A bill meant to make it easier for state workers who volunteered at the World Trade Center site in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 to file claims for sick leave was signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday, the 18th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.
Cuomo also signed a bill into law meant to increase the number of doctors authorized to review those receiving New York City pensions for disability claims. Proponents say that expanding the pool of doctors is needed in order to evaluate claims of illnesses related to being in proximity of the site and cut down on delays.
At a commemoration ceremony in Manhattan following the 7th annual motorcycle ride in honor of the day, Cuomo said the legislation was meant to provide support to first responders and their families.
“We are not going to leave them alone because they are also American heroes and we honor them and we honor their families,” Cuomo said. “We will take care of their families the way they took care of ours.”
The legislation was approved after Congress last month voted to extend the authorization of the Sept. 11 Victims Compensation Fund for first responders grappling with illnesses related to the attack.
Cuomo on Wednesday honored the family of Det. Luis Alvarez, a first responder who lobbied for the extension of the compensation fund in Washington and died last month. The governor presented the family with the Public Service Medal in honor of Alvarez’s advocacy.
Cuomo called Alvarez’s work “the American spirit at its best.”
“That is American courage. That is American patriotism. That is what we all hope and aspire that we could be, and we could do,” he said.
“And in this time of ugliness all around us, in this time of anger, in this time of fear, let’s remember what makes this country the greatest country in the world and this state the greatest state in the country,” Cuomo said. “We will never forget the price of freedom and we will never forget to honor, to respect, to dignify the American values and those who fight for them.”