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.
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.
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"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.
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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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