|SAME AS||SAME AS S04548|
|COSPNSR||Simon, Pheffer Amato, Thiele, Hevesi, Darling, Stern, Anderson, Shimsky, Mamdani, Reyes, Stirpe, Kelles, Lunsford|
|Add 131-ss, Soc Serv L|
|Provides for the automated identification of affordability program participants to enable such participants to be automatically entered into utility corporation energy affordability programs.|
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NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY
MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION
submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
BILL NUMBER: A4876 SPONSOR: Solages
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the social services law, in relation to providing for the automated identification of affordability program participants   PURPOSE: For the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) to coordi- nate with utility companies on automated file matching to identify eligible affordability program participants.   SUMMARY: Section 1. Amends the social services law by adding a new section 131-ss. Section 2. Sets the effective date.   JUSTIFICATION: New York's utilities offer Energy Affordability Programs (EAPs) that follow guidance from the New York Public Service Commission which requires utilities to set low-income program discount levels that keep customer energy burden at or below a target goal of 6% of household income. EAPs offer customers a monthly bill credit using a tiered discount structure that considers whether the customer is a heating or a non-heating customer. Utility customers who receive Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) grants paid to the utility on the customer's behalf are automatically enrolled in the utility corporation's Energy Affordability Programs (EAP). However, not all low-income customers receive HEAP even if they qualify to receive it. The New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA) conducts a file matching process to capture customers who partic- ipate in other qualifying programs, including: *Public Assistance *Supplemental Security Income *Medicaid *Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) *Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program *Veterans' Disability Program *Veterans' Surviving Spouse Pension *Child Health Plus The inclusion of these programs and the corresponding file-matching process dramatically increases participation in EAP programs. Outside of New York City, customers are largely responsible for self-identifying for being eligible for the program - limiting the number of those who benefit. An automated process is also more efficient and less costly to administer than identifying customers on a case-by-case manner. Making file matching a statewide practice is a more efficient utilization of state and utility resources. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating financial impact on New Yorkers, especially those who were already struggling to make ends meet. AARP recently estimated that 1.2 million New York households are in energy utility arrears, totaling more than $1.7 billion  1. It is essen- tial that utility customers throughout the state are connected to any and all assistance programs for which they are eligible. This legis- lation would require OTDA to coordinate with utilities to automate that process in a manner similar to the HRA process in New York City. This will help ensure that more low-income New Yorkers are receiving the assistance to which they are entitled.   RACIAL JUSTICE IMPACT: People of color and low-income New Yorkers are disproportionately impacted by rising utility costs. Specifically, redlining and housing discrimination has resulted in Black and Latino households paying more in utilities than their White counterparts. Several studies have shown that low-quality housing stock due to racial segregation is a major driving factor of this disparity  2. This bill will create a program to automatically match New Yorkers who receive certain public benefits with Energy Affordability Programs.   GENDER JUSTICE IMPACT: TBD.   LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2022: A9099; passed in the Assembly.   FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: TBD.   EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately.   1 AARP. "AARP and PULP: Governor Hochul Must Address Utility Arrears Crisis in Budget Amendment."   HTTPS://STATES.AARP.ORG/NEW-VORK/ AARO-PULB-HOCHUL-MUST-ADDRESS-UTILITY-ARREARS-CRISIS.   2 Constantine Kontokosta, Vincent Reina, Bartozs Bonczak, "Energy Cost Burdens for Low-Income and Minority Households: Evidence From Energy Benchmarking and Audit Data in Five U.S. Cities," Journal of the Ameri- can Planning Association 86 no. 1, (Sept. 2019): 89-105,   HTTPS://DOI.ORG/10.1080/01944363.2019.1647446; Brentin Mock, "Neigh- borhoods With More People of Color Pay Higher Energy Bills," Bloomberg, November 25, 2019,   HTTPS ://WWW,BLOOMBERG.COM/NEWS/ARTICLES/2019-11-25/ WHY-WHITE-HOUSEHOLDS-PAY- LESS-FOR-UTI1ITIES.ct.
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STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 4876 2023-2024 Regular Sessions IN ASSEMBLY February 24, 2023 ___________ Introduced by M. of A. SOLAGES, SIMON, PHEFFER AMATO -- read once and referred to the Committee on Social Services AN ACT to amend the social services law, in relation to providing for the automated identification of affordability program participants The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem- bly, do enact as follows: 1 Section 1. The social services law is amended by adding a new section 2 131-ss to read as follows: 3 § 131-ss. Automated identification of affordability program partic- 4 ipants. 1. Definitions. For the purposes of this section, the following 5 terms shall have the following meanings: 6 (a) "Commissioner" shall mean the commissioner of the office of tempo- 7 rary and disability assistance. 8 (b) "Affordability program participant" shall mean a household that is 9 determined to be eligible by the appropriate agency for any of the 10 following programs: 11 (i) Public assistance; 12 (ii) Supplemental security income; 13 (iii) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); 14 (iv) Low income home energy assistance program; 15 (v) Veteran's disability pension; 16 (vi) Veteran's surviving spouse pension; 17 (vii) Child health plus; 18 (viii) Lifeline; and 19 (ix) Any other income-based assistance program identified by the 20 public service commission in consultation with the office. 21 (c) "Office" shall mean the office of temporary disability assistance. 22 (d) "Utility corporation" shall mean a corporation regulated pursuant 23 to article two of the public service law. 24 (e) "Utility corporation energy affordability programs" shall be 25 defined by the public service commission and shall include programs EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD01630-01-3A. 4876 2 1 which are intended to assist customers with energy affordability by 2 reducing customers' energy burden. 3 2. Within one hundred eighty days of the effective date of this 4 section, the commissioner shall establish a statewide program to provide 5 for automated identification of eligible affordability program partic- 6 ipants for participation in utility corporation energy affordability 7 programs. 8 3. The office shall engage with utility corporations to establish 9 automated file matching mechanisms that will provide, via electronic 10 means, to utility corporations a list of eligible affordability program 11 participants within the utility corporation's service territory. 12 4. The office shall conduct automated file matching to identify utili- 13 ty corporation customer accounts that are also affordability program 14 participants and such information shall be provided to utility corpo- 15 rations no less than semi-annually. Utility corporation customer 16 accounts identified by the office as eligible for participation in 17 available utility corporation energy affordability programs as a result 18 of such file matching shall be enrolled in such programs within sixty 19 days of receipt of the office communicating the results of the automated 20 file matching to the utility corporation. Any information provided to 21 the utility corporations related to affordability program participants 22 pursuant to this section shall be redacted as necessary to protect any 23 information that is protected under any state or federal privacy laws, 24 kept confidential, and shall only be utilized for the purpose of 25 confirming eligibility in the utility corporation energy affordability 26 program. 27 5. The commissioner may adopt, on an emergency basis pursuant to arti- 28 cle two of the state administrative procedure act, any rules necessary 29 to carry out the provisions of this article. 30 6. The commissioner may delegate the administration of any portion of 31 this program to any state agency, city, county, town, contractor or 32 non-profit organization in accordance with the provisions of this arti- 33 cle and applicable federal requirements. Provided however, such privacy 34 and confidentiality limitations prescribed in subdivision four of this 35 section shall apply to any entity that the commissioner delegates the 36 administration of the program to. 37 § 2. This act shall take effect immediately.