Assemblymember Phil Steck (D-Colonie) announced that he helped pass a legislative package protecting the rights of New Yorkers with disabilities. The legislation was passed in recognition of Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day, May 22.
By establishing better policies and helping New Yorkers with disabilities access information and resources, we can do more to protect their rights, improve their quality of life and ensure they have an equal chance at opportunity and success, said Steck.
The Assembly package includes a number of bills to protect individuals with disabilities from discrimination. One measure ensures all New York State employees are protected under 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 and restores their right to sue the state for damages if those laws are violated (A.2546). The Assembly also passed a bill to make Braille and large-print ballots available for blind and visually impaired individuals (A.4961-B).
Additionally, measures were passed to increase safety and prevent housing discrimination. One bill clarifies the use of service animals as reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities in regard to housing and another requires high-rise building owners to maintain an emergency evacuation plan specifically for occupants with disabilities (A.7283, A.6287). The Assembly also passed a bill requiring counties with local emergency management plans to maintain a voluntary, confidential list of people with disabilities in order to provide additional assistance and support in the case of a disaster or evacuation (A.6865).
Further, in an effort to help people living with disabilities access the care they need, the Assembly passed bills that:
Allow non-elderly individuals with disabilities to create Medicaid Supplemental Needs Trusts without filing a petition with the court (A.6743);
Provide tax credits for homeowners who make their homes more accessible for people with disabilities (A.5333, A.5950-A);
Require the state Department of Health to notify qualifying individuals of the excess income trust program that allows Medicaid recipients to receive public benefits and maintain a fund for living expenses and medical care (A.5175-A); and
Establish the New York State Interagency Coordinating Council for Service-Disabled Veterans to address their specific challenges (A.5931).
A disability should never define someone, and by addressing the challenges that people living with disabilities face, we can help ensure that they are safe, independent and treated with equality and respect, said Steck.