Speaker Carl Heastie, Minority Leader William Barclay today announced the Assembly will commemorate May 24, 2021 as the annual Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day (K.324, Abinanti). In honor of Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day, the Assembly will pass a package of bills aimed at improving the lives of New Yorkers with disabilities.
“The Assembly is committed to promoting access and inclusion so that everyone in our communities has opportunities to thrive,” said Speaker Heastie. “Every year on Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day we recognize the unique challenges faced by individuals with disabilities and search for meaningful ways to improve their lives. Today’s legislative package includes bills that ensure all New Yorkers have access to critical services and supports they need to be successful.”
“Today in Albany, we will be commemorating Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day,” said Assembly Minority Leader Barclay. “Under normal circumstances, we would be gathered together while raising awareness and celebrating the accomplishments of those within the disability community. Unfortunately, due continued COVID precautions, this is not possible. However, later today the Assembly will pass a package of bills that will help to alleviate some of the very unique challenges facing the disability community and further protect this vulnerable population during a pandemic. The Assembly Minority Conference will continue to be steadfast in its support for the disability community, their advocates and caregivers. I have hope that we will be back together in person for this event in 2022.”
“On Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day we stand with New Yorkers with disabilities and recognize their accomplishments and the unique issues they face,” said Assemblymember Tom Abinanti, chair of the Committee on People with Disabilities. “Today’s legislation will help ensure that people with disabilities have access to resources they rely on so that they can lead full and heathy lives.”
“Both my late daughter Melanie and my son Oliver have disabilities, so this day holds a special place in my heart,” said Assemblymember Missy Miller, ranking minority member of the Committee on People with Disabilities. “While the days for our loved ones with disabilities aren’t always easy, they continue to be a beacon of light for us. They show us truly how tough they are— regardless of what life throws at them. They are resilient, patient and teach us everyday how to live the best life. It’s a privilege to be an outspoken voice for our loved ones with disabilities in the Assembly.”
Today’s legislative package includes a measure to establish the Office of Advocate for People with Disabilities (A.3130, Steck). The office would serve to advocate on behalf of people with disabilities and ensure that they can exercise all of the rights and responsibilities accorded to all citizens of New York State.
Also included is a bill that would waive the state’s sovereign immunity with regard to application of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, and the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 as they apply to the protection of state employees (A.7121, Kelles).
Additionally, there is legislation that would require public officers and bodies to provide qualified interpreters and assistive listening devices for deaf and hearing impaired individuals upon written request at public meetings and hearings at no charge (A.3924, Dickens).
Another measure would establish the Office of the Independent Intellectual and Developmental Disability Ombudsman Program to assist individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities to ensure that they receive coverage from managed care organizations and have access to services that meet their individual needs (A.1153-A, Buttenschon).
A bill to pass today would reestablish the care demonstration programs under the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD). These care demonstration programs ensure that community based services continue to be offered to individuals with a developmental disability through March 31, 2024 (A.5364, Gunther).
The package also includes legislation that would require the Developmental Disability Advisory Council be comprised of eight members appointed by the temporary president of the Senate, eight members be appointed by the speaker of the Assembly, one member appointed by the minority leader of the Senate, one member appointed by the minority leader of the Assembly and 15 members appointed by the governor (A.7358A, Abinanti).
People with disabilities often face challenges preventing them from entering the workforce, including the false assumption that they will not be able to complete a job as well as another person. A bill in today’s package would establish a small business tax credit for the employment of people with disabilities to encourage the employment of capable individuals who are often overlooked (A.3960, Cusick).
Legislation to pass today would ensure that if an individual with work limitations, disabilities or health issues is applying for public assistance, the opinions and determinations of their treating health care practitioner should be given sufficient weight. If they receive a diagnosis from a practitioner provided by the local social services district that is inconsistent from their treating health care practitioner, the individual’s treating health care practitioner’s opinion would generally be controlling, subject to certain factors. (A.3149, Hevesi).
Another measure included today would create a tax credit for new or retrofitted principal residences which are universally designed to be accessible and adaptable housing (A.3409, Lavine). Universal designs make residences accessible and user friendly for senior citizens and people with limited mobility. Providing these individuals with the opportunity to age in place could save costs associated with assisted living or nursing homes and would assist in building an inventory of residences to ensure accessibility.