Nearly 20 years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato passed legislation that would revive and extend the September 11th Workers Protection Task Force. The task force was a key component of New York’s landmark 2005 legislation creating pension benefits for first responders who participated in the rescue, recovery and cleanup at Ground Zero.
First set to expire in 2010, it was extended many times, most recently in 2015. In recent years it has become dormant and has taken little action. The legislation, introduced by Pheffer Amato and Brooklyn state Senator Andrew Gounardes, reauthorizes the task force until 2025 and seeks to revitalize it by refreshing appointments, expanding the areas of study, and setting a biannual meeting requirement to accompany the provision that the task force deliver reports on its findings to the governor, Senate and Assembly by June 1 each year.
“Last year, the Legislature worked tirelessly to ensure that all 9/11 first responders received the benefits they were not only entitled to but deserve, we began to reform the NYCERS board by increasing the number of physicians who could take on cases, and we finally provided unlimited sick leave to those battling for their lives as a result of 9/11 illnesses,” Pheffer Amato said. “Now, we’re taking another major step in that direction. The reinstatement of this task force will allow us to identify more people that we can help, and more lives that we can potentially save. I’m thankful for Senator Gounardes’ partnership in helping pass many of these bills, and I look forward to seeing the great work this Task Force produces.”
The bill passed both chambers and will be sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk for signature.
“While we have made progress to protect first responders who were not originally covered, we have a long way to go before we achieve full benefits and assistance for all those who answered the call to action on 9/11 and in the days afterward,” Gounardes said. “This Task Force will help us fill in the gaps in worker protections and address those issues that still remain decades after the 9/11 attack.”