Assemblywoman Sarah Clark’s Trifecta of Bills Signed by Governor Hochul

Rochester, NY Today, Governor Hochul signed three bills introduced by Assemblywoman Sarah Clark (D-Rochester).

Assembly bill A.7721- Relates to the composition and obligations of the childcare availability taskforce and the focus of such taskforce.

This legislation tackles three important issues.First, it will examine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on childcare in our state to ensure that the childcare industry has an equitable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The taskforce will then advise the state on developing the framework for statewide universal childcare. Finally, the taskforce will recommend solutions to addressing the childcare workforce shortage and other issues that plague the industry.

Assemblywoman Sarah Clark said, “COVID-19 revealed the gaps in our childcare system that was already on life support, it also created new challenges for childcare providers, families and the workforce at large. We know the care ecosystem is in serious need of an overhaul.Continuing the work of the Child Care Availability Task Force, bringing the diverse voices of parents, providers, and stakeholders together, is how we get to a solution. Our original intent of the legislation was to make sure our childcare system would not collapse, but now with Governor Hochul’s commitment, we have also added the goal of Universal Child Care to the responsibility of the Task Force. I am excited for this first step, beyond ready for bold action and I know we will make this a reality for all.

“As a proud member of both the Task Force and the ESCCC, I am truly excited about this opportunity, said Jenn O’Connor, Director of Policy and Advocacy/NYS Director of the Home Visiting Coordination Initiative, PCANY. “When I became the coordinator of Winning Beginning NY – the State’s early care and learning coalition – nearly 15 years ago, we were having these same conversations about how to support children, families, and the workforce. Today, we finally have a path forward and a group charged with developing and implementing a plan of action. At Prevent Child Abuse NY (PCANY), we understand that quality childcare is a concrete support that helps reduce parental stress, which in turn decreases abuse. I am thankful for Governor Hochul’s commitment and to our legislative champions… and I am ready to get to work!”

Dede Hill, Policy Director Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy; Executive Committee Member, Empire State Campaign for Child Care said, “With the signing of this law, Governor Hochul and the New York Legislature publicly signal a commitment to bring universal childcare to New York, and to having childcare providers of all modalities, parents, unions, business and advocates at the table plotting the state’s course to this goal. This is a monumental achievement that would not have been won without the persistent efforts of New York childcare providers and parents who have demanded not just relief, but transformation. Based on my experience as a proud member of the Child Care Availability Task Force in its first three years, I believe continuing the Task Force will help ensure New York creates a truly equitable, high quality, childcare system for all New York children without delay.”

"Even before COVID, affordable and equitable access to high quality childcare was just an aspiration for all too many New York families,” said Larry Marx, CEO of The Children’s Agenda. “Now it is a moral and economic imperative. Turning the Task Force's 2021 report into reality requires sustained coordination across state agencies and between state and county governments. As a former appointee, I am grateful to the Governor, Senator Brisport, and Assembly Member Clark for extending the charge and diversifying the composition of the Task Force with people with lived experience. The Children’s Agenda is thrilled that the Task Force will be integral to plans for rolling out universal childcare. We pledge our full support to that task.”

A.7721-A was introduced by Assemblywoman Clark in May 2021 and passed the Assembly in June 2021. The companion bill in the Senate was carried by Senator Jabari Brisport (D-Brooklyn).

Assemblywoman Sarah Clark (D-Rochester) and Senator Tim Kennedy (D-Buffalo) announced the signing of A.7506/S.3536A, known as Bryce's Law, by Governor Kathy Hochul.

This legislation requires grease traps at food service establishments to be designed to withstand expected loads and prevent unauthorized access. On July 15, 2019, 3-year-old Bryce Raynor fell through an unsecured plastic lid that covered an underground grease trap outside of Tim Hortons. Although he was pulled from the grease trap minutes later, he did not survive. This legislation will help prevent future tragedies like this one by amending executive law and public authorities law to require accessible grease traps and interceptors be secure and adequately marked with warning signs and symbols.

Assemblywoman Sarah Clark said, "With stronger building code protocols in place, Bryce Raynor’s death in 2019 could have been avoided. This unthinkable tragedy should never have happened, and Bryce’s Law is one step we must take to enhance workplace safety.But as a mom of three, I also recognize we must do more to support our families, especially ensuring that childcare is affordable and accessible for all. Today my thoughts are with Bryce’s mom and family and I thank Governor Hochul for signing this legislation into law. Tomorrow we begin the fight for universal childcare. We can ensure this type of tragedy will never happen again in our community and throughout New York."

