one in DC and one in Maryland, blocked Trump’s proposal to ban transgender military service. Prior to the Obama Administration changing policies in 2016, transgender people weren’t allowed to enlist in the military and those who identified as transgender were discharged.

Westchester to Increase Property-Tax Levy by 2 Percent

On Monday Dec. 11, Westchester County lawmakers approved $1.8 million for 2018 that increases property taxes by 2 percent, the first county property tax increase in eight years. All nine democrats and two republicans supported the budget to restore funding for county park curators and public works engineers. Republican County Executive Rob Astorino, who leaves the office at the end of December, plans to veto the budget and the property tax never increased during his time as executive. However, with 12 votes, the county board can override the veto. Democrat George Latimer will be sworn in next month.

FCC Granted Broadcast Consolidation

Last month, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to loosen broadcast ownership rules, which allow Sinclair Broadcast Group to purchase Tribune Media, expanding Sinclair’s reach into almost three quarters of all American households. A statement from Common Cause, a media consolidation critic said, “By blessing consolidation this majority has ensured newsroom redundancy, meaning fewer working journalists to hold the powerful to account.” Meanwhile, FCC Chairman Ajit Paj, a republican, believes that media consolidation will bring the FCC into the new digital era. In 1975, the FCC banned TV stations from owning newspapers in the same market but removed the barrier in November.

Federal Courts Rules on Housing Case in Brooklyn

Earlier this month, the Broadway Triangle Community Coalition (BTCC) resolved an eight-year legal battle regarding development in Brooklyn’s Broadway Triangle, on the border of Williamsburg and Bedford-Stuyvesant. BTCC reached a settlement over the development of affordable housing units that would create permanent low-income rental housing with the intent of promoting racial integrated and equal opportunity. The lawsuit was filed in 2009 and stemmed from a rezoning and housing redevelopment plan by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg to develop the area. The lawsuit claims the city’s plan would discriminate against housing applicants based on race and national origin. It also alleges the plan would have given preference to those living in Williamsburg, a predominantly white neighborhood, while not providing the same preference to the predominantly African American Bed-Stuy neighborhood. The settlement orders the city to issue request for proposals from, and provide subsidiaries to developers to build permanently affordable multi-family rental units.

Houses Passes Nationwide Reciprocity Concealed Carry Permit Law

Last week, House Republicans passed a bill allowing licensed gun owners to bring firearms into other states. Under HR 38, or The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, a concealed carry permit would work similarly to a driver’s license in that it would be recognized in every state regardless of each state’s permitting standards. This is the first piece of gun legislation since the Las Vegas shooting in October where 58 were killed, and since the November shooting in Texas that killed 26. Both gun owners and republicans believe the law will protect them in violent situations, while democrats and gun control advocates believe the bill will result in more shootings. Reciprocity is a top priority for the NRA.

Moore Loses to First Democratic Alabama Senator in 25 Years

Republican Roy Moore lost in Alabama’s special election for State Senator to former US Attorney Democrat, Doug Jones. Jones is Alabama’s first democratic senator in 25 years. Since November, Moore has been facing allegations that he pursued a 14-year-old girl when he was 32-years-old. His wife has stood by his side and denied the claims. During his victory speech, Jones said, “This campaign has been about common courtesy and decency and making sure everyone in this state, regardless of which zip code you live in, is going to get a fair shake in life.”