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Aravella uses her position to fight on behalf of those without power - and she gets results.

Keep up with the latest stories on Astoria and Aravella’s work in the Assembly.

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About Aravella

Aravella Simotas has always been a fighter for the working class. Coming from an immigrant family with limited means, Aravella grew up in rent-stabilized housing in Astoria. From an early age, she focused on working hard to achieve a better life and learned the value of giving back to her community.

Aravella attended local public schools P.S. 17, Junior H.S. 126, and William C. Bryant High School. She went on to graduate summa cum laude from Fordham University at the age of 20 and earned her law degree from Fordham University School of Law at 23. During law school, she was the managing editor at the Fordham Environmental Law Journal.

About Aravella

Aravella Simotas has always been a fighter for the working class. Coming from an immigrant family with limited means, Aravella grew up in rent-stabilized housing in Astoria. From an early age, she focused on working hard to achieve a better life and learned the value of giving back to her community.

Aravella attended local public schools P.S. 17, Junior H.S. 126, and William C. Bryant High School. She went on to graduate summa cum laude from Fordham University at the age of 20 and earned her law degree from Fordham University School of Law at 23. During law school, she was the managing editor at the Fordham Environmental Law Journal.

Causes

Causes

AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Aravella is fighting hard to #CancelRent in the wake of the COVID crisis. Growing up, Aravella saw firsthand how important affordable housing protections are to families working to build a better life. When her family first immigrated to this country, the only reason they were able to achieve upward mobility was because of rent stabilization. Hearing the stories of families in Astoria dealing with similar struggles inspired her to fight to pass the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act, which expanded rent regulations, prevented unfair rent increases and removed financial incentives for landlords to force renters out of their homes. Aravella is co-sponsoring legislation to prohibit evictions without good cause, create the Home Stability Support Program to provide rental assistance to families at risk of losing their housing, and establish sustainable long-term funding for public housing.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM

Aravella believes access to justice should never be dependent on socioeconomic status, which is why she has fought to eliminate cash bail and protect the constitutional right to a speedy trial. She has introduced legislation to expand criminal record relief so people convicted of crimes as teenagers can fully integrate into their communities without being continuously stigmatized for mistakes made in their youth. Aravella is co-sponsoring legislation to legalize marijuana and end the cruel and inhumane practice of solitary confinement in New York prisons. She is working to increase transparency and accountability in law enforcement by co-sponsoring a full repeal of Section 50-a of the Civil Rights Law and the Police Statistics and Transparency Act to make information on police misconduct accessible to the public.  Aravella is committed to ending the school to prison pipeline and supports measures to end the use of biased surveillance technology and harsh, ineffective disciplinary practices that disproportionately impact students of color.

COVID RECOVERY

Aravella is fighting to cancel rent and provide mortgage relief to New Yorkers who have lost income during the pandemic. She is working to provide hazard pay to frontline workers and to ensure workers exposed to coronavirus receive workers compensation. And she knows we need to raise taxes on the wealthy to bolster the social safety net. She has authored legislation to enable medically vulnerable patients to safely access their medications and called for seniors only shopping hours at all supermarkets. When pregnant New Yorkers were being forced to go through labor without their partners, Aravella took action so that no one would have to face childbirth alone. She has also advocated for the state to require insurers to cover all COVID related losses so our small businesses can survive this crisis. Most recently, Aravella passed legislation making it easier for New Yorkers to vote from home by extending deadlines and allowing electronic applications for absentee ballots. Aravella secured $25,000 to provide meals to families experiencing food insecurity during the COVID crisis and will provide hundreds of additional meals in the weeks ahead.

 

WOMEN’S RIGHTS

Aravella led the push to pass a landmark “Sexual Assault Survivors Bill of Rights” and laws requiring timely testing and preservation of rape kits. She proudly co-sponsored the Reproductive Health Act, to enshrine the fundamental right to choose in New York State law. Last year, Aravella passed a series of comprehensive reforms to combat sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace and a law to extend the statute of limitations for rape so that survivors have sufficient time to pursue justice. She is continuing her fight against sexual harassment through her bills to prevent the abuse of non-disclosure agreements, expand protections against retaliation and require employees to complete bystander intervention training. Aravella is also working to pass a package of bills addressing sexual abuse in healthcare and legislation to hold district attorneys accountable for mishandling sexual assault reports.

IMMIGRATION

Aravella has fought to keep ICE agents out of our courthouses and introduced legislation to ensure threats of deportation are not used to intimidate immigrants and prevent them from reporting crimes or seeking orders of protection. She co-sponsored the NY DREAM Act to expand access to higher education for undocumented students and the Green Light Bill to restore driver's licenses for all. Aravella is working to make New York a sanctuary state, create a right to legal counsel in deportation proceedings, and allow undocumented immigrants to receive state-sponsored health insurance.

