Fax from Albany
June 18, 2004
Board Members, Affiliate Executive Directors, Interested Parties
Joseph A. Glazer, Esq., President/CEO
(518) 434-0439 ext. 20
Keeps on Ticking: There are only two session days left in this year’s
regular Legislative Session, and Timothy’s Law has moved its way
into the limelight.
are proceeding between the two houses at a fast and furious pace, and
both sides have expressed a desire to come to an agreement on Timothy’s
Law this year. The Assembly has already passed Timothy’s Law (A.8301/S.5329).
As was reported last week, the Senate has expressed an unwillingness to
pass Timothy’s Law (S.5329), and has instead introduced another
version of mental health parity (S.7296-a) that would exempt business
with 50 or fewer employees, cover a very limited number of illnesses,
and exclude parity based coverage for chemical dependency. One of the
numerous illnesses that the Senate bill (S.7296-a) excludes is Post-Traumatic
Stress Disorder (PTSD), which means that it would not cover survivors
of September 11, among others.
Tom O’Clair has declared that the Senate bill (S.7296-a) is not
Timothy’s Law, it was reported in last week’s Albany Times
Union that Senator Joseph Bruno was calling the Senate’s version
of the bill Timothy’s Law in a letter to his constituents (see article
below). When asked about this incident, his colleague, Senator Tom Libous,
the sponsor of both the new bill (S.7296-a) and Timothy’s Law (S.5329),
said, "In the generic, everyone is calling it Timothy's Law. It's
a mental health parity bill. Unfortunately, that is what happens when
you name laws after individuals."
last week’s article, it was reported by CapitolWire today
that Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno has identified Timothy’s
Law as among the many pieces of legislation that he would like to see
resolved. However, he went on to note that if negotiations do not result
in action, “…we're going to pass a number of these bills so
the constituency knows where we stand."
is evidenced by the O’Clair family’s refusal to identify S.7296-a
as Timothy’s Law and their comments in last week’s article,
it is clear that there is no ‘generic’ version of Timothy’s
Law, and advocates and the O’Clair’s continue to maintain
that Timothy’s Law is A.8301/ S.5329.
now need to send a message to Senator Bruno that we want him to pass Timothy’s
Law (S.5329), not a watered down version that does not cover 80% of New
Yorkers. Tom O’Clair has made it clear that the Senate’s current
stance on mental health parity is “a far cry from Timothy’s
Law”, and after last week’s incident with the Senate choosing
to call their bill Timothy’s Law, it is more important than ever
that we send the message that they need to pass, S5329.
else is just smoke and mirrors.
- Call Senator Bruno’s office every day – (518) 455-3191
- Call Senator Libous’ office every day – (518) 455-2677
- Call your Senator every day using the Senate switchboard –
- E-mail these same Senators – http://www.mhanys.org/policy/advtlc.php
Demand that the Senate not come home
without passing Timothy’s Law!!
Please, Do it for Timothy…
Law' mailing criticized. By James M. Odato
Albany Times Union, June 11, 2004
Parents protest use of son's name in GOP letter touting Senate version
The parents of Timothy O'Clair say they're offended that state Senate
Republicans are using their son's name on a revised mental health bill
they don't support.
O'Clairs, who back an Assembly bill that would require insurers to pick
up costs of mental health and substance abuse treatments, objected Thursday
to letters sent out by Senate Republicans to constituents touting their
"Timothy's Law" legislation.
Majority Leader Joseph Bruno used the boy's name twice in a June 7 letter
to a Ballston Spa constituent. The letters say the Senate version "would
provide parity in insurance coverage for mental illnesses."
do not have my or my wife's blessing in referring to it as Timothy's Law,"
said Tom O'Clair, of Rotterdam. He said it appears Republicans are trying
to gain approval from their constituents.
and other advocates of the measure that was passed the last two years
in the Assembly do not consider the Senate version worthy of Timothy's
name. Under the Senate version, only "biologically based mental illnesses"
and children with attention deficit or disruptive behavior disorder would
have to be covered by employer health plans.
recipient Mary Jean Coleman, who is executive director of Samaritan Suicide
Prevention Center, was also upset.
was infuriated because not only does it refer to Timothy's Law, but as
a constituent ... if I was an average citizen, I would view it as Senator
Bruno putting out a letter to his constituents that the Senate is doing
some wonderful thing."
do not view this as Timothy's Law," she said, adding that she was
also distressed that the O'Clairs' last name was misspelled.
sponsor Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, said the Senate's bill "is their
version of parity, but it's not Timothy's Law."
and Sen. Thomas Libous, R-Binghamton, have been working on ways to address
the parity issue for two years. Libous said Thursday he is confident an
agreement will be reached because talks are going on at high levels of
for Bruno's use of Timothy's name, he said: "In the generic, everyone
is calling it Timothy's Law. It's a mental health parity bill. Unfortunately,
that is what happens when you name laws after individuals."
spokesman for Bruno said the Senate "is very sensitive to the concerns
raised in this issue; it's something we are committed to addressing."
