Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara announced that he helped pass a legislative package today to bolster anti-discrimination protections for New Yorkers with disabilities and improve their access to vital resources. These measures were passed in honor of this year’s Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day.
“Helping people with developmental disabilities like my son, Michael, thrive is the most rewarding and important work I do,” Santabarbara said. “Everyone has the right to live their life with dignity and be treated with respect. This legislation helps ensure that New Yorkers with disabilities have every opportunity to live healthy, independent lives and work toward achieving their goals.”
Far too often, people with disabilities are hastily judged and not given a fair chance when pursuing jobs, Santabarbara noted. To encourage employers to give people with disabilities equal consideration, the Assembly passed a bill that would establish a small-business tax credit for employing these individuals (A.8996).
To protect an employee’s ability to defend themselves against injustices, Santabarbara helped pass legislation that would restore the rights of state employees to sue New York State for damages due to violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (A.1092). Additionally, to help ensure individuals with disabilities have equal opportunities in their communities, a measure would re-establish the Office of the Advocate for People with Disabilities (A.9004).
Other measures included in the legislative package would:
- create a tax credit for new or retrofitted principal residences that are universally designed to be accessible and adaptable housing (A.9005);
- require public officers and public bodies to provide interpreters and assistive listening devices for deaf or hard of hearing individuals at public hearings under certain conditions (A.3385-A);
- clarify that “reasonable accommodation” to enable a person with a disability to use and enjoy a dwelling includes the use of an animal to alleviate the symptoms or effects of a disability (A.7331);
- aid localities in preparing for and responding to disasters by requiring counties with local emergency management plans to maintain a voluntary, confidential registry of people of all ages with disabilities who may need evacuation assistance and shelter during a disaster (A.3923); and
- require local social services districts, after considering certain factors, to give controlling weight to a recipient/applicant’s regular physician’s opinion when determining potential work limitations or exemptions due to a disability (A.8994).
The legislative package builds upon measures that Santabarbara has championed to ensure those with disabilities receive equal and fair treatment. Santabarbara, who serves as chair of the Assembly Subcommittee on Autism Spectrum Disorders, authored the state’s first Autism Action Plan to expand opportunities and resources for individuals with autism (Ch. 469 of 2016). As a member of the Assembly Mental Health Committee, Santabarbara will continue to fight for increased access to vital mental health services and protections for all New Yorkers.
Angelo L. Santabarbara is a Democratic member of the New York State Assembly representing 111th New York State Assembly District, which comprises all of Montgomery County and parts of Schenectady and Albany Counties.