HEALTHCARE

Aravella knows first-hand the difficulty of working with insurance companies once medical bills start stacking up. That’s why she supports the New York Health Act to establish a universal, single payer healthcare system so that nobody is underinsured or forced to seek benefits from companies that put profit before people. Aravella authored a law that made New York the first state in the nation to create a special insurance enrollment period for pregnancy so that everyone has the opportunity to access vital prenatal care. She has also written laws to expand insurance coverage for infertility treatment and create programs to reduce infant mortality rates.

LGBTQ Rights

Since her first day in office, Aravella has been a champion for LGBTQ rights. She proudly co-sponsored the Marriage Equality Act in 2011, the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act and conversion therapy ban that were signed into law in 2019. Most recently she co-sponsored the Child Parent Security Act to legalize gestational surrogacy so that same-sex couples can build the families they choose. Aravella has introduced legislation to establish a Bill of Rights for LGBTQ residents in long-term care facilities and prohibit discrimination against transgender parents in custody cases. She is currently co-sponsoring legislation to make it less burdensome for New Yorkers to change their names and gender markers on official documents, provide a nonbinary option on driver's licenses, and end discriminatory arrests and harassment of transgender women of color.

SCHOOLS AND CHILDREN

Aravella fights for local schools and has secured critical funds to improve our kids’ learning environments. She has held rallies to save local schools and provided grant money to schools in need, including over five million dollars in 2019 alone. Aravella was an early supporter of the Child Victims Act and is currently working to extend the lookback period so survivors have more time to come forward. She is also sponsoring legislation to improve child product safety and protect young children from toxic chemicals.

TRANSPORTATION

Aravella understands the importance of affordable, reliable transit service for people in the community who depend on public transportation. She has fought to increase funding for public transit and supported congestion pricing to raise revenue for the MTA. Aravella is co-sponsoring legislation to improve bus service and actively working to ensure that the MTA produces a robust new busing plan that addresses the needs of Astoria residents. She has advocated for the addition of elevators to make our subway stations accessible to people with disabilities, parents with strollers, and elderly New Yorkers. Aravella believes that riders deserve a voice in the decisions that will affect them, which is why she recently introduced legislation to provide each borough with representation on the MTA board.

UNIONS​

Throughout her time in office, Aravella has been a strong ally to organized labor and supported unions fighting to secure fair wages and better working conditions. She has stood beside striking workers and supported bills to protect public sector unions, expand collective bargaining rights and combat wage inequality.

About Aravella

Aravella was first elected to the Assembly in 2010, winning the Democratic primary and becoming the first woman to ever hold the seat. Aravella has been a leader on a host of issues. She is naturally drawn to focus on issues that improve the lives of women and children. As Assemblywoman, Aravella has passed landmark legislation to strengthen protections for New Yorkers who experience sexual harassment or discrimination in the workplace. She was also successful in extending the time to bring civil and criminal cases for rape to give survivors sufficient time to process their trauma.

Aravella passed legislation making New York the first state in the nation to allow pregnant women to enroll in health insurance at any time so they can access vital prenatal care. She took on the powerful insurance industry so that New Yorkers experiencing infertility can access IVF, which has long been considered the gold standard of care for this heartbreaking condition.

About Aravella

Aravella was first elected to the Assembly in 2010, winning the Democratic primary and becoming the first woman to ever hold the seat. Aravella has been a leader on a host of issues. She is naturally drawn to focus on issues that improve the lives of women and children. As Assemblywoman, Aravella has passed landmark legislation to strengthen protections for New Yorkers who experience sexual harassment or discrimination in the workplace. She was also successful in extending the time to bring civil and criminal cases for rape to give survivors sufficient time to process their trauma.

Aravella passed legislation making New York the first state in the nation to allow pregnant women to enroll in health insurance at any time so they can access vital prenatal care. She took on the powerful insurance industry so that New Yorkers experiencing infertility can access IVF, which has long been considered the gold standard of care for this heartbreaking condition.

News

About Aravella

Aravella led reforms that established equal pay protections for public employees and assisted small business owners with understanding and complying with new regulatory requirements.

Aravella fought to pass the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act to give renters the strongest protections in the state’s history and hosted informative sessions to help tenants in Queens know their rights. She is committed to improving public education and secured $5 million in funding for improvements to local schools in 2019.

As Chair of the Assembly’s Task Force on Women’s Issues, Aravella is focused on expanding gender equality, protecting reproductive rights and supporting survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence.

About Aravella

Aravella led reforms that established equal pay protections for public employees and assisted small business owners with understanding and complying with new regulatory requirements.

Aravella fought to pass the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act to give renters the strongest protections in the state’s history and hosted informative sessions to help tenants in Queens know their rights. She is committed to improving public education and secured $5 million in funding for improvements to local schools in 2019.

As Chair of the Assembly’s Task Force on Women’s Issues, Aravella is focused on expanding gender equality, protecting reproductive rights and supporting survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence.

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Paid for by Friends of Aravella Simotas      © 2020

Paid for by Friends of Aravella      © 2020