Hello NYPTA member,
Well what can we say? What a successful Lobby Day 2013!!! I am happy to report that over 400 PTs , PTAs and students attended this year. We met with each and every NYS Legislator and the feedback was unanimously positive, which resulted in more widespread support of our legislation.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Legislative Liaisons for their extreme dedication and hard work which resulted in such a successful day and continues to drive the NYPTA legislative plan and its initiatives forward.
After a successful Lobby Day, a number of legislators agreed to sign on to both the Assembly and the Senate copay bills. In the Senate, 12 members are sponsors of the bill with 9 members signing on to the bill. In the Assembly, 66 members are sponsors of the bill with 12 signing on after Lobby Day. Consensus from Lobby Day participants is that the legislators were much more supportive of the issue than in previous years.
Additionally, Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski has introduced A.7293 (same as S.3555/Griffo), a bill which will allow physical therapist assistants to render care in the Workers’ Compensation system. The bill has 28 co-sponsors.
We are awaiting assignment of a bill number for the WC Rate Review bill, which will also be sponsored by Assemblyman Zebrowski. Once this occurs, APOL and the legislative liaisons will advise members on what actions need to be taken to move both bills forward.
New York Elected Officials Continue to be Charged With Corruption
While ethical violations and corruption charges have become an all too common occurrence around the State Capitol, this year has seen more than its fair share of scandal. Assemblyman Eric Stevenson was arrested for allegedly taking cash bribes from owners of social adult day care programs. Part of the evidence behind Mr. Stevenson’s arrest came from conversations that were taped by former Assemblyman Nelson Castro. As a part of a plea deal, Mr. Castro wore a wire for four years. Upon the arrest of Assemblyman Stevenson, Mr. Castro resigned his seat as part of a plea agreement to resolve unrelated perjury and election fraud charges.
The next scandal surrounded Senator Malcolm Smith’s failed attempt to secure the Republican nomination to run for Mayor of New York City, in which he allegedly took part willingly in a bribery scheme to secure the nomination. Next on the hit parade was Senator John Sampson who was recently arrested on charges, amongst other things, that he misappropriated money from the sale of property in his capacity as a court appointed referee. The most recent chapter is the announcement that former Shirley Huntley, who recently was sentenced to a year and a day prison term for improperly and illegally using State funds intended to be used for charitable purposes by an organization she controlled, had taped nine individuals, seven of whom were elected officials. Investigators have indicated that the recordings provided useful information on potential criminal activity of three of the nine recorded individuals which suggests more elected officials will be charged with corruption.
Finally, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (J-COPE) released this week a report summarizing the findings of sexual harassment in troubling details by Assemblyman Vito Lopez leading the Governor to call for Lopez’ resignation or expulsion from the State Assembly. Today, Speaker Sheldon Silver referred the findings of the report to the Assembly Ethics Committee which is anticipated to begin the process of expelling Assemblyman Lopez from the Assembly.
What does all of this mean other than a troubling demonstration of a lack of fundamental ethics for a significant number of legislators? First, it has and will leave the Legislature somewhat distracted as they digest the scandals and deal with the consequences, including the anticipated process to expel Assemblyman Lopez. Secondly, the Legislature and the Governor will attempt to reach agreement on some sort of ethical reforms in an attempt to address the situation recognizing that all of the scandals to date involve clearly illegal activity under the State’s current laws.
Legislature Gets Back to Business
The Legislature gets back to business next week after taking most of this week off due to the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. The legislative session will begin to gear up culminating in the “end of session” push where the majority of post budget bill movement takes place.
NYS Workers’ Compensation Board
As Chair of APOL, I attended a meeting held between the leadership of the NYS Workers' Compensation Board and the leadership of NYPTA. The meeting was very productive and began what we hope is an open and productive dialogue that can help NYPTA address and correct some of the issues that negatively impact the delivery of care to injured workers in New York State. Stay tuned for more details.
Thank you all for the support and let’s keep pushing our agenda forward.
Until next month, all the best,
Mike Mattia, PT DPT MS MHA
Chair, Advisory Panel on Legislation