Senate has been trying to avoid a sweeping measure that would cause insurance
premiums to rise substantially. The Senate would allow exemptions, including
one for employers with fewer than 51 employees. The Assembly's "Timothy's
Law" would mandate coverage for substance abusers as well as mentally
Leaders Say They Want to Pass a Few Important Bills by Tuesday. No deal
on budget, CFE. By Kyle Hughes
Capitol Wire, June 17, 2004
Gov. George Pataki and legislative leaders declared today they would try
to pass at least a few important bills before adjourning on June 22. They
said they remain deadlocked over the budget and CFE.
the second leaders meeting in three days, they said they still cannot
reach three-way deals on a $100 million state budget or a unified response
to the July 30 court-imposed deadline for fixing the school funding formula.
When Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno and Assembly Speaker Sheldon
Silver announced they hoped to pass a few bills of substance by Tuesday,
reporters concluded that they were anxious to avoid leaving town without
acting on any major legislation this session.
is sending the Senate and Assembly emergency spending bill to keep government
operating until Aug. 1, and no return for session is contemplated until
the July 30 Campaign for Fiscal Equity CFE court decision deadline looms.
Majority Leader Joseph Bruno said the bills he was focusing on for passage
before the final gavel falls Tuesday were Rockefeller Drug Laws, HAVA
voting reform, Timothy's Law, power plant siting, Patriot Act II, Anti-Terrorism
II, and money laundering.
drug laws reform measure was the biggest item on the agenda. Legislators
have been trying without success for years to change the laws, and convened
a conference committee that worked fruitlessly on the issue this session.
But Bruno said now "we think we're close enough so that we can conclude
three ways and do it by Tuesday. That would be historic."
said reaching agreements on bills that until now have remained side issues
in the budget, healthcare and education debate may be difficult. "Frankly
if we can't agree three ways we're going to pass a number of these bills
so the constituency knows where we stand."
another big issue that was in play until this week, Bruno said he would
not support weakening the indoor smoking ban law. "We did the smoking
bill to begin with because about 430,000 people a year die from smoking
& smoking kills," Bruno said.
had little to say about a stem cell research bill such as the one that
passed the Assembly Thursday. "We don't want to inhibit what's going
on," he said.
Speaker Sheldon Silver told reporters that his list of bill to do before
Tuesday was Rockefeller Drug Laws, HAVA and Timothy's Law. "I'm confident
we can get a lot of the substance done by the close of business next Tuesday,"
blamed Pataki for the nonproductive nature of the 2004 session. He described
the atmosphere as "contentious, politically partisan from the second
floor, specifically. Some of the rhetoric has been more partisan than
it has ever been before."
called the session "abysmal. Simple basic proposals that are uncontroversial
have lapsed and lingered in the Assembly."
would just hope over the course of the next five days, we will be able
to shut down a lot of these discussions and see results," Pataki
said. He said about two dozen non-controversial but important bills are
awaiting passage in the Assembly.
secretary Joe Conway later handed out to reporters a list of 15 bills
that passed the Senate this year with no Assembly action to date:
Patriot Plan II (S.6464) * Anti-terrorism II (S.3-A) * Expanded DNA database
(S.5554) * Eliminating statute of limitations for rape and violent felonies
(S.5554) * Gun trafficking S.3508-A) * Pena-Herrera DWI reform (S.4869-A)
* Deadly drivers (S.6541) * Tamiqua's Law (life without parole for child
murder S.5388-A) * Civil commitment of sex offenders (S.5556) * Megan's
Law enhancements (S.6624) * Gang rape (S.5396-A) * Repeat misdemeanors
(S.5555) * Child pornography (S.5707-A).
next time, we remain,
Working to ensure available and accessible
mental health services for all New Yorkers