Assemblymember Paulin's Able Column
Task Force Seeks Input and Participation from Disability Advocates
November 2005

Because this will be my last column before we welcome in a new year and begin the 2006 Legislative Session, I wanted to take a look back at a few of the victories we have celebrated over the last eleven months with a hopeful eye on the future. As many of you may know by now, on July 12, 2005, after years of vigilant advocacy, legislation was signed into law (Chapter 188 of 2005) making people with disabilities eligible for relief from rent increases similar to that afforded to senior citizens through the SCRIE program (Senior Citizens' Rent Increase Exemption), if their localities opt into it.

Furthermore, students with disabilities who get to and from school by school bus will now travel in a safer environment, thanks to legislation signed into law on August 9th, (Chapter 453 of 2005) requiring new school buses which transport three or more children with disabilities who use wheelchairs or other assistive mobility devices to be equipped with automatic fire suppression systems.

In addition, we were able to secure for the first time Senate sponsorship of several bills that the Assembly has been passing for years. Therefore, I would like to thank Senator Spano for introducing my bill which will place federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title III protections into state law. I would also like to thank Senator Morahan for introducing two of my bills that will mandate in state law that access aisles of handicapped parking spaces are eight feet wide and marked with appropriate signage. While these measures have not yet passed the Senate, I look forward to working with Senator Spano, Senator Morahan and the rest of my Senate colleagues to realize these goals in 2006.

All of these accomplishments are due to, in great part, to the intense amount of work and support that New York's disability advocates commit to the priorities set forth by people with disabilities from across the state. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to applaud the efforts of those of you who have dedicated a great portion of your lives toward improving the lives of New Yorkers with disabilities, and implore you to continue with your important work.

Additionally, I would like to encourage any of you who might be thinking of becoming active as a disability advocate to indeed join the ranks. What we all must remember is that every voice does count. A stronger, larger coalition of disability advocates will result in a louder, even more effective voice to be heard in Albany. Please call my Task Force office at 518-455-4592 for more information regarding valuable ways that you can participate in advocating for changes that will better the lives of people with disabilities in New York State.

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