*EDIT* - This blog post was based on the original version of the bill. You can read about the most current version by clicking here: covid-19-losap-bill-amended-progressing.html
Bill S8251 was introduced in the Senate on April 27, 2020. It was then amended May 6, 2020 to include an amendment to the sections of the General Municipal Law that govern the volunteer ambulance worker service award programs. The amended bill number is S8251-A. On May 11, 2020, a companion bill to S8251-A was then introduced in the Assembly. Therefore, we now have a bill in both houses, S8251-A / A10438. As of the date this post is being written, the bills have been referred to the respective Local Government Committee for consideration. A PDF of the bill is included at the bottom of this post. Keep in mind this is just a bill at this point - it is not law.
For volunteer firefighter programs, this bill essentially does two things:
We were asked for our comments on this bill prior to the Assembly version being introduced and provided a detailed response. If you would like to review those comments, please contact us for a copy. They were intended not to be critical of the intent of the bills - we are thankful the legislature is considering how much the fire service has changed but the way LOSAP points can be earned has relatively stayed the same. Our intent is to improve the effectiveness of the legislation.
Here are our main comments that we think you should know about:
It should not be assumed that these bills will be passed by the legislature and signed into law. Therefore, fire departments and sponsors should continue to come up with creative ways to hold activities and/or develop strategies for volunteers to earn points in 2020. At least we now have some possible legislative relief. Additionally, if this bill becomes law, it would appear to be optional, so sponsors could still be free to look to alternative approaches.
If you have specific questions about the bill, we encourage you to leave your comments below, as others may have the same questions and/or concerns. Ultimately, if the bill as currently constructed does become law, program sponsors will have to lean on their local attorney to navigate some of the vague nuances of the bill.