Money raised from the sale of such Down Syndrome Awareness license plates will be directed to a new DS research fund, Sen. Addabbo said.
By Michael V. Cusenza
Three South Queens pols this week lauded various pieces of legislation aimed at ensuring equality and fairness for New Yorkers with disabilities by strengthening anti-discrimination protections and improving access to State resources.
Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Howard Beach) detailed a package of bills that the Assembly recently approved that would support Empire State residents with disabilities, including a measure that would re-establish the Office of the Advocate for People with Disabilities, which would defend persons with disabilities and ensure that they are afforded the opportunity to exercise all of the rights and responsibilities accorded to all citizens of the state; and to better protect people with disabilities from housing discrimination, another bill would allow service animals to dwell with their owners.
Pheffer Amato noted that the Assembly package also includes bills to help ensure that New Yorkers with disabilities are properly protected in case of an emergency by: requiring every high-rise building owner to establish and maintain an emergency evacuation plan for disabled occupants and visitors; and aiding localities in preparing for and responding to disasters by requiring counties with local emergency management plans to maintain a confidential registry of people of all ages with disabilities who may require evacuation assistance and shelter during a disaster. These people would be provided with the option to be included on such a ledger.
And to better assist veterans with service-related disabilities, Pheffer Amato said the Assembly legislation includes a measure that would establish the State Interagency Coordinating Council for Service-Disabled Veterans, define the powers and duties of the council, and require an annual report. This council would play a critical role in helping vets who became disabled serving their country get the support and resources they need.
The disabled often face challenges, especially discrimination, when trying to enter the workforce, Pheffer Amato said, adding that the unemployment rate of people with disabilities is significantly higher than those without a disability. To address this, the Assembly also passed a measure that would establish a small business tax credit for the employment of people with disabilities.
“New Yorkers with disabilities have faced and overcome challenges many of us can’t even imagine,” Pheffer Amato added. “They embody our New York values of resilience, determination and perseverance. We must do everything in our power to ensure these individuals have the opportunity to live a full life and are treated with dignity and respect.”
Additionally this week, legislation that would increase public awareness of Down syndrome and fund research projects into the chromosomal disorder was recently approved by the full Senate and Assembly, according to State Sen. Joe Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach) and Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven), the measure’s sponsors.
“This bill authorizes the creation of distinctive Down Syndrome Awareness license plates for people in New York who want to spread the word about this condition,” Addabbo explained. “In addition, money raised from the sale of these license plates will be directed to a new Down Syndrome Research Fund. I am delighted that my Senate and Assembly colleagues recognize the importance of supporting individuals and families living with this disorder.”
Addabbo and Miller noted that the proposed law originated with a request made by a mutual constituent.
“I appreciated the support of my legislative colleagues who voted to pass this proposal, which has great potential to increase awareness of Down syndrome, add to scientific research about this condition, and highlight the many contributions that have been made, and are being made, by people born with Down’s,” Addabbo added.
The legislation has been sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office for his consideration.