Bill S6790-2011

Authorizes the free use of campsites to any person who is semi-ambulatory

Authorizes the free use of campsites to any person who is semi-ambulatory.






TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the parks, recreation and historic preservation law, in relation to the free use of campsites

PURPOSE: To provide free access to state parks for semi ambulatory members of our state.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section one amends the Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation law to provide free access to our state parks and recreation areas.

Section two provides the effective date of the legislation.

EXISTING LAW: Article 13 of the Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation law allows the blind, non-ambulatory, amputees and certain veterans of the wars of the United States free access to state parks.

JUSTIFICATION: Current law allows the blind, the non ambulatory, amputees and certain veterans free access to our state's public parks. Until 2010, those who are semi ambulatory were also allowed access to our state parks by qualifying for a free access pass. In 2010, this category was eliminated, so that currently people who walk with a cane, crutches, a walker or other mobility aid can no longer qualify for an Access Pass. Also eliminated were individuals receiving federal Social Security Disability, Supplemental Security Income or Railroad Disability. The 2010 changes came about in part as the result of an internal review of the Access Pass system prompted by a New York Times story and other reports of abuses by those in the latter category who were receiving federal disability benefits and yet were able to golf for free.

There were no stories of abuses by semi ambulatory individuals deserving yet handicapped people who want to enjoy the benefits our parks can offer them, and who, because of their disability are unable to enjoy all of the benefits the fully able bodied have the chance to enjoy.

In addition, while one of the reasons given by the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for the elimination of the two categories in 2010 is that they are not categories contained in statute, access passes are still (deservedly) given to the deaf and those with mental disabilities, yet these are categories of individuals who are also not included in the current law.

Certainly curbing abuses to the access pass system is a worthy endeavor, however the removal of the semi ambulatory category has prevented deserving individuals from accessing our park system as they were able to do prior to 2010.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: This is a new bill.

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: Fiscal impacts would be minimal. The access pass system was changed in 2010 to eliminate two categories of eligibility from the access pass program: the semi ambulatory and individuals receiving social security disability, social security insurance or a railroad retirement board disability. The move was prompted by abuses by those receiving federal retirement benefits. Adding back the category of semi ambulatory would be in keeping with the purpose of the program which is to allow state park access to the deserving disabled.


EFFECTIVE DATE: Immediately.


STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 6790 IN SENATE March 22, 2012 ___________
Introduced by Sen. RITCHIE -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation AN ACT to amend the parks, recreation and historic preservation law, in relation to the free use of campsites THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Section 13.19 of the parks, recreation and historic preser- vation law, as amended by chapter 649 of the laws of 1977, is amended to read as follows: S 13.19 Free use of campsites. Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law, any person who is blind, non-ambulatory, SEMI-AMBULATORY, or an amputee or any veteran of the wars of the United States, who has at any time been awarded by the federal government an allowance towards the purchase of an automobile or is eligible for such an award shall be permitted to use any of the public campsites, parks and other public places of recreation in this state, upon the same terms and conditions as apply to the general public, but without the payment of any fees or other charges for the use of such campsites, parks and other public places of recreation. S 2. This act shall take effect immediately.


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