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Sunday, June 28, 2015

RE: ​NY State Restroom Access Act - The Ally's Law

GAM ZU L'TOVAH!!!

We have news... not what we were hoping for, but we have made good progress.

The bill passed in the Assembly on Wednesday the 24th, 134 Yea’s vs. 3 Nay’s. And it was delivered to the Senate. But, the Senate ended their session yesterday without voting on the Senate version of the Crohn's and Colitis Fairness Act - Restroom Access Act. They passed it into Rules Committee which is what they do with bills that did not get voted on. This means that if they choose to go back into session this fall it can come up again for a vote. Unfortunately, there is no guaranty they will do this. Typically they are only in session from January to June and then not again until next year. They will decide in the fall if they need to go back into session.

If they do not go into session until next January, the process must start again. However, the Sponsor of the bill in Assembly - Assemblywoman Paulin's office said the process would be much quicker this time. The sponsors would remain on the bill for both the Senate and House side and it will quickly sail through the Assembly. It was almost a unanimous vote in favor with only two nays (the third one is claiming it was a mistake of the clerk). Then it will go back to the Senate. It also passed the Senate Health committee with 14 yays, 2 yays with reservations and one absent. So the bill clearly is seen as a positive addition. There is just a lot of competition in getting it to the floor.

The CCFA is working tirelessly to continue having constituents reach out to the office of Senator Hannon - the sponsor of the Bill in Senate, and to the office of the Speaker of the Senate - Senator Flanagan, and in arranging meetings with Senator Hannon and Senator Flanagan.

In terms of timing, we should continue the push through the summer, and if we see them considering a fall session we will ramp it up then as well.

We should also all thank our Assembly people for voting for the bill. It is nice to let them hear appreciation after the fact. It can't hurt to continue to reach out to our Senators asking for support when the bill comes up although this may be better done when we get closer to a vote.

We will get this done... not as quickly as we hoped but it will happen! Thanks for all you are doing!

Monday, June 22, 2015

RE: ​NY State Restroom Access Act - The Ally's Law

Dear member,

We are down to the wire here and need a big push. This session of the NY State Senate and Assembly is coming to a close and our bill is up for a vote.

The Act has already been introduced in the Assembly and will be debated on the floor over this week. It will definitely be put up for a vote before this session ends (which was extended) and the office of the bill sponsor, Assemblywoman Amy Paulin feels confident that it will pass. It can never hurt to reach out still to offer your support of Bill A277 to your own legislators and to Assembly Speaker, Carl Heastie, at
518-455-3791, but not as urgent.

The urgent piece is on the Senate side. The Senate Speaker, John Flanagan, has not brought the Bill forward for a vote yet, as hoped for. So the most important Call to Action right now is to call the office of the acting Senate Speaker, John Flanagan,
518-455-2071 and urge him to bring S4918 forward for a vote ASAP. The Senate is not in session today but goes back in session tomorrow. This is a situation where everyone can call. He is the Speaker of the Senate and therefore represents all.

By calling Speaker Flanagan’s office you can say something like this: Hi my name is… I am calling to ask the Speaker to put the Crohn's and Colitis Fairness Act, Bill number S4918 on the agenda, As an IBD sufferer it is very important for me, and I support this bill.


Let’s make this happen!

Friday, June 19, 2015

RE: ​NY State Restroom Access Act - The Ally's Law

Dear Member,

Today is probably the last day in session; we would like to ask you to take a minute and call the office of the Assembly Speaker, Carl Heastie, at
518-455-3791 and ask that the Speaker should bring up Bill A277 for a vote.

You can say something like this: Hi my name is… I am calling to ask the Speaker to put the Crohn's and Colitis Fairness Act, Bill number A277 on the agenda, As an IBD sufferer it is very important for me, and I support this bill.
It takes just one minute, and only with our voices we feel very confident we can get this bill passed this year.

Please forward it to all your contacts! Thanks in advance. We will keep you updated.

Git Shabbos!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

RE: ​NY State Restroom Access Act - The Ally's Law

Great news everyone...

The Restroom Access -- Crohn's and Colitis Fairness Act (
A277/S4918) has been introduced to the Senate and is up for a vote on June 17th!  Additionally, the bill is in review in the CODES Committee in the Assembly.  Now is the time to have all hands on deck, with a continuous ramp up using social media and e-blasts. We suggest that these next two weeks is the time to have all constituents call or email their legislators in support of this bill. Ask all your friends and family to call their legislators. The link below will help them find their Senator. It is ok if it is the same Senator as yours. The more voices the better. If you already reached out, it doesn't hurt to send a reminder email asking for their support on the 17th.

