NYS Seal For Immediate Release:
May 10, 2006


Assembly Introduces Bipartisan Legislation To Provide World Trade Center Accidental Death Benefits For September 11 Responders

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Ways and Means Committee Chair Herman D. "Denny" Farrell, Jr., Governmental Employees Committee Chair Peter Abbate, Labor Committee Chair Susan John and Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco today announced the introduction of legislation aimed at providing accidental death benefits for municipal employees who, as responders at the World Trade Center, were exposed to toxic substances in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001.

The lawmakers said A.11255 was prompted by media reports of the death of Detective James Zadroga who died of a respiratory disease contracted during rescue and recovery operations at the World Trade Center site. According to the lawmakers, the legislation would rectify an inequity in current law which does not apply accidental death benefits for responders like Detective Zadroga, whose death resulted from a disease incurred in the performance of duty at the World Trade Center.

"Nearly five years after the September Eleventh attacks, doctors still cannot ascertain the long-term impact of prolonged exposure to the Ground Zero site and to the debris from that site.

This legislation seeks to correct an injustice that has led to the brave men and women facing a grim prognosis worrying about the financial security of their dependents or loved ones.

"We as lawmakers are charged with providing for the safety and security of all New Yorkers, just as those who responded to the call for help at the WTC selflessly worked for the safety and health of others," said Farrell (D-Manhattan), a sponsor of the legislation. "By passing this bill to provide these benefits, we'll be holding up our end of that deal."

"Hopefully this bill will continue the work started with the original 9/11 presumption bill and bring some help and comfort to the families whose loved ones have made the ultimate sacrifice," said Abbate (D-Brooklyn).

"This legislation will ensure that as a state we are keeping our commitment to the responders to one of the worst attacks on our nation," said John. "The men and women who responded to the tragic events of September 11, 2001, risked their health and now find that they may have risked their lives in the service of our country. Many of these workers are now suffering from life threatening illnesses; we need to protect the financial future and security of their loved ones."

"Detective Zadroga was a true Ground Zero hero who, without hesitation, rushed to the defense of his nation on September 11, 2001, and as a result, he paid the ultimate sacrifice," said Tedisco (R,C,I-Schenectady-Saratoga). "Sadly, his 4-year old daughter is only entitled to a partial pension because her father's death was not considered to be 'in the line of duty.' The brave police officers, firefighters and other uniformed personnel who risked their lives to protect us on that fateful day deserve to know that New York State will stand with them and their families just as they stood up for us. It is imperative that this bill be passed by the full Legislature immediately."

Under the Assembly proposal, an accidental death benefit would be provided for qualified members of police, fire, EMT, sanitation, corrections, sheriff deputies, state troopers and other uniformed personnel who participated between September 11, 2001 and September 12, 2002 in rescue, recovery, clean-up and related activity at or near ground zero, worked at the Fresh Kills Land Fill, worked at the New York morgue or the temporary morgue on pier locations on the west side of Manhattan, or manned barges between the west side of Manhattan and the Fresh Kills Land Fill.

Silver said the legislation builds upon measures enacted last year by the Legislature aimed at protecting World Trade Center responders by making it easier for them to secure accidental disability benefits for certain illnesses.