senate Bill S485

2011-2012 Legislative Session

Directs establishment and administration of a statewide program for telephone access for all New Yorkers, including the hearing and visually impaired

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Archive: Last Bill Status - In Committee


  • Introduced
  • In Committee
  • On Floor Calendar
    • Passed Senate
    • Passed Assembly
  • Delivered to Governor
  • Signed/Vetoed by Governor

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Actions

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Assembly Actions - Lowercase
Senate Actions - UPPERCASE
Jan 04, 2012 referred to energy and telecommunications
Jan 05, 2011 referred to energy and telecommunications

S485 - Bill Details

Current Committee:
Law Section:
Public Service Law
Laws Affected:
Add §91-b, amd §18-a, Pub Serv L
Versions Introduced in 2009-2010 Legislative Session:
S431

S485 - Bill Texts

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Directs the department of public service to implement a program assuring access to telephone service for all New Yorkers, including but not limited to the hearing and visually impaired; provides for the use of assistive telecommunications devices or adaptive equipment; directs local service companies to bear their proportionate share of the costs.

view sponsor memo
BILL NUMBER:S485

TITLE OF BILL:
An act
to amend the public service law, in relation to telephone access for all
New Yorkers

PURPOSE:
The purpose of this bill is to ensure equitable access to basic
telephone service for people with disabilities.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
This bill would direct the Department of Public Service to implement a
program that provides equitable access to basic telecommunication
services to all people who are deaf, hard of hearing, severely speech
impaired, or deaf-blind. The bill includes criteria for eligibility
and criteria for affordable technology for those who are financially
able.

The costs of this program are estimated by the Chairman of the
Commission prior to the start of each fiscal year and become a part
of the public Service Commission's costs and expenses in § l8-a of
the public Service Law. The bill would also provide for the
distribution of such telecommunications devices, including those that
incorporate new technologies, to people with disabilities. Further,
the bill limits eligibility for equipment to those people with
disabilities who are five years of age or older. Finally, the bill
requires that the Department utilize the assistance of and cooperate
with community based organizations and to convene a citizens advisory
committee on telephone access which shall, in conjunction with the
Department, annually report on the progress of the program to the
Governor, the Assembly Speaker and the Senate Majority Leader.

JUSTIFICATION:
Telecommunications services provide a rapid and essential link between
the general public and critical services such as police, fire and
medical assistance. Currently, there are approximately 1.6 million
New Yorkers who are deaf or hard of hearing who are not entitled to
the same basic telephone services that non disabled people can obtain
easily. No deaf, deaf-blind or hard of hearing citizen of New York
State should be denied equal access to our telecommunications
network. This group of individuals has been forced to purchase
special devices to make telephone service a reality to them. This
bill would provide that all people, regardless of disability, have
access to basic telecommunications services. There are 11 states that
provide similar programs utilizing a surcharge on all telephone
customers.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
2007-2008: S.2164 Referred to Energy and Telecommunications

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS:
None.

EFFECTIVE DATE:
Immediate.


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                    S T A T E   O F   N E W   Y O R K
________________________________________________________________________

                                   485

                       2011-2012 Regular Sessions

                            I N  S E N A T E

                               (PREFILED)

                             January 5, 2011
                               ___________

Introduced  by  Sen.  ROBACH -- read twice and ordered printed, and when
  printed to be committed to the Committee on  Energy  and  Telecommuni-
  cations

AN  ACT to amend the public service law, in relation to telephone access
  for all New Yorkers

  THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND  ASSEM-
BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

