Gov. Hochul signs emergency contacts bill


Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a legislative package, consisting of four pieces of legislation, intended to ensure tenants’ safety during certain emergencies. Among those four bills packaged together and signed on Nov. 17, was one sponsored by Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and state Sen. Shelley Mayer.

In a news release shared by Hochul, her administration explains how the bill requires owners of multifamily rental buildings to provide names and contact information of all their building tenants when requested by emergency services personnel who are responding to an emergency, whether it be a fire or gas leak.

“When firefighters and other other emergency personnel are called upon to respond to a fire or other crisis, their responsibilities include ensuring that everyone is safely evacuated from the building. This task can be especially challenging when a fire occurs in an apartment building,” Dinowitz stated in the release. “However, this law will make it significantly easier for emergency personnel to have the information necessary to ensure that all residents are accounted for when a tragedy occurs.”

Mayer stated that she introduced the legislation following a fire in Yonkers, where first responders had difficulty confirming the whereabouts of residents at a co-op because there was no list of people who lived in the building.

Now an owner must obtain specific and informed written consent from tenants when creating these lists. The lists may only be used for emergencies and whenever an owner enters into, renews, or modifies a lease they must update the list. The release stated that public housing authorities can update the list upon annual recertification of eligibility for public housing and therefore not cause undue administrative burden.

Among the other legislation in the package was one requiring New York City Housing Authority to give residents timely notice when water is not safe for drinking or cooking, one that allows the executor of a deceased tenant to terminate their lease, and another that prohibits installing certain security devices that control access to common areas of a residence without written permission.

Plain language ballot bill signed

In an effort to make it easier for New York residents to understand proposed constitutional amendments and other questions presented to voters on the ballot, Gov. Kathy Hochul has signed legislation that requires questions be written in plain language.

“Generations of Americans have fought for the right to vote, and New York is doing our part to ensure access to the ballot box is fair and equitable,” Gov. Hochul said in a news release. “I proudly signed the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of New York into law last year, and am pleased to enact this new legislation which will ensure New Yorkers are informed and protected when they cast their vote on proposed constitutional amendments.”

The goal of the legislation is to write questions, like proposed constitutional amendments, at or below an eighth grade reading level and also be written in a Yes or No format.

The release explained how dense and complicated language on the ballot only leaves voters confused about their decision, and turned them off from voting on them. The use of plain language on the ballot, the release says, will help empower New York residents in casting their votes.

Gov. Kathy Hochul, emergency contacts, Jeffrey Dinowitz, New York City Housing Authority, plain language ballots, John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act