News from the
NYS Assembly Committee on

Sheldon Silver, Speaker • Peter J. Abbate Jr., Chairman • Fall 2005
Assemblyman Peter J. Abbate, Jr.
Message from the Chairman

Since becoming chair of the NYS Assembly Committee on Governmental Employees in February of 2002, the passage of the World Trade Center Presumption Disability legislation has been a top priority of mine and the Governmental Employees Committee. In the four years since the horrific attacks on the World Trade Center we have realized that the effects of that day are ongoing. Many of the men and women who responded during our City, State and Country’s darkest hours are experiencing serious health problems directly related to the rescue, recovery and clean-up efforts. This law ensures that they will be protected for their efforts during such service.

Not only were the workers who participated in the rescue, recovery and clean-up efforts affected by this attack – our state economy was affected and members of our State’s National Guard and other members of our armed services have been called to action. Outlined in this newsletter is the plan to rebuild Lower Manhattan and the Patriot Plan III. For the many workers who will be helping rebuild Lower Manhattan and who work on other public works jobs, legislation has been passed to ensure that they are paid the prevailing wage. Additionally, working families will find it easier to meet family obligations under the “Families in the Workplace Act.”

I look forward to building on these achievements and tackling other important issues so that New York becomes a better and stronger state to live, work and raise a family. I would like to thank all the committee members and staff for their dedication and attention to the needs of our State’s public employees. Additionally, I must thank the public employee unions, their representatives and the many government officials whose input on legislation was and is invaluable.

photo Committee Chairman Peter Abbate presides over a meeting of the Governmental Employees Committee.

If you have any questions or concerns about the issues or legislation before the committee, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Peter J. Abbate, Jr.

World Trade Center Presumption Disability
Signed into Law
Provides public employees with greater access to disability benefits

A new law was signed to provide that any active member or retiree (who retired after 9/11/01) who participated in the World Trade Center rescue, recovery or clean-up efforts may be able to qualify (even if retired) to collect a disability benefit under one of several existing disability laws. Depending upon your job title, you may qualify for an ordinary disability, accidental disability or line of duty disability benefit.

To be eligible for this presumption, you must:

  • Have participated in the World Trade Center rescue, recovery or clean-up operation for a minimum of 40 hours between September 11, 2001 and September 12, 2002. (If you suffered a documented physical injury at the site on September 11 or September 12, 2001, preventing you from continuing to participate in the rescue, recovery or clean-up efforts, the 40-hour requirement may be waived.)

Participation in rescue, recovery or clean-up efforts include work at:

  • The World Trade Center site;
  • The New York City morgue or any temporary morgues;
  • The Fresh Kills Landfill; or
  • On the barges that ran between Manhattan and the Fresh Kills Landfill.
  • Have taken and passed a physical examination upon entry into public service which did not show evidence of the current health impairment of qualifying condition.

  • Be found permanently incapacitated by the retirement system of which you are a member due to a qualifying health impairment and be unable to perform your job.

  • File a notice of your participation in the rescue, recovery or clean-up with your retirement system by June 14, 2007, even if you are not filing for a disability at the present time.

Supporting troops and their families
Protecting soldiers’ families at home

The newest protections signed into law to help soldiers and their families include:

  • Eligible public employees who give their life while on active duty in the Armed Forces will receive the same death benefits - and their survivors would receive the same health insurance benefits – that they would be entitled through the individual’s public employment.

  • Survivor’s life insurance premium payments will be reimbursed up to $400,000 for members of the New York State organized militia during non-training active service.

Rebuilding Lower Manhattan = more jobs, long-term economic growth

Before session ended, the Legislature reached a major legislative agreement with the governor and the mayor to finally move forward on rebuilding lower Manhattan following the devastation of September 11, 2001.

The “Marshall Plan” for Lower Manhattan calls for:

  • Initiatives to promote commercial tenants in Lower Manhattan;

  • A permanent elimination of the Commercial Rent Tax (CRT) for all ground zero tenants and a five-year exemption of CRT for all of Lower Manhattan;

  • Modification of the Relocation and Employment Assistance Program (REAP); and

  • Tax exemptions for office furniture and equipment, and build-out costs for businesses leasing space at the World Trade Center site.

In another agreement reached to rebuild Lower Manhattan, many jobs will be created as the Church Street corridor will be constructed and the planning of a rail link connecting Lower Manhattan to JFK Airport and the Long Island Rail Road will be started.

This agreement will promote faster economic growth and revitalize Lower Manhattan. These initiatives are important steps toward reinvigorating the Lower Manhattan economy and restoring downtown as the third largest business district in the country and its place as the financial capital of the world.

Health and safety for labor workers

The Assembly and Senate came together to pass bills that help improve the health and safety of labor workers while on the job. Legislation was passed that required written notification to workers on public works jobs of the prevailing wage rates that they are entitled to receive for their particular job classification.

Additionally, both houses also passed a bill that requires the disclosure of taxpayer payments to people working on a public project receiving government funds. This ensures the payment of the prevailing wage to persons employed on these projects.

Helping you meet your family obligations

Managing work and home is a part of everyday living. To help, Assembyman Abbate sponsored the “Families in the Workplace Act” which passed the Assembly and allows employees time off to help handle family responsibilities. The bill will permit limited unpaid leave for:

  • Family and medical issues;

  • School visits, permitting employees to attend school conferences or meeting with teachers or administrators at their child’s school;

  • Family emergency and necessary medical care, allowing all employees to provide care to immediate family or household members in medical situations; and

  • Bereavement leave, for the death of an immediate family or household member.

Employees who qualify for leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act may also be eligible for paid disability leave.

photo Assemblyman Abbate addresses many of the state employees who may benefit from the signing of the World Trade Center Presumption Law.

NYS Assembly Committee on Governmental Employees
Room 839 LOB • Albany, New York 12248 • 518-455-3053

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