Legislative Wrap-Up March 1, 2010: Senate Protects Crime/Fraud Victims, Provides Equal Justice & Emergency Care for New Yorkers

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    The Senate Majority passed a powerful package of bills enhancing civil protections, and providing for increased access to emergency care resources.

     

    Today’s legislative package affords broad protections for New Yorkers by:

    ·         Assisting crime victims in their recovery process;

    ·         Ensure domestic violence victims can register to vote without fear;

    ·         Offering victims of sexual abuse and communities with updated sex offender information;

    ·         Providing emergency medical care for individuals injured in alcohol and drug related car accidents;

    ·         Preventing the fraudulent use of handicapped parking registration; and

    ·         Enabling homeowners to extend the payment period for delinquent taxes.

     

    Legislation:

    ·         S1538-B/Stavisky: makes information of victim assistance programs available to crime victims following victimization.

    ·         S5945 /Foley: allows election registration records of domestic violence victims to remain confidential.

    ·         S3554/Breslin: remedies statutory obstacles preventing health service providers from receiving compensation for emergency treatment they provide to injured persons who are either intoxicated or drug impaired.

    ·         S402/Breslin: requires handicapped parking permits to be written in indelible ink or some other form of permanent marking to prevent tampering.

    ·         S2923/LaValle: requires the division of criminal justice services to include information stating whether a sex offender is in violation of registration requirements.

    ·         S5328-A/Morahan: allows local governments to increase the maximum term of installment agreements for payment of delinquent taxes from twenty four months to thirty six months, until December 31, 2011.

     

    Helping Crime Victims Recover

    This legislation, sponsored by Senator Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Queens) would require that information be given to crime victims about crime assistance programs at places such as the police station, precinct house, hospital emergency room, domestic violence shelter or homeless shelter.  The information given would be limited to only programs funded by the Crime Victims Board to ensure accuracy.

    “The need for accurate information regarding victim assistance programs is extremely important.  People who have been criminally victimized often suffer severe physical, psychological and / or financial harm,” Senator Stavisky said.  “The Crime Victims Board carefully vets and continuously monitors the victim assistance programs that it funds to ensure that these programs provide accurate and useful information to victims in their time of need.”

     

    Ensuring Proper Emergency Treatment to All New Yorkers

    This legislation, sponsored by Senator Neil D. Breslin (D-Albany) would permit reimbursement to health service providers for necessary related medical treatment performed by a general hospital or an ambulance worker on a person who was injured in a car accident while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  This bill would also permit reimbursement for necessary related medical screening, such as blood alcohol and drug tests, performed in a general hospital or by an ambulance worker.

    Under current law, a no-fault insurer may exclude a person from insurance coverage if the injuries they  sustained were as a result of driving drunk or under the influence of drugs.  However, under the Public Health Law and the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, health service providers are required to provide medical services to anyone in need of such care. 

    As a result, health service providers are sometimes not compensated for services they are required to perform to stabilize their patients.  This can lead doctors to avoid blood alcohol and other tests for intoxication or drug use for fear they will be denied compensation, undermining medically appropriate screening procedures.

    “By permitting reimbursement for necessary related medical screenings, such as blood alcohol and drug test, more screenings will occur, underlying drug or alcohol problems will be more frequently identified and addressed, and ultimately fewer drug or alcohol related injuries will occur,” Senator Breslin said. 

     

    Safeguarding Handicapped Parking Spaces From Fraudulent Use

    This bill also sponsored by Senator Neil D. Breslin (D-Albany)  would prevent individuals from altering handicapped parking permits in order to park illegally by requiring the permits to be written in indelible ink or inscribed in another permanent fashion.

    “Since there is a limited number of parking spaces designated for handicapped use fraudulent tag holders create an extreme burden for those who legally depend on these spots,” Senator Breslin said.  “Making permits more difficult to alter will lessen the amount of fraudulent holders, and allow for more access to available handicapped spaces for the disabled people who need them.”

     

    Protecting Victims of Domestic Violence

    This legislation, sponsored by Senator Brian X. Foley would allow voter registration records of domestic violence victims to be kept confidential to prevent abusers from learning the victims current address.

    Under current state law, local boards of election are required to provide the address of any registered voter, as long as the request is in writing and the applicable law is cited causing some victims of domestic abuse to not register to vote for fear of their address being provided to their abuser.

    “Often times, victims of domestic move to avoid being found by the person who was abusing them,”  Senator Foley said.  “Keeping voter registration records of those who have been abused confidential would afford domestic violence victims the security they deserve while still protecting their right to vote. I am proud to sponsor this legislation and support women and families confronting domestic violence.”

     

    Informing New Yorkers of Sex Offender Status

    This legislation, sponsored by Senator Kenneth P. LaValle (R-Suffolk), would require the Division of Criminal Justice Services to update sex offender information to victims, their families and the community if an offender is in violation of registration requirements.

    According to the New York State Sex Offender Registry, there were nearly 30,000 registered sex offenders in the state in 2008.  Many registration forms submitted to the Registry are missing information and require extensive follow-up by staff, however this information is not always relayed to the public, specifically the victims, their families and the community that an offender is now presiding in.  By providing this information people will now have the ability to recognize and be aware of who is living in their community.

    “Members of communities – women, men, children and especially victims of sexual abuse have the right to know who is living in their neighborhoods and the registry is the most effective way to ensure that this happens,” Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson (D-Bronx and Westchester), Chair of the Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee said.

     

    Preventing Foreclosures

    Currently, local governments are able to negotiate with citizens who due to worsening economic conditions have been unable to pay their taxes on time to pay them over time on an installment plan.  This bill, sponsored by Senator Thomas P. Morahan (R-Nanuet) would permit local governments, at their option, to increase the installment payment plan for the currently 24 months to an period of 36 months until December 31, 2011 in order to help New Yorkers avoid foreclosure.

    “Enabling New Yorkers to save their homes from foreclosure is critical to the economic stability of  our communities,”  Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Westchester), Chair of the Local Governments committee said.  “Allowing local governments to give homeowners more time to catch up on delinquent tax payments will prevent uprooting families and lowering neighboring property values.”

     

    Other legislation passed today includes:

    ·         S5481A / Savino, which establishes a new day of commemoration to be known as  Women’s Equality Day.

    ·         S6352A / Adams which, authorizes state colleges with an approved equine science program to conduct equine drug testing at race meetings.

    ·         S3775C / Squadron, which provides that in cities with a population over one million, required distances of bars from schools, places of worship and existing licensed premises be measured from the closest boundary lines.

    ·         S3703A / Foley, which makes provisions allowing any individual to make limited loans to family members without requiring an individual to obtain a mortgage banking license.

    ·         S5701A/ Schneiderman, which removes burdensome regulations that threaten the livelihoods of yoga studios.

    ·         S5720 / Sampson, which relates to online listing of real property for sale or rent.

    ·         S638A/ Larkin, which requires a report due the governor and legislature to include the incidence of misrepresentation by insured of the principal place where vehicles are driven and stored.

    ·         S3271/ Nozzolio, which makes the judicial hearing officer pilot program in the family courts of the seventh and eighth judicial districts permanent.

    ·         S5772/ Volker, which extends from 4 years to 8 years, the term of office of commissioner of jurors.

    ·         S30/ Fuschillo, which allows local tax collectors to send tax statements by electronic mail to an address provided by a homeowner and to opt out of receiving paper statements.