We have drafted a sample email below but feel free to use your own words. Then ask friends and family to do the same. It really is that easy. First locate your Senator by going to this link
http://www.nysenate.gov/senators and your Assemblyperson by going to this link http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/search/ and put in your street address. Once you identify your Senator and Assemblyperson click on their name and there will be a place that says "contact me". That will generate an email form or address and then all you have to do is insert the following type of wording:

Dear ______________

I am a voter/constituent in your district and I am asking for your support of Bill A277/S4918, which enacts the "Crohn's and Colitis Fairness Act" providing Restroom Access. This bill would allow people with medical conditions that require urgent restroom use--such as the inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis--to use an employee’s-only restroom when a public one is not available and it is safe for the business to do so.

In NY State there are more than 100,000 people with these debilitating diseases. I am sure you can imagine how it must feel to be denied access to a bathroom when you so desperately need one. This Bill is important to me because... (I have IBD or am related to or friends with - whatever personal connection you wish to share).

Please support this bill and vote for it when it comes before you. If you need more information please feel free to contact the Jewish Crohn’s & Colitis Group (JCCSG) or visit http://jccsg.blogspot.com/2015/06/a-letter-sent-to-all-ny-assmeblymembers.html

Thank you,

Your name

As a sufferer from IBD, We have first-hand experience of the hardships that the patients of IBD go through. We are forced to schedule our day around the availability of restrooms. Every business trip or family vacation revolves around our condition. We experienced unimaginable physical and emotional pain every time we are rejected usage of employees’ restrooms in public places. Therefor we urge you to take a part in the process of the passage of A.277 and S.4918 this legislative session which would vastly improve your life and the lives of many others.

Email them, call their office or visit and ask for their support. With enough of our voices being heard we feel very confident we can get this bill passed this year and you will have been a part of the process!

Thanks in advance. We will keep you updated.

A letter sent to all NY Assmeblymembers and State Senators RE: ​NY State Restroom Access Act - The Ally's Law

Dear Honorable...
 
I am the founder and executive director of the ‘Jewish Crohn’s & Colitis Support Group’ (JCCSG) non-profit organization. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are chronic gastrointestinal tract diseases, which are collectively known as the Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD). IBD causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, most commonly in the small intestine and colon, which causes severe abdominal pain, fever, diarrhea, and bleeding. People who suffer from it often require immediate restroom use, and are at risk of developing anemia, liver disease, and colon cancer, among other fatal diseases.

On behalf of the members of our organization, I am humbly asking that your honor support the law
A.277, sponsored by Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (88th District), as well as the law S.4918, sponsored by Senator Kemp Hannon (6th District), the chairman of Senate committee on Health. This bill will require retail establishments that have public toilet facilities for their employees to also allow customers to use the facilities, if the customer suffers from an inflammatory bowel disease or other medical condition requiring immediate access to a toilet.

The “Crohn’s and Colitis Fairness Act” is also known as “
Ally’s Law,” named after Ally Bain. In 2005, Ally was a 14 year old girl from Illinois, suffering from Crohn's disease, who had a very unpleasant experience. She had gone shopping at a national clothing store with her mother, when she suddenly had an urge to use the bathroom. The public restroom was unavailable at the moment, and she asked to use the employee restroom but was denied access. As a result, poor Ally soiled herself. One can imagine the embarrassment and distress she felt. Ally vowed to dedicate her life to prevent this from happening again - to her or to anyone in a similar condition.

With the support of her family, friends, and her Illinois State Representative, Ally got a law passed in her state that requires businesses to make employee-only restrooms available to people with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and other medical conditions that require immediate use of a toilet facility. Since then, the “Crohn’s and Colitis Fairness Act” law has been introduced and passed, largely by grassroots efforts, in the following 14 states: Colorado, Connecticut, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin, and Washington. Several more states are now in the process of passing this bill, and there is support to propose a federal version of the same act.

The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) estimates that 1.6 million American children, teenagers, and adults are suffering from IBD, including over 104,000 people in the state of New York. Inflammatory Bowel Diseases are currently incurable, and they are nationally recognized as substantial handicaps; Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are considered disabilities under the “Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act of 2008.”

If and when “The Crohn’s and Colitis Fairness Act” will pass in New York, it will be an immense relief for the over a hundred thousand New Yorkers who are suffering from this condition, who, in addition to being subject to chronic pain and emotional distress, find themselves in unpleasant and distressful situations when they are in public places and need to use the bathroom immediately.

As a sufferer from IBD, I have first-hand experience of the hardships that the patients of IBD go through. I am forced to schedule my day around the availability of restrooms. Every business trip or family vacation revolves around my condition. I experience unimaginable physical and emotional pain every time I am rejected usage of employees’ restrooms in public places. I therefor urge you the passage of A.277 and S.4918 this legislative session which would vastly improve my life and the lives of many others.

Respectfully,
Yoely Drummer
Founder & Executive Director
עול"ם - JCCSG Inc.
Jewish Crohn's & Colitis Support Group ~ עזרה וחיזוק לחולי מעיים