Cuomo passes new laws to help 9/11 first responders

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs a package of bills to help first responders and civilian employees alongside Assemblymember David Weprin and Stacey Pheffer Amato, State Sens. Joseph Addabbo, Andrew Gounardes, James Gaughran, Assemblymembers Peter Abbate Jr. and Karin Reyes. Photo courtesy of Weprin’s Office.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs a package of bills to help first responders and civilian employees alongside Assemblymember David Weprin and Stacey Pheffer Amato, State Sens. Joseph Addabbo, Andrew Gounardes, James Gaughran, Assemblymembers Peter Abbate Jr. and Karin Reyes. Photo courtesy of Weprin’s Office.

By Victoria Merlino

Eighteen years after the day that changed the course of U.S. history, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a suite of bills intended to help some of 9/11’s biggest heroes: uniformed first responders and civilian public workers.

"9/11 was not 18 years ago — 9/11 is every day. We honor, we remember and we reflect, but it's also our duty to act," Cuomo said in a statement. "The 100,000 brave men and women who showed up to help on 9/11 deserve to be taken care of the way they took care of us, and we're not going to leave them alone because they are American heroes.”

The bills make it easier for first responders to apply for disability pensions and receive disability benefits, as well as make it easier for affected families to file for an accidental death benefit. Cuomo also signed a bill on Sept. 9 that allows for a brief moment of silence in public schools at the beginning of the day each Sept. 11. 

Cuomo also honored Det. Luis Alvarez, an NYPD detective who famously pushed for Congress to make the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund perement. He died from colorectal cancer complications, which he developed during his work as a first responder at the World Trade Center. His funeral was held in Astoria in July. 

Queens State Sen. Joseph Addabbo, Jr., and Assemblymembers Stacey Pheffer Amato and David Weprin were major forces behind some of the bills. 

"I am grateful for Governor Cuomo's approval of my 9/11 observance bill,” said Addabbo, who sponsored the bill regarding the moment of silence in schools, in a statement.

“I am hopeful that this new law will mean that the significance of the tragic events of September 11th, whether it be the loss of loved ones or the largest rescue operation our nation ever witnessed, will be forever acknowledged by school students too young to have witnessed this life-changing day," he continued.

“Southern Queens and Rockaway faced an enormous loss of life following 9/11, and I believe that it is our responsibility to protect those that bravely and unselfishly protected us, and these laws accomplish just that,” said Pheffer Amato, who sponsored the observance bill in the Assembly, in a statement.