Senator Tim Kennedy said, "These commonsense reforms are designed to ensure that no other families have to endure the sort of unimaginable heartbreak that Bryce's family did, and will prioritize public safety and regulation of these interceptors moving forward. I want to thank Governor Hochul for signing this important legislation into law, and Assemblymember Clark for carrying this bill in the Assembly. Today is a day to honor the memory of Bryce Raynor, and I hope his family can take some comfort knowing that this tragic loss has led to real policy changes in our state."

"I am grateful that the State has taken this step to try to prevent these types of accidents,” said Bryce’s Mother, Tenitia Cullum. “I appreciate that the Law bears Bryce's name. There is not a day that goes by that I don't feel his loss, I hope that this legislation prevents any other families from having to suffer this way."

“I want to thank Assemblywoman Clark for her continued work on this bill,” said Monroe County Clerk Jamie Romeo, “and while this is an important step to create greater workplace safety and accountability, my thoughts remain with Bryce’s mother and loved ones. An unimaginable tragedy led us to this piece of legislation, Bryce’s Law and I hope that the impact of this law carries on in his name and memory. A few seconds created a lifetime of unspeakable pain, but today, we can take an important step towards preventing another tragedy in the future. I applaud the Legislature for passing the bill and give many thanks to Governor Hochul for signing Bryce’s Law.”

A.7506 was originally introduced in 2019 by then-Assemblywoman Jamie Romeo. After making some changes, moving enforcement from the Department of Health into Building Codes, the legislation was then reintroduced by Assemblywoman Clark in 2021, and was unanimously passed in the Assembly in June. The companion bill in the Senate was carried by Senator Tim Kennedy (D-Buffalo).

Today, Assemblywoman Sarah Clark and Senator Rachel May announced the signing of A.5436B/S.612B, also known as the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program Reform Act by Governor Hochul.

This legislation strengthens the New York State Ombudsman Program (LTCOP) and addresses issues within the program that have been exacerbated since the COVID-19 pandemic began. New York State’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP) was established more than four decades ago as part of the federal Older Americans Act. Its primary purpose is to advocate “for residents by investigating and resolving complaints made by or on behalf of residents; promoting the development of resident and family councils; and informing government agencies, providers, and the general public about issues and concerns impacting residents of long-term care facilities.”

Assemblywoman Clark said, “New York State's Long-term Care Ombudsman Program has one primary purpose, to advocate for residents in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, but far too often complaints and calls go unanswered or face lengthy delays. This legislation will make the Ombudsman program more effective first by increasing the number of volunteers through education, promotion and recruitment. Second, enforcing a stronger line of communication between the program’s staff and volunteers and the Department of Health that investigate and resolve complaints. And last by ensuring that all long-term care facilities include ombudsmen in their pandemic plans, allowing residents to have an advocate at all times. The need to reform this program was exacerbated throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as shocking data and nursing homes deaths revealed that the former program was not working as well as it was intended. The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program Reform Act strengthens the current program so that we can better protect our seniors and most vulnerable populations."

Senator May said, ​​"The Long-term Care Ombudsman Program is a vital resource and lifeline for nursing home residents and their loved ones. While the program has existed for a long time, we continue to see that many residents are unaware of it and the role it can play in advocating on behalf of residents’ well-being. By strengthening this program, we will guarantee that resident advocates have more tools to help protect nursing home residents. I thank the Governor for signing this bill, and Assemblymember Clark for her collaboration. I look forward to continuing working with them to continue improving the program."

Ann Marie Cook, President of Lifespan of Greater Rochester said, “I would like to sincerely thank Assemblymember Sarah Clark for her sponsorship of this extremely important legislation. The pandemic revealed so many cracks in our long-term care system. We saw time and time the need for an advocate so residents have a voice. They deserve support so that quality of life and quality of care issues can be addressed. The goal of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is to ensure older adults can age with dignity. This legislation strengthens the Ombudsman role so that older New Yorkers can live a high quality of life regardless of the setting.”

A.5436B/S.612B passed in the state legislature in May. This legislation tackles three important issues. First it will promote awareness and education of the program to recruit and expand the number of volunteers currently serving as Ombudsman. Creates strong oversight between the program’s staff and volunteers and the Department of Health that oversees the facilities. Those agencies would then be required to notify ombudsman staff and volunteers in a timely manner of any complaints received concerning the facility and the resolution of any issues. And finally require that residential health care facilities' pandemic emergency plan include a method to provide all residents with access to ombudsman staff and volunteers.