Supporters of the horse carriage industry found an ally in Brooklyn Councilman Rafael Espinal on Wednesday.
The freshman City Council member and former state assemblyman stood in front of City Hall's steps surrounded union leaders and carriage drivers in top hats to defend the industry from criticism lobbed by animal rights activist and prominent elected leaders, most notably Mayor Bill de Blasio.
"For over 150 years the horse carriage industry has grown to employ 300 drivers, blacksmiths and stable workers," Espinal said, and that losing those jobs to a ban "is not something I can answer for."
Espinal heads the Council's Consumer Affairs committee, through which many observers expected the bill to pass through before going to a vote given it typically handles similar industry oversight laws. Whether that is still the case remains unclear.
At an unrelated press event, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito — who supports the ban — told reporters that the bill still needs to be introduced.
"Once the bill is introduced we will discuss in terms of what committee it falls under, she said.
A ban on horse carriages was one of de Blasio's earliest campaign promises during the mayoral election last year, and he previously vowed to prioritize action for his first year in office.
Since then, de Blasio said a ban would be more appropriately passed through the City Council, which has yet to introduce legislation reportedly being drafted by Queens Councilman Danny Dromm.
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