Numerous Senate Bills Given Final Passage – Next Step: The Governor's Desk

June 17, 2017

More than Two Dozen Bills Have Passed Both Houses and Will Be Sent to the Governor
The New York State Senate today announced that final passage was given this week to numerous important bills that will be sent to the Governor in coming weeks for review. The bills given final passage this week include:

Improving the Well-Being of Individuals with Mental, Physical, and Developmental Challenges:

Helping Individuals With Disabilities Manage Medical Costs: Bill S1241, sponsored by Senator Robert Ortt (R-C-I, North Tonawanda), requires new Medicaid enrollees to be notified of a Pooled Trust option to help manage medical and living expenses. This option allows individuals with disabilities to deposit excess income into a trust so that they can continue to afford crucial medical supplies and services through Medicaid, maintain an income for living expenses and independence, and save the state money by reducing the need to be placed in a nursing facility. 

Removing the Stigma from Mental Illness: Bill S1210C, sponsored by Senator Ortt, would direct the Office of Mental Health (OMH) to create a "Mental Health Matters" license plate available for purchase from the state, which would use the proceeds to create a mental illness anti-stigma fund that provides grants to organizations dedicated to eliminating the stigma attached to mental illness. Building upon years of steps in the right direction by New York, this license plate and fund would increase awareness and help combat stigmas attributed to mental illness.

Ensuring a Continuity of Care for People with Developmental Disabilities: Bill S5681, sponsored by Senator Ortt, codifies the Care Demonstration Program within the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD). The successful program provides vital support to individuals who may not need residential care but are still in need of community-based programs offered by state employees, and this bill will ensure its services continue.

Improving the Coordination of Care for Special Education Students: Bill S1692, sponsored by Senator Carl Marcellino (R, Syosset), would help provide transitional services for special education students after aging out of tuition free educational services. Under current law, the Committee on Special Education is required to give written notice to parents that their child is not eligible for tuition free programs after the age of 21 or high school graduation, and provide annual review of their individual education plan. This legislation streamlines the transition process by requiring both notices in an enhanced version of the annual review when the child turns 18 helping to save local school districts’ staff time and money, while also better serving students, families, and educational team members.

Maintaining the Western New York Children's Psychiatric Center as a Separate and Distinct Entity: Bill S4630, sponsored by Senator Patrick M. Gallivan (R-C-I, Elma) prohibits the Western New York Children's Psychiatric Center from being collocated or merged with any other facility. Aside from the health facility having been constantly rated top tier by the Joint Commission on Accredited Health Care, its rural and environmentally friendly location has been therapeutic for children with mental health disorders; moving this facility would create long-term aggregate losses to the state and harm its most vulnerable populations.

Protecting Seniors, Children, and Vulnerable New Yorkers:

Providing a Tax Credit for Universal Visitability Designed Homes: Bill S2411, sponsored by Senator John DeFrancisco (R-C-I, Syracuse), would help seniors or others with disabilities stay in their communities by providing a tax credit for new or retrofitted principal residences that are universally designed to be accessible and adaptable housing. Universal design changes make homes accessible and user-friendly for senior citizens and others with limited mobility, helping people remain in their communities instead of assisted living facilities or nursing homes. It will also increase the future inventory of residences designed to ensure accessibility.  

Creating a Hotline for Reporting Abuse of Vulnerable Adults: Bill S2154A, sponsored by Senator Sue Serino (R-C-I, Hyde Park), establishes a statewide, toll-free hotline to receive reports of various forms of abuse regarding vulnerable adults. The hotline shall be operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Preventing the Overburdening of Child Protective Service Employees: Bill S3146, sponsored by Senator Martin Golden (R-C-I, Brooklyn), would help protect the state’s most vulnerable children by establishing workload standards for child protective services (CPS) workers. Full-time CPS workers would have no more than 15 active cases to help further ensure effective investigations of child abuse and maltreatment.

Improving Coordination in Preventing Domestic Violence: Bill S5394A, sponsored by Senator James Tedisco (R-C-I, Glenville), adds the state police and Office of Victim Services as new members to the state’s Domestic Violence Fatality Review team. The new members would bring law enforcement and victim advocate experience to enhance the development of policies for effective intervention, public education, and advocacy, and facilitate and assure communication and coordination of efforts among state agencies and all levels of government in ending domestic violence.

Promoting the Adoption of Special Needs Children: Bill S4492, sponsored by Senator Golden, examines the effect potential medical and other costs and fees might have in preventing more people from adopting a child with special needs by helping the state better understand the impact a financial incentive in the form of a tax credit for special needs adoptions. The bill directs the Office of Children and Family Services and Department of Taxation and Finance to complete a report on the impact of a tax deduction for expenses attributed to adopting a special needs child, such as adoption fees, medical, legal fees, and court costs.  

Continuing the Foster Family Care Demonstration Program: Bill S6081, sponsored by Senator Serino, will extend the Foster Family Care Demonstration Program for an additional four years. The State is constantly trying to find ways to reduce and contain rising Medicaid costs. This program was established as a cost-effective community-based alternative to care in a residential health care facility by providing room and board, supervision, and assistance of personal care in the home of a participating caregiver when family support is unavailable.

