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Higgins announces passage of legislation to increase ride-share safety, assist child care facilities & working families during COVID

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Thu, Jul 30th 2020 10:30 am

New passenger protections added for ride-hailing consumers

Congressman Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, announced passage of H.R. 4686, Sami’s Law. The bill requires transportation network companies (TNC) ensure drivers display front and rear license plates, scannable codes on windows for riders to verify they are entering the correct vehicle, and illuminated signs visible both day and night to ensure the safety of passengers.

Higgins said, “As ride-sharing continues to be a major method of transportation in our communities, the need arises to increase safety precautions for the benefit of our residents. This legislation takes crucial steps in avoiding further tragedies by ensuring riders can identify their designated driver through a number of common-sense improvements.” 

The bill is named for Samantha Josephson, a University of South Carolina student from New Jersey who was tragically killed when she entered the vehicle of someone pretending to be an Uber driver. 

To ensure the implementation of these safety precautions, the bill directs the Department of Transportation (DOT) to withhold a portion of federal-aid highway funds if the state has not enacted and is not enforcing certain TNC vehicle identification laws.

A "transportation network company" is defined as an entity that uses a digital network to connect riders to affiliated drivers to transport the rider to their location using a vehicle authorized for use by the driver.

Assisting Child Care Facilities & Working Families during COVID

Higgins announced passage of H.R. 7027, the Child Care is Essential Act, and H.R. 7327, the Child Care for Economic Recovery Act. The two bills aim to assist child care providers in dealing with the costs they are facing as a result of the coronavirus outbreak as well as assisting working families with access to care.

“Our child care facilities are another vital and necessary part of our community that was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. These two bills will help shore up their financials so they can continue providing the care our children deserve,” Higgins said. The child care industry has been severely impacted by COVID-19. Many child care providers remain closed as a result of the pandemic, with one report by the Center for American Progress finding that, if the child care industry does not receive sufficient financial support, as much as half of the country’s child care capacity is at risk of permanent closure.

The Child Care Is Essential Act (H.R. 7027) would provide $50 billion in appropriations for the Child Care Stabilization Fund to award grants to child care providers during and after the coronavirus public health emergency. The grants, available to child care centers and home-based child care providers, can be used for staffing, personal protective equipment, safety measures, professional development, mortgage/rent/utilities, mental health support for children and employees, and other goods, services and modifications necessary in response to coronavirus.  A condition of the grant requires child care providers to provide families with relief on payments. 

The Child Care for Economic Recovery Act (H.R. 7327) would modify certain tax provisions to increase and make refundable the child and dependent care tax credit and allow employers payroll tax credits for certain fixed expenses of child care facilities closed due to coronavirus. The bill also provides $850 million to states to fill in gaps in child care availability for essential workers and it makes a $10 billion investment over the next four years to improve child care facilities. 

Congress previously approved an additional $3.5 billion in funding for the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) as part of the CARES Act in late March to provide additional support to child care providers during the COVID-19 pandemic. In May, the House passed the Heroes Act, which would provide another $7 billion in CCDBG funding, along with $850 million in funding for child care for essential workers through the Social Services Block Grant.

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