  Section  1.  The public service law is amended by adding a new section
91-b to read as follows:
  S 91-B. TELEPHONE ACCESS FOR ALL NEW YORKERS. 1. THE COMMISSION  SHALL
ESTABLISH  AND  ADMINISTER A STATEWIDE PROGRAM TO DISTRIBUTE, AT NO COST
TO THE RECIPIENTS, ASSISTIVE TELECOMMUNICATIONS DEVICES TO  PERSONS  WHO
ARE  DEAF,  HARD OF HEARING, SEVERELY SPEECH IMPAIRED, OR DEAF-BLIND, OR
ADAPTIVE EQUIPMENT TO PERMIT THE USE OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS EQUIPMENT  TO
PERSONS WITH OTHER PHYSICAL DISABILITIES SO THAT TELEPHONE SERVICE SHALL
BE MADE GENERALLY AVAILABLE TO ALL DISABLED PERSONS IN THE STATE.
  2.  IN  ORDER  TO  BE  ELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE ASSISTIVE TELECOMMUNICATION
DEVICES OR ADAPTIVE EQUIPMENT, INDIVIDUALS MUST BE AT LEAST  FIVE  YEARS
OLD  AND  MUST  BE  CERTIFIED AS HAVING THE DISABILITY THAT REQUIRES THE
PARTICULAR ASSISTIVE TELECOMMUNICATION  DEVICES  OR  ADAPTIVE  EQUIPMENT
REQUESTED  BY  THE  INDIVIDUAL  BY  A PERSON OR AGENCY AUTHORIZED BY THE
COMMISSION TO MAKE SUCH CERTIFICATIONS. SUCH PERSONS SHALL  INCLUDE  BUT
NEED NOT BE LIMITED TO PHYSICIANS, AUDIOLOGISTS, SPEECH-LANGUAGE PATHOL-
OGISTS, VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION COUNSELORS, OR OTHER QUALIFIED PROFES-
SIONALS WITHIN THE AREA OF THEIR QUALIFICATIONS.
  3.  NOTWITHSTANDING ANY OTHER PROVISION OF THIS SECTION, AN INDIVIDUAL
WHO IS HEARING IMPAIRED TO A DEGREE THAT THE ONLY ASSISTIVE TELECOMMUNI-
CATION DEVICES REQUIRED FOR EFFECTIVE TELEPHONE COMMUNICATIONS WOULD  BE
AN  AMPLIFIER,  AMPLIFIED TELEPHONE, AN AUDIBLE SIGNALING DEVICE, OR ANY
COMBINATION THEREOF THAT ARE READILY AVAILABLE ON THE RETAIL MARKET AT A

