from the New York State Assembly
Task Force on
People with

Amy Paulin, Chair • Sheldon Silver, Speaker

Assemblywoman Amy Paulin



NYS Assembly
Task Force on People with Disabilities


Legislative Disability Awareness Day 2006

Measure Putting ADA Protections into State Law Vetoed by Governor

Other Disability Legislation

Report Issued on Delays in Funding of Durable Medical Equipment

2006 LDAD Photos

A Message from the Chair...

August 2006

Dear Friend,

As Chair of the Assembly’s Task Force on People with Disabilities, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the many advocates within New York’s disability community who played a role in a very productive, yet sometimes frustrating, Legislative session. This year we have had great success in securing Senate sponsorship for a number of our critically-important bills, and I am thrilled to announce that four of them have been signed into law. Unfortunately, however, two bills under our watch, one which would have reinforced Title III of the ADA in state law, and one which would have established an Interagency Council for Services to Persons who are Deaf, Deaf-Blind or Hard of Hearing, were vetoed by the Governor. Please check below to read more about the various legislative priorities that the Task Force worked on this year, including the measures that were both signed and vetoed.

As depicted in the next pages of this newsletter, addressing the housing crisis for people with disabilities, protecting the Americans with Disabilities Act in New York State and improving New York’s election system are only a few of the priorities that we tackled over the last few months. And rest assured that we are still committed to our goals of extending the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) plan to people with disabilities, creating a housing trust fund to help alleviate the shortage of affordable and accessible housing and increasing the number of taxis usable to the disability community in our state. We are currently working with advocates who specialize on these issues to develop productive strategies and, where needed, draft the most realistic and effective legislation possible.

You can count on me to continue the work that we have all been pursuing as we head into next year’s session. In order to help me and my staff craft our legislative agenda for 2007, please submit your priorities as soon as possible. And as always, if you have any questions, comments or concerns, please call my Task Force office at 518-455-4592.

Amy Paulin, Chair
New York State Assembly
Task Force on People with Disabilities

Assemblymember Amy Paulin addresses the crowd gathered for the Assembly Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day on May 17, 2006.

Legislative Disability Awareness Day

The New York State Assembly Task Force on People with Disabilities and the Committee on Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities co-sponsored the annual Legislative Disability Awareness Day (LDAD) on May 17, 2006 in Albany. At this event, Rob Davies, CEO of Disability Access 4 Me, was presented with the annual “Dr. Henry Viscardi, Jr. Advocacy Award,” which was created last year to honor individuals in the name of this legendary activist and supporter of disability rights.

Over 50 organizations that serve the disability community displayed exhibits to provide information and demonstrate the services and opportunities that are available to people with disabilities.

In addition, four seminars on issues of interest to people with disabilities were also held. The seminars were held on: “Navigating the Medicare Part D Benefit and Wrap-around Coverage,” “Housing for People with Disabilities,” “The Criminal Justice System’s Interaction with People with Mental Health Issues” and “Implementing Election Reform in our Local Communities.”

2006 LDAD Legislation Agenda

As part of LDAD tradition, the Assembly passed a package of legislation aimed at making the lives of people with disabilities easier. This year’s legislative package included:

  • A.1852 (Koon) – Provides that ballots for all elections shall be available in Braille, upon request of a blind or visually impaired voter.

  • A.2159 (Lifton) – Waives the state’s sovereign immunity to liability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, restoring the rights of state employees to sue the State of New York for damages due to violations of the ADA.

  • A.5737 (Cahill) – Requires shopping centers or shopping facilities that have at least three separate retail stores and at least 20 off-street parking spaces to provide handicapped parking spaces of a minimum of five percent of such parking spaces or ten spaces, whichever is less.

  • A.6328 (Cahill)/S.3921 (Spano) – Clarifies the scope of protections against discrimination on the basis of disability under the New York State Human Rights Law in the area of government services, consistent with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and the current policies and practices of the Division of Human Rights.

