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Know Your Rights
Source: Capital New York
Subject: Legal Services
Type: Media Coverage

De Blasio forges ahead on municipal IDs

The City Council has yet to pass a bill legalizing municipal identification cards, but that isn’t stopping the mayor from moving to enact the idea.

Last week Bill de Blasio’s contract officers issued notice that they soon plan to solicit bidders for the ID-card proposal, which he embraced on the campaign trail last year and referenced in both his State of the City speech in February and his 100-day address on April 10.

The action by the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services (MOCS) comes with no guarantee the Council will pass the legislation, which was introduced on the same day as de Blasio’s 100-day speech. It would entitle all New Yorkers, regardless of citizenship status, to ID cards to access basic city services, open bank accounts and lease apartments.

Although Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito supports it, only 15 members have signed on so far, or 11 shy of the majority needed for passage.

The Council scheduled its first hearing on the measure for April 30.

De Blasio spokeswoman Maibe Ponet said the notice is a preliminary, nonbonding step.

“We are just laying the ground work. That doesn’t mean that we will conduct the procurement, just making sure we can if we choose to,” she told Capital.

Still, it shows de Blasio’s confidence in getting another one of his priorities ushered through the Council. (The members lobbied in Albany for his universal pre-kindergarten expansion, passed out fliers to encourage pre-K registration and frequently hold town halls on his signature traffic-safety issue, “Vision Zero.”)

MOCS printed notice in the April 15 edition of the City Record for “project management & quality assurance services for the municipal ID application system.” The contract would last from July 1, 2014 through Feb. 28, 2015.

The mayor is also seeking a company to oversee “systems integration services” for the ID card system during the same time period.

The winning bidder for that contract would “ensure that software developed for municipal ID works seamlessly from application to card receipt,” Ponet said.

De Blasio is also seeking a company to print the cards—a contract that would last for more than six years, from Aug. 1, 2014 through Dec. 28, 2020.

Councilman Carlos Menchaca, the legislative body’s first Mexican-American, introduced the bill to a supportive rallying cry from advocacy groups that have long pushed for it, such as Make the Road New York and New York Communities for Change, groups that are closely aligned with both Mark-Viverito and de Blasio.

In his remarks earlier this month at Cooper Union’s Great Hall, the mayor briefly referenced the plan, which he said would cover the city’s nearly 500,000 undocumented immigrants.

“If you can’t sign a lease, if you can’t get a bank account, if you can’t do the basics, if you can’t even prove who you are, it doesn’t feel like you truly belong,” he said. “It doesn’t feel like you’re respected and embraced. But these half million New Yorkers are building this city alongside all of us every single day, and we will do better by them.”

De Blasio and Mark-Viverito disagree on the issue of allowing noncitizen voting, with he opposes and she has embraced.

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