Promoting the Health of New Yorkers:

Helping Prevent Breast Cancer with 3D Mammography: Bill S4150, sponsored by Senator Joseph Griffo (R-C-I, Rome), would require breasttomosynthesis (3-D mammography) to be covered by health insurance companies in New York State. 3-D mammography has proven to be a more consistent and dependable way of detecting breast cancer, but not all insurers cover this type of screening. Under this bill, insurers would be responsible for providing this type of coverage in an effort to identify breast cancer earlier and potentially save lives.

Making the Rural Health Council Permanent: Bill S4741, sponsored by Senator Kemp Hannon (R, Nassau), would codify in law the state’s Rural Health Council within the Department of Health (DOH) to continue and enhance its role in addressing health care challenges facing less populous parts of the state.

Encouraging Transparency, Regulatory Reform, and Cutting Red Tape in Government:

Increasing Transparency and Accountability at the MTA: Bill S5159, sponsored by Senator Mike Ranzenhofer (R-C-I, Amherst), would require any capital program plans by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) that is available to one or more committees or board members to be made available to the public. Under current law, access to the plans are only available to MTA capital program review board members. With tens of billions of dollars at stake, the approval process for any capital program plans would be better served if there was more public participation.

Enhancing Public Access to Regulatory Documents: Bill S5721, sponsored Senator Chris Jacobs (60th District), would encourage the public to have their voices heard in state government regulatory reforms by requiring the State Administrative Procedures Act (SAPA) to utilize electronic communications in rulemaking notices. Under current law, SAPA requires that state agencies only send out paper mail for these notices, which is outdated and costly.

Cutting Red Tape to Buying Sparklers in New York: Bill S724A, sponsored by Senator Tom O’Mara (R-C-I, Big Flats), would exempt “sparkling devices” from the definition of “fireworks” and “dangerous fireworks,” but allow cities and counties to adopt local laws that prohibit the use and sale of such devices. The bill would correct a regulatory patchwork of local laws and make it easier for law enforcement and citizens to have a clear understanding of those laws.

Establishing the Temporary Advisory Board on Upstate Transit Funding: Bill 2083A, sponsored by Senator O’Mara, creates an advisory board to help support mobility options for upstate New York residents. The board would study, develop, and make specific recommendations for the growth, stability, and sustainability of state public transit funding options.

Promoting Farmers and Agribusiness:

Helping Provide Predictability for Agritourism Proprietors and Consumers: Bill S1152A, sponsored by Senator Ortt, would work towards fixing many problems a growing sector of the New York economy is facing. The measure would establish standards to be observed by agritourism business operators and their customers that would limit their liability provided they follow the standards. Under no standards, the cost of liability insurance for farms with agritourism activities is becoming prohibitive, particularly for small farms, making business planning difficult. 

Allowing More Farmers to Qualify for the Farmer's School Tax Credit: Bill S2899, sponsored by Senator Patty Ritchie (R-C, Heuvelton), would allow farmers who rent land from a trust, to which they are a beneficiary, to claim the Farmer's School Tax Credit. There are over 400 farms in New York State classified as "cooperative, estate or trust, institutional" and a significant number of those are trusts. This legislation would ensure that these family farms continue a legacy of good business and provide future generations with the opportunities that previous ones had.

Honoring Our Veterans:

Venerating POW/MIAs at the State Capitol: Bill S5540, sponsored by Senator Andrew Lanza (R-C-I, Staten Island), would direct the Commissioner of General Services to place a POW/MIA chair and plaque in the State Capitol to honor United States prisoners of war and those still missing in action. The POW/MIA Chair of Honor would be a simple yet powerful symbol to honor the 91,000 who remain unaccounted for, and remain forever empty as a reminder to all.

Authorizing Distinctive License Plates for Conspicuous Service Cross Recipients: Bill S2564C, sponsored by Senator Pam Helming (R-C-I, Canandaigua), authorizes the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue distinctive license plates to recognizes recipients of the New York State Conspicuous Service Cross or their spouse. Conspicuous Service Cross recipients are combat veterans who served with valor, many of whom were wounded in battle while defending our country. This measure would allow these individuals to receive recognition.

Additional Legislation:

Extending STEM Scholarship Eligibility to Private Colleges: Bill S2466A, sponsored by Senator Kenneth LaValle (R-C-I, Port Jefferson), will broaden the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Incentive program to include applicants attending a private college, in addition to SUNY/CUNY schools. This helps interested students find academic programs tailored to their educational and financial needs.

Allowing Geothermal Energy to Flourish in New York: Bill S688, sponsored by Senator Ortt, would include geothermal energy systems within the meaning of the term “qualified energy efficiency services” for purposes of on-bill financing under the Power NY Act of 2011. Geothermal energy systems provide natural and efficient energy, and although New York’s resources are extremely compatible with this type of energy, it is expensive to operate. Allowing funding from established sources will increase the use of this type of energy, creating more green jobs and reducing the amount of carbon used to heat buildings.

Lifting Financial Burdens on Student Borrowers and their Loved Ones: Bill S4491, sponsored by Senator Simcha Felder (D, Brooklyn), would grant a personal income tax deduction for any student loan that is discharged as the result of a student or borrower’s death or permanent and total disability. Under current law, a student loan can be discharged because of the borrower’s death or disability, but the amount is still considered taxable income for the student or borrower’s family. This measure would address an excessive hardship on families who have experienced such a tragedy by exempting the discharged student loans from being taxed in New York.

Senators Involved