Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation championed by State Sen. Todd Kaminsky on Monday that will provide sick time to the people who worked on the rescue, recovery and cleanup after the World Trade Center attacks 16 years ago.
The bill — which applies to active police officers — helps ensure that they don’t “exhaust” their accrued personal time and experience financial penalties as a result of their efforts after the terrorist attacks.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to the first responders who put their lives and health on the line during and after the Sept. 11 attacks,” Kaminsky said in a statement.
“Far too many of the courageous first responders from those terrible attacks continue to battle cancer and other illnesses caused by the debris at Ground Zero. These heroes are faced with financial ruin, and even risk losing their jobs as they seek treatment, and that is no way for our state to treat them.”
Although the New York City Police and Fire Departments provide unlimited sick leave, Kaminsky said, first responders who served on Sept. 11 and left city agencies to pursue other public service opportunities on Long Island and elsewhere are ineligible for “line of duty” sick benefits.
Additionally, because their illnesses were contracted while employed by the city, their current municipal employers cannot treat their illnesses as “line of duty.”
The bill — which was sponsored by Senator Martin Golden — will require the state to “pick up the tab” for these rescuers’ sick days so they no longer use their accrued personal time.
The state senate unanimously passed the bill on June 21 and it was signed into law by Gov. Cuomo on Sept. 11 — the 16th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.