With June—the last and most active month of the legislative session in Albany—fast approaching, the Legislative Affairs Department continues to advocate on behalf of the City Bar’s committees. While budget negotiations continue to loom large, we expect a push in the upcoming weeks as legislators try to steer their bills to passage.
With many legislative issues still to be resolved, the hard work of the City Bar’s committees has already had an impact this session. For example, the Council on Children wrote a report in support of A.8524/S.3868-A, which would authorize the Family Court, in certain situations, to restore a birth parent's parental rights after they have been terminated. This bill passed both houses of the legislature and will soon be sent to the Governor for his signature. Other bills that the Governor has acted on are:
• A.7729-D (AM Gottfried) / S.3164-B (Sen. Duane) – The Family Health Care Decisions Act has long been supported by the Committee on Health Law and the Committee on Bioethical Issues. After a 17-year effort to achieve this legislation, the Family Health Care Decisions Act was signed by the Governor on March 16. The new law will establish procedures for selecting and empowering a surrogate to make medical decisions for a patient who is incapacitated.
• A.5985-A (AM Glick) / S.3070-A (Sen. Krueger) – This legislation eliminates a 21-year limit that was placed on pet trusts. The new law removes any coverage limit and gives pet owners the option of having a trust last for the duration of their pet’s life. First proposed by the Committee on Legal Issues Pertaining to Animals in November 2008, this legislation was signed by Governor Paterson on May 5.
• A.7805-B (AM Weinstein) / S.58461-B (Sen. Schneiderman) – Signed by the Governor on April 14, this new law will replace the term “law guardian” with the term “attorney for the child” to more accurately reflect the attorney’s role as an advocate for the child. This bill was supported by the Council on Children.
• A.2873 (AM Weinstein) / S.2971 (Sen. Sampson) – This bill would require prior disclosure of income, assets, and financial obligations of decedent to enforce surviving spouse's waiver of right of election. The Committee on Trusts, Estates and Surrogate’s Courts opposed this legislation for a number of reasons, arguing that the statue would replace a well-established standard with language that was far too subjective and could invite vexatious litigation. The Governor was persuaded by these arguments and vetoed the legislation.
These bills represent only a sampling of the many pieces of legislation that City Bar committees have weighed in on. To learn more about the legislative agenda of the City Bar, please visit the newly launched Legislative Affairs page on the City Bar’s website. This portion of the website is designed to serve as an information source for members, legislators, and the public regarding the City Bar’s legislative activity in the New York State Legislature and New York City Council.