Wyandanch, NY – Newly-elected Suffolk County Legislator Jason A. Richberg has wrapped up his first 100 days in office. In just over three months, Legislator Richberg has worked tirelessly to represent the people of the 15th district, introducing 15 pieces of legislation, conducting community outreach to help residents navigate the COVID-19 crisis, and coordinating with local organizations to make sure residents have the supplies and equipment they need to safely quarantine.
“I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish in our first 100 days,” said Legislator Richberg. “I never imagined I would enter public office as the world was met with a global pandemic that would affect every aspect of our day-to-day lives, but I’ve learned over my career in public service that there’s nothing our community can’t accomplish when we come together. I made a vow to take the time to listen to the concerns of the public, and in my first 100 days in office I’ve taken my direction from my district’s residents. I’m humbled by the opportunity to represent them, and I look forward to continuing to earn their trust and build on the progress we’ve already made.”
Legislator Richberg introduced several important pieces of legislation that passed through the legislature with bipartisan support:
IR1361-2020: A Local Law to amend Chapter 528 of the Suffolk County Code to prevent discrimination based on certain visible characteristics.
This local law aims to protect residents with certain hairstyles and religious garments from being unfairly discriminated against because of these visible traits. Under existing Suffolk County law, it is unlawful to discriminate based on a person’s group identity, which includes their actual or perceived race, color, creed, age, national origin, alienage or citizenship status, gender, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, or familial status, as well as actual military status. This legislation adds certain physical attributes, such as protective hairstyles, braids, hair textures, and religious garments, as components of group identity under the county’s Human Rights Law.
“I introduced IR1361 because I feel strongly it is of critical importance that in a fair and just society, people are judged by the content of their character, not their physical features; by their merits, not by what they’re wearing,” said Legislator Richberg.
IR1369-2020: A Local Law to establish procedures for the 215 Redemption Process in times of crisis.
When Suffolk County takes a tax deed due to unpaid taxes, residents are given an opportunity to redeem their property provided that all arrears, interest, fees and penalties are paid and required documentation is submitted. The hardship application process, known as a 215 Redemption, provides a 60-day window for application completion. This legislation extends that timeframe by 30 days during a disaster declaration for Suffolk County issued by the President, Governor or County Executive.
IR1573-2020: Commemorating Juneteenth in Suffolk County.
Juneteenth is celebrated annually to commemorate June 19, 1865, the day Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, and brought news that slavery had been abolished more than two years earlier. Beginning in 2021 and continuing every year, Suffolk County will celebrate Juneteenth on June 19 with educational events and programming to honor the significance of June 19, 1865 in American history.
Legislator Richberg also joined Legislators Susan A. Berland, Samuel Gonzalez, and Kevin McCaffrey in co-sponsoring IR-1019-2020, “A Local Law to ensure Fair Employment Screening in Suffolk County,” also known as “Ban the Box.” “Ban the Box” refers to eliminating the section on job applications that asks prospective employees about their past criminal history. Under the new Suffolk law passed with bipartisan support, employers with 15 employees or more would not be able to inquire about prior convictions until later in the hiring process, either after an initial interview or after an application is filed if there is no interview.
“I am a proud supporter of ‘banning the box’ in Suffolk County,” said Legislator Richberg. “This legislation will give many job applicants a fair shot by allowing them to explain their past crimes, and not have their application thrown out before even receiving an interview, boosting their chances of getting hired and reducing the likelihood of reoffending.”
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Legislator Richberg teamed up with community organizations and other elected officials to acquire and distribute personal protective equipment like face masks and hand sanitizer to residents and organizations in need. He joined residents to assist with food donation and distribution efforts throughout the district and was on the forefront of fighting for additional testing sites in communities of color. He ensured residents had accurate, up-to-date information by hosting virtual town hall meetings with community leaders and using social media to help spread awareness of available resources and make sure his constituents had the guidance needed to keep themselves and their families safe.
Legislator Richberg was appointed by Presiding Officer Robert Calarco to serve as Chair of the legislature’s Budget and Finance Committee, which reviews and considers legislative proposals affecting the budgetary process for the more than $3-billion county budget. Additionally, Richberg serves on four other legislative committees: Government Operations, Personnel, Information Technology and Diversity, as Vice Chair; Seniors and Human Services; Education and Labor; and Economic Development, Planning and Housing.
“I would like to thank Presiding Officer Calarco for appointing me to serve on these five committees,” said Legislator Richberg. “I am excited to dig in and start working with all of the committees, but I am especially proud to be entrusted to chair the Budget and Finance Committee. As a former legislative aide and clerk of the legislature who sat in on many past budget negotiations, I am extremely familiar with the process and know the hours of careful consideration that go into managing a multi-billion-dollar budget. It is not an easy job, and it is going to be all the more challenging given the impact of COVID-19, but it is a crucially important part of what we do at the legislature.”