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD01927-01-1

S. 485                              2

PRICE SUCH THAT THE COST (AS DETERMINED BY THE COMMISSION) OF THE COMBI-
NATION OF SUCH DEVICES DOES NOT EXCEED TWO HUNDRED PERCENT OF THE  AVER-
AGE  COST  OF  A NON-AMPLIFIED TELEPHONE OF SIMILAR QUALITY SHALL NOT BE
ENTITLED  TO RECEIVE SUCH ASSISTIVE TELECOMMUNICATION DEVICES UNLESS THE
INDIVIDUAL IS A MEMBER OF A FAMILY WITH A FAMILY INCOME OF LESS THAN TWO
HUNDRED PERCENT OF THE FEDERAL POVERTY LEVEL.
  4. THE COMMISSION SHALL PROMULGATE SUCH REGULATIONS AS  ARE  NECESSARY
TO IMPLEMENT THE PROGRAM ESTABLISHED BY THIS SECTION, INCLUDING, BUT NOT
LIMITED TO, REGULATIONS CONCERNING TECHNOLOGY ELIGIBLE FOR DISTRIBUTION,
METHODS  OF  ENCOURAGING AND TAKING ADVANTAGE OF TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCES,
AND METHODS OF ESTABLISHING PRIORITIES  AMONG  APPLICANTS,  WHICH  SHALL
TAKE  INTO CONSIDERATION THE FACT THAT AN APPLICANT HAS ASSISTIVE EQUIP-
MENT AT THE TIME OF APPLICATION REGARDLESS OF THE SOURCE OF FUNDING  FOR
SUCH ASSISTIVE EQUIPMENT.
  5.  THE  DEPARTMENT SHALL UTILIZE THE ASSISTANCE OF AND COOPERATE WITH
COMMUNITY-BASED PROGRAMS FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES IN  THE  AREAS  OF
TRAINING,  OUTREACH,  EQUIPMENT DISTRIBUTION, TROUBLESHOOTING, AND OTHER
AREAS WHICH MAY BE APPROPRIATE FOR COMMUNITY BASED PROGRAMS.    COMMUNI-
TY-BASED  PROGRAMS  SHALL  BE  COMPENSATED  FOR  THE SERVICES WHICH THEY
PROVIDE.
  6. THE DEPARTMENT  SHALL  CONVENE  AND  SUPPORT  A  CITIZENS  ADVISORY
COMMITTEE  ON TELEPHONE ACCESS FOR ALL NEW YORKERS. THE ADVISORY COMMIT-
TEE SHALL CONSIST OF ONE MEMBER EACH  APPOINTED  BY  THE  GOVERNOR,  THE
TEMPORARY  PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, AND THE SPEAKER OF THE ASSEMBLY, AND
AT LEAST FOUR ADDITIONAL MEMBERS WHO REPRESENT PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES,
INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, PEOPLE WHO ARE HARD OF HEARING, DEAF,  OR
DEAF-BLIND.  THE  LATTER MEMBERS SHALL BE APPOINTED BY THE GOVERNOR UPON
NOMINATION BY PROVIDERS OF COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES TO PEOPLE WITH DISA-
BILITIES, INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES, AND OTHER INTERESTED PARTIES.
  7. THE DEPARTMENT, IN COOPERATION WITH THE ADVISORY  COMMITTEE,  SHALL
PROVIDE A REPORT TO THE GOVERNOR, THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE,
AND THE SPEAKER OF THE ASSEMBLY ONE YEAR FROM THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THIS
SECTION  AND ANNUALLY ON THAT DATE THEREAFTER. THE REPORT SHALL DOCUMENT
THE PROGRESS OF THE PROGRAM IN PROVIDING TELEPHONE  ACCESS  TO  ALL  NEW
YORKERS.
  S 2. Section 18-a of the public service law is amended by adding a new
subdivision 3-a to read as follows:
  3-A.  THE  CHAIRPERSON  OF THE COMMISSION SHALL ESTIMATE, PRIOR TO THE
START OF EACH FISCAL YEAR BEGINNING AFTER MARCH THIRTY-FIRST OF THE YEAR
AFTER THE YEAR IN WHICH THIS SUBDIVISION WAS ADDED, THE TOTAL COSTS  AND
EXPENSES  OF  OPERATING  THE PROGRAM TO PROVIDE EQUIPMENT TO ALLOW TELE-
PHONE ACCESS TO ALL NEW YORKERS ESTABLISHED PURSUANT TO SECTION  NINETY-
ONE-B OF THIS CHAPTER FOR THE FOLLOWING FISCAL YEAR, INCLUDING THE COSTS
OF  EQUIPMENT  AND OF ADMINISTERING THE PROGRAM. BASED ON SUCH ESTIMATE,
THE CHAIRPERSON SHALL DETERMINE THE AMOUNT TO BE PAID AS A CONDITION  OF
DOING BUSINESS WITHIN THIS STATE BY EACH TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANY THAT
PROVIDES  LOCAL SERVICE IN THIS STATE; PROVIDED, HOWEVER, THAT THE TOTAL
COSTS AND EXPENSES SHALL BE ALLOCATED TO  EACH  SUCH  TELECOMMUNICATIONS
COMPANY  IN  THE  PROPORTION  THAT THE NUMBER OF TELEPHONE LINES IN THIS
STATE OF EACH SUCH TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANY BEARS TO THE TOTAL  NUMBER
OF  LINES  IN  THE  STATE, AND A BILL SHALL BE RENDERED THEREFOR TO EACH
SUCH TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANY ACCORDINGLY.
  S 3. Subdivision 5 of section 18-a  of  the  public  service  law,  as
amended  by  chapter  788  of  the  laws  of 1978, is amended to read as
follows:

S. 485                              3

  5. On demand made within thirty days of  the  rendition  of  any  bill
pursuant  to  subdivision  two, three, THREE-A, or four of this section,
the party so charged shall be afforded an opportunity to be heard as  to
the  amount  thereof.   Any amounts of such bills not paid within thirty
days  from  the  date  of  determination upon such hearings, or, if none
shall be demanded, on the date upon which such  payment  is  due,  shall
bear  interest  at  a rate to be prescribed by regulation of the commis-
sion. Such rate shall be not less than six [percentum]  PER  CENTUM  per
annum nor more than the rate of interest prescribed by the banking board
pursuant  to  the provisions of section fourteen-a of the banking law in
effect on the day immediately [preceeding] PRECEDING the date  on  which
the provisions of this subdivision, as amended, become effective, but if
the  commission  has  not set such rate, interest at six [percentum] PER
CENTUM per annum shall apply. Any interest rate set  by  the  commission
shall  become  effective  not  less  than  sixty days after such rate is
promulgated.
  S 4. This act shall take effect immediately.

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