  • A.7294 (Paulin)/S.5074 (Spano) – Clarifies the scope of protections against discrimination on the basis of disability under the New York State Human Rights Law in the area of public accommodations, consistent with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and the current policies and practices of the Division of Human Rights. (vetoed by Governor)

  • A.7337 (Paulin)/S.4873 (Morahan) – Requires access aisles of handicapped accessible parking places to be at least eight feet wide to ensure that they are wide enough for people with disabilities to enter and exit their vehicles.

  • A.7338 (Paulin)/S.4871 (Morahan) – Requires access aisles of handicapped parking spaces to be marked with a sign and diagonal stripes to further prevent people from parking in such spaces.

  • A.7339 (Paulin)/S.4796 (Flanagan) – Provides that polling places, whenever practicable, to be designated directly on a public transportation route.

  • A.7867 (Paulin)/S.4933 (Morahan) – Provides that programs or activities relating to housing which receives federal financial assistance shall comply with the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

  • A.7868 (Paulin)/S.4875 (Morahan) – Authorizes the Commissioner of the Division of Housing and Community Renewal to maintain a housing registry of accessible or adaptable housing for the disabled called “Access-New York,” which requires certain owners to provide specific information in relation to “Access-New York” and establishes a special advisory panel to assist the Commissioner in performance of duties associated with “Access-New York.”

  • A.8697 (Paulin)/S.5734 (Morahan) – Increases income eligibility for real property tax exemption on property owned by one or more persons with disabilities over the next four years. (signed into law by Governor)

  • A.9234 (Morelle)/S.1899 (Robach) – Creates a New York State interagency council for services to persons who are deaf, deaf-blind or hard of hearing to promote a comprehensive service system for this population. (vetoed by Governor)

  • A.9981 (Paulin) – Requires the Department of Health to promulgate rules and regulations concerning hard of hearing patients and others.

Public Accommodations Bill Passes Both Assembly and Senate, Vetoed by Governor

Unfortunately, a bill passed by both the Assembly and Senate (A.7294/S.5074) to secure protections currently offered under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in state law was vetoed by the Governor. This action has strongly disappointed much of New York’s disability community.

The ADA, signed into law in 1990, was hailed as a great victory in the movement to protect and enforce civil rights for people with disabilities. . .and it was. However, since its inception, the ADA has been virtually ignored by many of the entities that it targets. Specifically, many areas of public accommodation have still not come into compliance with the ADA’s requirements, leaving people with disabilities literally out in the cold. In addition, the scope of the ADA has been under scrutiny for quite some time through recent U.S. Supreme Court cases.

Some of the recent legal attacks may have weakened the ADA, yet protections against disability discrimination need to be increased, not decreased. While states have no jurisdiction over federal acts, it has become a mission of the disability community to require that the rights and responsibilities enunciated in the ADA become enforceable state protections and obligations as well.

Because the federal government has not devoted many resources toward ADA enforcement, providing state enforcement mechanisms through the Human Rights Law is essential to ensure that public accommodations become and remain accessible and available to people with disabilities in New York State. We are dismayed that the Governor cannot see the importance of this measure, but will maintain our commitment to this issue when a new administration arrives in January.

Additional LDAD and Other Important
Disability Legislation

  • A.10005 (Paulin)/S.7210 (Balboni) – Extends the motorized wheelchair warranty requirement to all wheelchairs to enact consumer protections for persons who purchase wheelchairs. Protections include warranties, replacement of defective equipment and quality standards. (signed into law by Governor)

  • A.10361 (Paulin)/S.7462 (Balboni) – Establishes emergency evacuation plan requirements for individuals with disabilities within high-rise buildings and establishes a $500 fine for failure to comply.

  • A.10563 (Paulin)/S.7815 (Spano) – Allows specified drivers with severe disabilities to park for free at parking meters if certain conditions are met.

