Now that the 2015 legislative session is finally over, NYAIL would like to provide you with an update on all of the items on our Disability Priority Agenda. In addition, we are including a number of legislative items which NYAIL and our public policy committees worked on throughout the session which were not on our DPA.

First, we did have a few exciting successes this year.

  • Our Title II bill (A.136/S.1405) passed the Senate and Assembly!!
    • While the Assembly routinely passes this bill each year, it has not been brought to the floor of the Senate in a number of years. Kudos to the entire network on this one, but especially Frank Pennisi who worked closely with the bill’s sponsors and the Governor’s office to ensure this bill’s passage through both houses. We are anticipating that Governor Cuomo will sign this bill into law as his staff approved the language. NYAIL will continue to advocate to ensure its passage. With the 25th anniversary of the ADA this summer, it will be an excellent time for Governor Cuomo to sign this bill into law. We will keep you updated on this exciting development.
  • In addition, our Visitability tax credit bill (A.1276/S.2967A) passed both the Senate and Assembly this session as well!!
    • If signed into law, this bill will provide homeowners with a tax credit to make their homes visitable. NYAIL will continue to advocate for this bill to ensure it is signed into law by Governor Cuomo.
  • We also advocated for A.7598/S.5535, a bill which would delay the transition of the Nursing Home Transition and Diversion (NHTD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) waiver participants into Medicaid managed care and develop a work group to develop recommendations to help guide that transition.
    • Thanks to the hard work of advocates across the state, the Department of Health (DOH) announced last week that they have agreed to delay the transition of waiver participants on the TBI and NHTD waivers until January 1, 2017. In addition, DOH will form a stakeholder work group to go over all of the issues associated with the transition. DOH will convene this work group soon, with recommendations to be submitted by August 2016. DOH has also announced that they will maintain the current reimbursement that the NHTD and TBI Waiver providers currently receive in the fee-for-service system for two (2) years after transition. While this was not on our DPA, this is a bill which the network strongly supported and advocated to pass. It was this advocacy which lead DOH to delay this transition to 2017. Great work!
  • The network was also successful in opposing the extension of the use of lever machines in certain local elections.
    • S.5147 (Marchione) was introduced on May 5th. By May 27th, Senator Marchione withdrew the bill. The Election Reform committee was very active all session ensuring that the NYS legislature would not extend the use of lever machines. As nothing was passed this year, very much thanks to everyone’s advocacy, this law is going to sunset at the end of the year!
  • NYAIL also advocated for the New York achieving a better life experience (NY ABLE) savings account act. A.7767B (Gunther) and S.4472D (Carlucci).
    • The ABLE Act will allow qualified New Yorkers with disabilities and their families to create tax deferred savings accounts to cover disability related expenses. The main benefit of these accounts is these assets will not count against programs such as Medicaid and SSI. This bill passed both the Senate and Assembly this year! While this bill was not on our DPA, NYAIL and many of you did advocate for this bill to ensure it was the best version possible. There was a lot of momentum behind this bill in both houses, which suggest Cuomo will likely sign it into law. 

Here is an overview of how the rest of our priorities faired this session. Remember, this is the first of a two year session (2015-2016) so the bills will remain where they are for next year. This gives us an opportunity to build on our legislative advocacy without having to start from scratch next year.

  • Health
    • Authorize an exemption to the Nurse Practice Act to allow for advanced home health aides to perform certain advanced tasks under the supervision of a registered nurse. A.7188 (Glick) and S.5855 (Parker).
      • This bill passed the Assembly but did not pass the Senate this year. Senator LaValle, Chair of the Higher Education committee in the Senate was strongly opposed to this bill despite a comprehensive workgroup process and support from a broad cross section of impacted stakeholders. NYAIL will work with legislators and stakeholders prior to next session to ensure this crucial bill passes next session.
    • Assisted suicide legislationA2129 Rosenthal, S.3685 (Savino), as well as A5261B (Paulin) and S5814 (Bonacic).
      • These bills are all sitting in the Health committee and have not moved. While the lack of momentum is positive, it is concerning that so many bills have been introduced this year to allow assisted suicide in NYS. This summer is an opportunity for the disability community to begin educating our legislators on why we oppose assisted suicide. For resources to assist in this effort, please check out Not Dead Yet’s Toolkit at http://www.notdeadyet.org/disability-rights-toolkit-for-advocacy-against-legalization-of-assisted-suicide
  • Housing
    • Make discrimination by landlords based on a tenant’s source of income illegal under State Human Rights Law. A.3059 (Weprin).
      • This bill has no Senate sponsor and did not move out of governmental operations in the Assembly.
    • Incorporate inclusive home design/visitability features in new residential housing that receives financial assistance for construction from federal, state, county or local governments. A.6402 (Simon) and S.4597 (Krueger).
      • These bills are sitting in the judiciary committee in both the Senate and Assembly.
  • Civil Rights
    • Waive the State’s sovereign immunity to claims under the ADA and Section 504.  A5388 (Lifton)
      • This bill passed the Assembly on Disability Awareness Day. Unfortunately, it does not have a companion in the Senate.
  • Employment
    • Establish a small business tax credit for the employment of people with disabilities.  A5513 (Cusick) and S.4093 (Addabbo).
      • This bill is in Ways&Means in the Assembly and Investigations & Governmental Operations in the Senate. However, the Governor’s Employment First Commission did include a similar proposal in their report. They recommended making the Developmental Disability tax credit a cross disability tax credit.
    • Add disability-owned businesses to the Minority and Women Business Enterprise (MWBE) program.  A.2910 (Weprin) and S.2342 (Marcellino).
      • This bill is in Governmental Operations in the Assembly and Finance in the Senate. However, as with the small business tax credit bill, this recommendation was adopted by the Governor’s Employment First Commission. NYAIL will continue to monitor the administration’s progress on the recommendations of the Employment First Commission to ensure these recommendations are enacted.
  • Transportation
    • Cap fares for paratransit at levels no higher than the base fares for transportation of non-disabled adults using the public transit system. S3720 (Espaillat).
      • This bill is in the Transportation committee in the Senate and has no companion in the Assembly.
    • Require transportation service providers, such as taxis and limousines, to purchase accessible vehicles. A.4211 (Titus).
      • This bill is in the Transportation in the Assembly with no companion in the Senate.
    • Establish a visor communication card for individuals who are deaf and hard-of-hearing. A.7387 (Zebrowski).
      • This bill is in Codes in the Assembly. There is currently no companion in the Senate.
  • Inclusive Education
    • Provides for state grant funding to municipalities for early intervention services for toddlers with disabilities and their families. A.273 (Paulin) and S.4372 (Carlucci).
      • This bill is in Ways & Means in the Assembly and in the Health committee in the Senate.

Report prepared by Meghan Schoeffling, NYAIL's Policy Analyst