Assemblymember Paulin's Able Column
Important Legislative Matters - July 2006

As many of you are already aware, the New York State Assembly celebrated Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day, which is cosponsored by the Task Force on People with Disabilities and the Committee on Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, on Wednesday, May 17, 2006. Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day brought together advocates, people with disabilities and their families, legislators and their staffs, and the general public to focus on the issues most important to New York's disability community.

This year's event was extremely informative and productive, but it was also celebratory in that we honored all of the hard work that went into creating a successful disability agenda. And most importantly, it provided those of us Assemblymembers with an opportunity to share the legislative work we are pursuing, often in conjunction with advocates, to improve the lives of New Yorkers with disabilities.

As we celebrate the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, I would like to inform Able's readers about some of the legislative measures the Assembly passed in honor of Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day, several of which are aimed at reinforcing ADA protections on the state level. The Assembly addressed obstacles faced by people with disabilities by:

  • Requiring ballots for all elections to be available in Braille, upon the request of a blind or visually impaired voter. (A.1852/Koon)

  • Waiving the state's sovereign immunity to liability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, restoring the rights of state employees to sue the State of New York for damages due to violations of the ADA. (A.2159/Lifton)

  • Clarifying the scope of protections against discrimination on the basis of disability under the New York State Human Rights Law in the areas of government services and public accommodations, consistent with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and the current policies and practices of the Division of Human Rights. (A.6328/Cahill & A.7294/Paulin)

  • Requiring access aisles of handicapped accessible parking places to be at least eight feet wide and marked with a sign and diagonal stripes. (A.7337/Paulin & A.7338/Paulin)

  • Designating polling places to be directly on a public transportation route, whenever practicable. (A.7339/Paulin)

  • Requiring that programs or activities relating to housing which receives federal financial assistance to comply with the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973. (A.7867/Paulin)

  • Creating and maintaining a housing registry of accessible or adaptable housing for people with disabilities to be called "Access-New York." (A.7868/Paulin)

  • Establishing emergency evacuation plan requirements for individuals with disabilities within high-rise buildings and imposing a $500 fine for failure to comply. (A.10361/Paulin)

  • Allowing specified drivers with severe disabilities to park for free at parking meters if certain conditions are met. (A.10563/Paulin)

  • Authorizing savings from the Nursing Home Transition and Diversion waiver program to be reinvested in housing subsidies for certain participants. (A.10726/Paulin)

Now we all need to encourage the Senate and Governor to move on these important measures as well. As always, I look forward to working with many of you in our continued mission to improve life in New York State for people with disabilities.

New York State Assembly
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