Mayor de Blasio Signs Legislation Expanding Survivor Benefits And Strengthening Lead Laws

February 11, 2020

Today, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed Intro. 1785 to expand healthcare benefits to surviving family members of City employees who die in the line of duty or who die from a 9/11-related illness.

The bill fulfills the Mayor’s promise to close gaps in current law that left some families of City employees without equal benefits. The Mayor also signed five bills that will further reduce lead exposure in New York City, continuing the Administration’s commitment to eradicating lead health risks at their source and eliminating childhood lead exposure entirely.

“The families of city employees who make the ultimate sacrifice deserve to be taken care of by our city, now and always,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “In that same vein, to protect our most vulnerable, we are taking a Vision Zero approach to lead and making lead exposure a thing of the past. Together, these bills will make the city fairer for the families of our heroes and for the youngest New Yorkers.”

Intro. 1785, sponsored by Council Member Miller and introduced at the request of Mayor de Blasio, extends healthcare benefits to surviving family members of the following employees: 1) civilian employees who die in the line of duty as a result of a 9/11-related illness, regardless of whether death occurred while in active service or in retirement, 2) civilian employees who die from a non-9/11-related injury that is or was the natural and proximate result of an accident sustained while in the performance of duty, and 3) retired uniformed correction officers and uniformed sanitation workers who die while in retirement as a result of a 9/11-related illness. Under current law, survivor health benefits are provided if death occurs while in active service.

Intro. 420-B, sponsored by Council Member Constantinides, codifies Parks Department practice of testing soil for lead when conducting certain capital projects and remediating areas with soil lead levels above federal regulations. Applicable projects would include areas with exposed soil that are designated for active play or passive recreation.

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Intro. 873-A, sponsored by Council Member Chin, codifies current Department of Education practice of assessing school libraries, cafeterias, and gymnasiums annually for lead-based paint hazards and assessing classrooms three times a year – as well as making the information available to parents and the public. The bill also enables the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to issue violations to property owners who fail to address lead-based paint hazards in their housing units.

Intro. 891-A, sponsored by Council Member Levin, expands the definition of “multiple dwelling” under Local Law 1 to include 1-2 family homes.

Intro. 904-A, sponsored by Council Member Rivera, requires the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to investigate cases of Elevated Blood Lead Levels in pregnant people in order to identify potential sources of exposure. The bill also requires DOHMH to conduct follow-up screenings and inspections for the children of these individuals and to conduct outreach to new and expecting parents about the availability of lead inspections and testing.

Intro. 919-A, sponsored by Council Member Torres, requires independent, EPA-certified inspectors to investigate applicable dwelling units for the presence of lead-based paint hazards and to follow U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development guidelines.

“This legislation represents the City’s dedication to the municipal workers who make this great City run each day, especially those who answered the call on 9/11. Under this new law, we are providing additional peace of mind and truly honoring their service. I thank my colleagues, Speaker Johnson, and the Administration for supporting this legislation. All labor has dignity, and our municipal workers will now receive the support that they so richly deserve,” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller, Chair of the Committee on Civil Service and Labor.

“Lead has left a toxic legacy in New York City that haunts us whenever our children play in our Parks,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides, Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection. “With the passage of Intro. 420-B, we have a guarantee that any time the Parks Department conducts a major capital project, we ensure that soil is free of this potentially hazardous material. This will take us another step closer to a lead-free New York City.”

“Knowing that the air you and your child breathe is safe to breathe, whether at home or at school, is a fundamental right,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin. “By requiring the City to conduct regular lead inspections at schools and by strengthening enforcement mechanisms against landlords who fail to remediate lead upon turnover, Intro 873-A takes our City one step closer to zero lead. I thank Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Johnson and all the legislative staff for their work on this legislative package and their commitment to lead dust-free New York City.”

“I want to thank Mayor de Blasio for signing my bill, Intro 904, into law today. As Chair of the Council’s Women’s Caucus and Hospitals Committee, I know how important a healthy home and environment is to ensuring equitable pre and post-natal outcomes. No mother should be exposed to lead in our city, and my bill will ensure that thorough investigations are conducted when pregnant mothers test positive for lead exposure, any potential lead sources are found and fixed, and that family receive the resources they need,” said Council Member Carlina Rivera.

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