Governor Hochul signs legislation ensuring benefits to 9/11 first responders

NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York Governor Kathy Hochul has announced new legislation aimed at ensuring all 9/11 first responders have access to benefits.

On Saturday, Hochul marked 20 years since the September 11th attacks by signing three pieces of legislation to ensure that all first responders who were involved in the World Trade Center rescue, recovery and cleanup operations can access benefits available to them.
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New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced the signing of legislation that will ensure benefits to all first responders involved with 9/11.



The governor says the bills make it easier for first responders to apply for benefits by both expanding the criteria for defining World Trade Center first responders and allowing online submissions of notice that members of a retirement system were involved in the operations.

RELATED | 'Eyewitness to 9/11: Behind the Lens' reveals untold stories, rare video of America's darkest day
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On the 20th anniversary of 9/11, we hear from the Eyewitness News journalists who were there, in the streets, in the air, and in the newsroom, reporting on the events as the tragedy unfolded, capturing the unforgettable video of that day, and risking their lives to tell the world what was happening.



"These laws will help not only first responders who were at the World Trade Center on that terrible day and those who cleaned the site for weeks afterward, but also the emergency dispatchers and communications personnel who keep us safe today," Hochul said. "We will ensure they receive the support and benefits they deserve."

Here's how each bill is broken down:
-- Legislation (S.4961-B/A.6384-A) - Expands the criteria that define first responders who participated in World Trade Center rescue.

-- Legislation (S.7009/A.6934-A) - Allows for electronic submission of a notice that a member of a retirement system participated in WTC Rescue.

-- Legislation (S.7121/A.7366-A) - Defines a "first responder in communications" as an individual who is a public safety dispatcher, emergency responder, emergency operator, emergency complaint operator and emergency services dispatcher who meets minimum requirements by local government.


Hochul also proposed legislation to allow National Guard members to qualify as veterans under New York State law.

RELATED | How reporter N.J. Burkett and his photographer escaped Twin Towers collapse
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Eyewitness News reporter N.J. Burkett and photographer Marty Glembotzky rushed down to the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. While shooting a standup right below the burning towers, the first tower began to collapse.



Shel also issued a citation honoring members of the New York National Guard for their exemplary service both during and after the events of September 11, 2001.

"Many New York National Guard members who responded on 9/11 are not eligible for important support services and valuable federal and state benefits because they were called to duty that day by a state emergency order and not on federal active duty," Hochul said. "On the 20th anniversary of 9/11, I am introducing legislation that will ensure that all of the National Guard members who were ordered into service at Ground Zero, and who have not otherwise earned Veteran status through federal activation, are fully recognized as Veterans under New York State law. The New York National Guard was there for us on that dark day, and we will be there for them."

Over 6,700 New York State National Guard members were called to serve in response to and recovery from the attack on September 11th. This is the first time in the state's history National Guard members are being recognized for that service 20 years ago.

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