Disability Legislative Day to be Held 2/11/15

ARISE’s annual trip to Albany for Disability Legislative Day is just around the corner. This year, the all-day trip is scheduled for Wednesday, February 11th, 2015.

Legislative Day gives us an opportunity to sit down with each of our elected officials from the state Senate and Assembly. We use this opportunity to inform them of the changes we would like to see and the legislation passed. This legislation will help people with disabilities break down the barriers that make it difficult to live an independent life in the community.

Members of the Syracuse Consumer Council are getting a head start on Legislative Day. Agnes McCray, Marilyn North, Beata Karpinska-Prehn and Phil Prehn have already met with two of our local representatives here in Syracuse to discuss specific legislation concerning visitable homes A visitable home is a house with one no-step entrance, wider interior doorways and an accessible bathroom on the first floor. Homes that are visitable allow everyone to gain access, whether they are a person with a disability or their family and friends. It also allows people to stay in their homes as they age, rather than being forced out of a home they can no longer manage to use.

There are two bills currently being considered in Albany on visitability and ARISE would like to see both passed during the next session of the Legislature. The first bill would require minimum visitability requirements for all new houses built using state or federal financing. The second bill would create a tax credit for homeowners either building a new house or putting in new accessibility features in an older home.

On December 9th, our ARISE team visited NY State Senator John DeFrancisco. After meeting with ARISE, the senator agreed to become the main sponsor of the visitability tax credit bill in the Senate during the next session. This was important since the bill has passed the Senate in each of the past two years, but the main sponsor is no longer in the Senate, having lost his re-election campaign in November.

In addition, Sen. DeFrancisco agreed to study the bill mandating visitability requirements for new construction. The bill’s current main sponsor in the Senate is a Democrat. Now that the Republicans are the majority in the Senate, it is important to get prominent Republicans to co-sponsor the bill.

On December 16th, the same ARISE team visited Assemblyman Magnarelli to discuss both visitability bills. The visitability bill for new construction is currently without a sponsor in the Assembly because last year’s sponsor retired. ARISE asked the Assemblyman to sponsor the bill. Assembly man Magnarelli believes that another sponsor has already been found, but he will gladly join on as a co-sponsor.

The Assemblyman also agreed to co-sponsor the legislation creating a tax credit for homeowners incorporating visitability features in either new construction or rehabilitation. The Assemblyman stated he would contact the bill’s current sponsor to see how he could help further this bill.

ARISE works for freedom and accessibility for all—help make that dream a reality. If you are interested in going with us to Albany for Legislative Day on Wednesday February 11, 2015, please contact Phil Prehn, Statewide Systems Advocate in ARISE’s Syracuse office 315-671-4658 or pprehn@ariseinc.org