FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                              Diane Coleman (585) 546-7510

September 17, 2009                                                      





(Rochester, NY):  New Yorkers with disabilities were stunned last night when Governor Paterson vetoed not one, but two critical pieces of civil rights legislation.  “The Governor’s actions are deplorable,” said Chris Hilderbrant, Director of Advocacy for Center for Disability Rights.


One bill, A.781-B (Paulin)/S.5396 (Huntley), adds American with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title II language into state statute; clarifying the obligations of government officials and strengthening the civil rights protections for people with disabilities.  Advocates are appalled that the Governor would veto a bill that protects people with disabilities from discrimination on the basis of disability in services provided by public entities, including state and local governments.  The New York State Human Rights law contains some, but not all, of the protections under the ADA, which has resulted in confusion for entities trying to comply with both laws.  In the proposed bill, public entities would be required to make reasonable accommodations—the same accommodations already required by federal law—and individuals with disabilities would gain critical access to the administrative enforcement mechanisms through the State Division of Human Rights.  This bill imposes no new or additional requirements upon local governments or businesses.


The other bill, A.584-A (Cahill)/S.1058-A (Addabbo), will require all poll sites to comply with the accessibility guidelines of the ADA. Across the state, poll sites are notorious for violations of the ADA, infringing on people with disabilities’ right to vote. The new law will update state election law consistent with federal requirements, eliminate outdated waiver language, increase the likelihood of compliance, and increase procedures for enforcement. It will have limited fiscal impact. Inaccessible sites can either be moved, consolidated, or modifications can be made and counties can be reimbursed with State and Federal funds that already exist to address the issue through the State Board of Elections.


“By vetoing these bills, the Governor is denying millions of New Yorkers with disabilities fundamental civil rights,” said Bruce Darling, Executive Director of Center for Disability Rights.  “It is unbelievable that the Governor would veto two civil rights bills passed by a proportion of the Legislature sufficient to override a veto—bills that simply write existing federal rights into state law for clarification and enforcement.”


Disability advocates call on the New York State Legislature to override these vetoes and stand up for all New Yorkers with disabilities.


Override the veto of A.781-B (Paulin)/S.5396 (Huntley) to incorporate the provisions of Title II of the ADA into state law and strengthen protections for people with disabilities against discrimination in New York State!


The Center for Disability Rights, Inc. (CDR) is headquartered in Rochester, NY, with satellite offices in Geneva, NY and Corning, NY, and a policy office in Albany, NY. CDR is a statewide organization providing services and advocacy devoted to the integration, independence and civil rights of all people with all disabilities.