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Stiffer Fines for Illegal Taxicabs

New Law Ups Penalties For Lacking TLC License

New legislation that would increase the penalties for operating a livery car without a taxi license was among six bills signed last Wednesday, June 20 by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The bill, Intro. 735-A, will raise both the civic and criminal penalties for anyone driving a for-hire vehicle, such as a livery car or bus, without a Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) license. It also requires the agency to post on its website and report to the City Council information related to the enforcement of those laws on a quarterly basis.

“TLC’s licensing process is designed to ensure safety for the riding public, and this bill would create tough disincentives for those who flout the law,” said the mayor in a statement.

Among the bill’s sponsors are Council Members Elizabeth Crowley, Leroy Comrie, Karen Koslowitz, Diana Reyna, Jimmy Van Bramer, Peter Vallone, Peter Koo, Dan Halloran and Eric Ulrich.

A separate bill, Intro, 877, transfers the collection of the commercial motor vehicle tax on medallion taxicabs from the TLC to the Department of Finance.

“This administrative transfer will restore the semiannual installment payment schedule for the commercial motor vehicle tax on medallion taxicabs, thus eliminating the current ‘up front’ payment requirement that can impose a hardship on the lessees and drivers of medallion cabs that pay the commercial motor vehicle tax out of their own pocket,” said Bloomberg. “In addition, this bill gives the TLC the authority to deny a license, or the renewal of a license, for any medallion taxi that fails to pay the commercial motor vehicle tax.”

The bill was sponsored by Comrie and Koo, among others.

Whistleblower protection

Bloomberg also signed two bills into law intended to shield would-be whistleblowers on projects being funded by the city.

The first bill, Intro. 816-A, extenda whistleblower protection to employees of contractors and subcontractors working on city government contracts valued in excess of $100,000. The law prohibits these contractors from taking any adverse personnel action against an employee who reports fraud or mismanagement. An employee who has been subject to retaliation from a contractor or subcontractor would now be able to sue their employer.

Among the bill’s sponsors are Council Members Halloran, Daniel Dromm, Julissa Ferreras, Koo, Van Bramer, Margaret Chin and Ulrich.

The second bill, Intro. 479-A, requires city contractors and subcontractors having contracts valued in excess of $100,000 to post information notifying their employees of their whistleblower protection rights and the process for reporting misconduct to the Department of Investigation.

“Together, these two bills repre- sent great improvements to our whistleblower laws, working to provide more rights and protections to contractors’ employees and ensuring that those employees are aware of their rights,” said the mayor. “Sometimes it is those individuals working for city contractors who are in the best position to spot wrongdoing- and the enactment of these bills will encourage them to speak up if they witness malfeasance concerning those contracts.”

The bill is sponsored by Council Members Chin, Dromm, Ferreras, Van Bramer, Halloran and Koo.

Other bills

Intro. 688-A-sponsored by Council Members Koo, Halloran and Ulrich-codifies the Department of Finance’s existing practice of requiring applicants to submit proof of eligibility when applying for certain personal tax exemptions.

Finally, Intro. 828-A-sponsored by Council Members Ruben Wills and Chin-extends in perpetuity the city’s False Claims Act and brings it into closer conformance with the New York State False Claims Act.

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