There are two bills that have been introduced in the current session regarding LOSAP. One appears to be on track to be passed by both houses in 2021. They both would impact only volunteer firefighter LOSAPs adopted pursuant to Article 11-A, not volunteer ambulance squad plans governed by Articles 11-AA and 11-AAA. The purpose of this post is to examine one that is making some progress.
This bill would extend the maximum years of service credit that can be earned by a participant from 40 to 50 years. A similar bill was introduced in 2019 and 2020. Both times the bills were passed by the Senate but died in committee in the Assembly. That version of the bill simply crossed out the word "forty" and replaced it with "fifty".
This current bill was introduced as S1091 & A2239, with the same proposed change. However, on March 22, 2021, the Senate version was amended and reprinted as S1091-A. It is currently in the third reading, which is the last step before a vote and potential passage by the Senate. In the Assembly, the bill was amended and reprinted as A2239-A, and then recommitted to the local government committee. The amendment is what makes us think this bill is likely to pass both houses in 2021.
The amendment adds additional language that fleshes out the details of how a sponsor would implement an amendment to increase the service cap. The new law provides that a sponsor can:
When discussing with clients the original version of the bill that simply replaced forty with fifty, there were two recurring questions: (1) is it mandatory for plans to increase to the 50-year maximum, and (2) if it is not mandatory, is a referendum required? We believe both of these questions are now answered - it is not mandatory and yes, a referendum is required. By removing these two ambiguities, the legislature seems to understand these clarifications were necessary before the bill became law. This appears to be a positive sign that the bill is tracking towards law in 2021.
If you'd like to read the bill, you can download a PDF here:
We'll comment on the other bill in a future post.
This pandemic has required us to change our behavior and routine in ways most of us have never experienced. Although not very significant, we would have never guessed that we'd be studying Executive Orders issued by the Governor in order to track how that might impact LOSAP. But here we are!
If you have any questions about the Executive Orders, or anything in this article, we recommend you forward a copy to your attorney before any action is taken. This article is not meant to be legal advice and you should seek it out before making any decisions.
The legislation that allows LOSAP sponsors to award up to five (5) points per month during the COVID-19 pandemic is tied to Executive Order 202. Therefore, it would seem the ability for sponsors to continue to award points for cancelled events or modified response protocols is contingent on the continued state disaster emergency.
Executive Order 202.92 clearly extended the emergency until February 26, 2021. You can view the order by clicking HERE. The applicable language is:
Therefore, pursuant to the authority vested in me by the Constitution of the State of New York and Section 28 of Article 2-B of the Executive Law, I hereby continue for thirty days the declaration of the State Disaster Emergency effective March 7, 2020, as set forth in Executive Order 202. This Executive order shall remain in effect through February 26, 2021.
Executive Order 202.96 then clearly seems to extend the emergency until March 28, 2021. You can view that order by clicking HERE. Again, the applicable language is:
Therefore, pursuant to the authority vested in me by the Constitution of the State of New York and Section 28 of Article 2-B of the Executive Law, I hereby continue for thirty days the declaration of the State Disaster Emergency effective March 7, 2020, as set forth in Executive Order 202. This Executive order shall remain in effect through March 28, 2021;
There have been two subsequent Orders - 202.97 (to read click HERE) and 202.98 (to read click HERE).
The language of these Orders are slightly different, and they do not specifically state that the Emergency is extended. Instead, they state the following (from 202.98):
...do hereby continue the suspensions and modifications of law, unless superseded, modified or otherwise expired, made by Executive Order 202 and each successor Executive Order to 202, for thirty days until April 20, 2021.
So it would appear that the suspensions and modifications are extended, but the State Disaster Emergency was not specifically extended.
Since we still have a few more days until March 28, 2021, it is possible a new Order is forthcoming. For now, we can confidently say that a LOSAP sponsor should be able to award up to 5 points for January and February 2021, and at least 4 points for March, depending on the interpretation of a "month" and "less than one month" for March (since March 28th isn't exactly to the end of the month).
We will continue to update you as we know more and encourage you again to reach out to your attorney.