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Governor Hochul signs package of legislation to help persons with disabilities

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Governor Kathy Hochul signed a package of legislation to help individuals with disabilities in New York. Legislation S.1035-A/A.4685 allows individuals with disabilities to have an essential support person accompany them while they are hospitalized. Legislation S.6293/A.7358 changes who appoints members to the developmental disabilities advisory council.

Legislation S.6294-A/A.7381 requires the developmental disabilities advisory council to evaluate New York State’s response to the COVID-19 state disaster emergency for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Legislation S.6276/A.7223 requires the president of the Civil Service Commission to conduct a study on the employment of persons and veterans with disabilities by the state.

“People with disabilities are a crucial part of our New York family and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect” Governor Hochul said. “The bills I’m signing into law today will ensure people with disabilities are supported in health care, employment and beyond. Working together, we’ll make sure our recovery from the pandemic includes every single New Yorker.”

Legislation S.1035-A/A.4685 protects an individual with disabilities’ right to have an essential support person accompany them for the duration of their hospitalization. The law defines the term disability as an individual having any condition or disorder that makes it difficult for them to communicate a medical condition or certain or everyday needs, including but not limited to autism or cerebral palsy. The support person is defines as an individual who frequently accompanies and assists the individual with the disability. This law makes certain that a hospital may not establish any rules or regulations in a response to a pandemic or state disaster emergency declared by the governor, to prohibit a patient who suffers from a disability from having an essential support person present for the duration of their hospitalizations. The individual with a disability is allowed to designate a single support person to assist with medical and everyday needs, and that such essential support person shall be limited to the patient’s parent, spouse or caretaker.

“This law, known as Fred’s Law, is a major step forward in protecting our citizens with disabilities if they need to enter a hospital by allowing an essential support person to accompany them for the duration of their stay. The D’Amico family has fought hard to make sure that no other family goes through the pain they felt when they lost Fred because no one was allowed to be with him when he entered the hospital in 2020. I want to thank Governor Hochul for signing this important piece of legislation into law.”  said State Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr.

 “People with disabilities and their families must be heard in New York State and this bill accomplishes that. Fred’s Law is a major victory for people with disabilities and their families that have a hard time receiving the proper medical care. This legislation will ensure that families with folks in Fred’s position will never go through what they went through, and that everyone has a voice in their own healthcare. I want to thank Governor Hochul for signing this important legislation, and Senator Addabbo for his partnership in the State Senate.” said Assemblymember Stacey Pheffer Amato.

Legislation S.6293/A.7358 changes who will appoint the members of the developmental disabilities advisory council to include legislative appointments. The appointments consist of eight members appointed by the temporary president of the senate, eight members 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 fifteen members appointed by the governor.

Legislation S.6294-A/A.7381 requires the developmental disability advisory council to evaluate and produce a report on the state’s response to the COVID-19 state disaster emergency as it relates to individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities with assistance from the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) and the Department of Health. OPWDD will conduct a thorough review and investigation and produce a report on their response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Legislation S.6276-A/A.7223 requires the president of the civil service commission to conduct a study on the employment of persons and veterans with disabilities by the state and make recommendations as to whether the state needs to hire more persons and veterans with disabilities to fill positions created by sections in the civil service law. President will also make recommendations on how to conduct outreach to these individuals about suitable employment opportunities.

“By signing these bills into law Governor Hochul is signaling her strong support for New Yorkers with a developmental or intellectual disability. As the Chair of the Disabilities Committee, I introduced these bills to increase transparency and ensure that individuals with disabilities can lead a fulfilling life with ample employment opportunities. I look forward to continuing to partner with the governor on addressing the many serious and longstanding issues impacting this community including the workforce crisis, funding of special education programs, and preserving community based CDPAP services.” said State Senator John W. Mannion.

“Governor Hochul took the right action in signing legislation to require a thorough review of the state’s pandemic response with respect to people with intellectual or developmental disabilities. People with these disabilities are extremely vulnerable because of their comorbid conditions and because they live in congregate settings. The review can provide guidance on how best to protect our most vulnerable from infectious diseases. I also applaud Governor Hochul’s signing legislation to place legislative appointees on the developmental disabilities advisory board. Her acceptance of this legislation signals her recognition of the proper role of the legislature and her willingness to partner with the legislature in fashioning OPWDD policy.” said Assemblymember Thomas J. Abinanti.

“Some one million working-age New Yorkers live with a disability. Just 33 percent of those New Yorkers are employed, according to analysis by the State Comptroller. To address this disparity, we need data to better understand how we as government can support these New Yorkers best. I am proud to have worked with Sen. Mannion to pass this important legislation that will illuminate how the 55-b and 55-c programs are serving people with disabilities, and what can be done to ensure New York is a leader employing people with disabilities. I thank Governor Hochul for signing this legislation and I look forward to working with her to increase the number of people with disabilities in the public and private workforce.” said Assemblymember Harvey Epstein.

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