  • A.10726 (Paulin) – Authorizes savings from the Nursing Home Transition and Diversion waiver program to be reinvested in housing subsidies for certain participants.

  • A.10766 (Paulin)/S.7663 (Morahan) – Increases income eligibility for real property tax exemption on property owned by one or more persons with disabilities for 2006. (signed into law by Governor)

The majority of legislation related to disabilities passed the Assembly in honor of Legislative Disability Awareness Day. Other measures of importance to people with disabilities that passed this session include:

  • A.120 (Cahill) – Requires each polling place to be accessible to voters with physical disabilities and provides guidelines which shall be in accordance with the accessibility requirements mandated pursuant to the federal ADA, as amended.

  • A.2821 (DiNapoli) – Requires rental car companies with fleets of 100 or more cars to offer portable, temporarily-installed hand controls or other mechanical devices for people with disabilities, and to make them available on cars in all price and/or size categories.

  • A.4082 (Weisenberg) – Requires ATMs to use both audio and visual systems of relaying messages to its customers, thus providing equal access for all individuals.

  • A.11170 (Paulin)/S.7404 (Morahan) – Requires that persons with a valid parking permit for handicapped persons be entitled to the same service at gasoline stations as persons with a valid license plate for handicapped persons.

  • A.11559 (Paulin)/S.7657 (Flanagan) – Requires public officers and bodies to provide interpreters for the hearing impaired at public hearings under certain conditions.

  • A.11560 (Paulin)/S.7782 (Flanagan) – Provides a tax credit for taxi and livery companies which modify their vehicles to provide accessible transportation for people with physical disabilities. (signed into law by Governor)

Assembly Chairs Issue Report on Delays in Funding of Durable Medical Equipment for People with Severe Disabilities

After two public hearings on delays in funding of durable medical equipment for people with severe disabilities, one held in July of 2005 and one held in November of 2005, the Assembly Committee on Health, the Committee on Oversight, Analysis and Investigation and the Task Force on People with Disabilities have issued a report entitled “Delaying Necessities, Denying Needs - An Assembly Investigation of New York State’s Handling of Medicaid Durable Equipment Claims.”

The results of these two public hearings were both very enlightening and disturbing. Several testimonies described how the New York State Department of Health (DOH) has violated many of its guiding regulations. It was also determined that DOH should have clear guidelines so that applicants know what information to provide when requesting funding; but it does not.

The Department of Health’s job is to approve specific funding requests if ordered by an approved provider and are proven to be medically necessary and appropriate. Only a DOH health care professional within the same medical profession should be allowed to deny or modify a treating practitioner’s order or prescription. However, these hearings revealed that DOH reviewers (generally nurses and physical therapists) often deny medically necessary items ordered by physicians, and regularly change requested items to less expensive, inappropriate items that are ill-suited for the patient. Furthermore, it was discovered that DOH is supposed to issue determinations within 21 days, but despite having installed a new, costly computer system, it is not capable of monitoring this and, in fact, it seems the department is engaging in deliberate measures to stop the clock.

To read all of the findings that were discovered at these two hearings and to look at the Assembly’s recommendations, view the entire report, click here.

2006 LDAD Photos

Rob Davies, CEO of Disability Access 4 Me, accepts the annual Legislative Disability Awareness Day “Dr. Henry Viscardi, Jr. Advocacy Award” from Assemblywoman Paulin.

Assemblywoman Paulin visits with Sue Cohen, from the New York State Independent Living Council, at the LDAD Exhibitor Fair.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver acknowledges one of LDAD’s youngest participants, Ryan Longacker, grandson of Viscardi Advocacy Award recipient Rob Davies.

For More Information Contact...
New York State Assembly Task Force on People with Disabilities
Kimberly T. Hill, Director
Agency Building 4, 13th Floor, Albany, New York 12248
Phone: (518) 455-4592 • Fax: (518) 455-7099

New York State Assembly
[ Welcome Page ] [ Task Force Updates ]