May 16, 2016

Assembly Passes Legislative Package in Observance of
Annual Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day

Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie addressed individuals with disabilities and representatives of advocacy groups for the disabled in observance of the Assembly's annual Legislative Disability Awareness Day. In his remarks honoring the achievements of people with disabilities, Speaker Heastie cited the Assembly's legislative package aimed at improving the lives of persons with disabilities and the house's longstanding commitment to ensuring all New Yorkers have access to the resources and programs they need to be successful.
In celebration and observance of the annual Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Minority Leader Brian Kolb today announced the passage of a package of legislation that would improve the quality of life for New Yorkers with disabilities. Speaker Heastie and Assemblymember Kolb were also joined by Assemblymember David Weprin, Chair of the Task Force on People with Disabilities; Assemblymember Aileen Gunther, Chair of the Committee on Mental Health; and Assemblymember Steve Katz, Ranking Minority Member of the Assembly Committee on Mental Health.

"This day offers us the unique opportunity to both recognize the achievements of persons with disabilities and bring together a community of advocates and leaders," said Heastie. "Through this event, we in the Assembly are able to achieve what we consider to be the most important responsibility we have as members of the People's House - ensuring that all New Yorkers have access to the programs and resources they need to be successful. This legislative package demonstrates our continued commitment to improving the lives of every New Yorker."

"It is an honor to join my Assembly colleagues to co-host this annual event to celebrate the accomplishments of those living with disabilities and community advocates. The message is clear: having a disability is not a roadblock to one's hopes and dreams," said Kolb. "The Assembly Minority Conference and I remain dedicated to ensuring every individual is afforded the opportunity to succeed."

The Assembly's legislative package includes a measure that would waive the state's sovereign immunity with regard to application of the American 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.5388, Lifton).

Additional bills have been passed to ensure that people with disabilities are able to fully participate in elections, public hearings and meetings including measures that would:

"I am so proud to again co-sponsor Disabilities Awareness Day because it gives us the opportunity to both recognize New Yorkers with disabilities and their fellow advocates and also focus closely on the issues that are priorities to them," said Weprin. "When people with disabilities, advocates, service providers and legislators all unite in the common goal of making our state a more inclusive, integrated and accessible place to live, great things can happen for New York's disability community. I thank the Speaker, my colleagues and everyone in attendance today for their efforts in making New York a better place to live for people with disabilities."

"Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day is a tremendous opportunity to learn about the challenges people with disabilities face and their fortitude in overcoming them," said Gunther. "It is also an occasion to honor those who have distinguished themselves through their work and advocacy. Each year, we take this day to renew our commitment to ensuring people with disabilities live healthy, full lives."

"It is a great honor to be part of Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day. Each year this is an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of people with disabilities," said Steve Katz. "As legislators it's important we are aware of the struggles and achievements facing everyone in the community so we can craft legislation in a manner that serves you best."

The package also includes legislation that would offer New Yorkers with disabilities safer emergency evacuation plans and services and more accessible housing, including measures that would:

Additionally, a measure was passed earlier in the legislative session that requires every high-rise building owner to establish and maintain an emergency evacuation plan for disabled occupants and visitors. The bill also requires the owners of the buildings to maintain and update the emergency evacuation plan for persons with disabilities as necessary and ensure that the plan is readily available to emergency personnel (A.2200, Weprin).

The package also includes a measure that would establish the New York State Interagency Coordinating Council for Service-Disabled Veterans to identify the needs and services that service-disabled veterans require (A.4789-A, Ramos).

In the event that an individual applying for public assistance receives a diagnosis from a practitioner provided by the local social services district regarding possible work limitations differs from the applicant's practitioner, one bill would require that the social services appointed practitioner provide an explicit written determination and to present evidence supporting his or her diagnosis (A.3450, Wright).

Additionally, the legislative package includes a measure that would allow advanced home health aides to perform advanced tasks, including the administration of medications, under the direct supervision of a registered professional nurse (A.7188-A, Glick). This measure would offer individuals more affordable home care options and help them transition from institutional settings to a more comfortable and independent home setting.