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NYS transportation bill in need of lobbying, in danger of sitting in committee for one year

Posted at 6:53 PM, Dec 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-17 10:32:32-05

ERIE COUNTY, N.W. (WKBW) — The fate of a New York State transportation bill is in jeopardy.

Senate bill S5092 and assembly bill A3181-A are sitting in the New York State senate committee. The purpose is to provide people with disabilities the ability to have a wider radius of transportation through paratransit.

Currently, the routes are only 3/4 of a mile, and are set to shorten.

The bill would extend the routes to three miles allowing for people with disabilities, including veterans, to continue with their daily jobs and activities.

Time is ticking for a transportation bill to gain traction in the state senate.

"What New York State is going to understand in the future is that Stephanie is not asking to get this bill passed. We passed the American Disability Act and when that bill passed, it related to transportation. It was passed to bring integration of people with disabilities into the community. That means opportunities for jobs, employment, opportunities for education," Erie County clerk, Mickey Kearns said.

The requires accessible buses to be available within a service area measuring three miles from any bus stop. With the help of Kearns, Erie County resident, Stephanie Speaker, has been spearheading the bill to help the disabilities community.

Speaker is now lobbying to have New York State residents call their local law makers to co-sponsor the bill.

"If I don't get the supporters I need, or talk to my supporters, he has to keep my bill in another in the assembly, in the transportation committee. It's already been eight years. Because Mickey got that bill started in 2014," disabilities advocate, Stephanie Speaker said.

If passed by the senate, the bill would named "Stephanie's Law", after Stephanie herself, however, it has been sitting in committee for the last 8 years, and Speaker said further delays would would be detrimental.

Speaker said, "When they cut those routes, that upsets me because first of all, you depend on transportation because your mom and dad are not going to be living forever, so I depend on that transportation for them to take me places."

"It is not about the popularity of the bill. The NFTA, the State of New York and the federal government have mandated. There is a requirement. Stephanie has a right and people with disabilities have a right to transportation. I am going to go on the record right now and say that the excuses for non-passes of this bill or noncompliance with federal law are over," Kearns said.

In the meantime, Kearns said this kind of a delay is unacceptable and plans to take legal action.

Kearns said, "There will be no more excuses anymore. I am hopeful that New York State will do the right thing and pass this bill. If not, there will be a lawsuit filed, and I will personally work with Stephanie personally on that and I will find someone to file that lawsuit. We know that there has been damages done to people with disabilities. It is a fact. It is on the record. There are people that have been left in the cold. Unacceptable."

Note: 7ABC was told New Yorkers have until Jan. 10, 2022 to lobby support for the bill and get lawmakers to take action, otherwise it will sit in the committee for a year. However, after speaking with Senator Tim Kennedy's and Representative Phil Steck's office, that is not the case. The bill can be moved in committee at any time within a legislative session. Essentially, the bill needs to be moved out of committee and onto the floor before it can be voted on, by June.