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In Troy, Gov. Hochul announces new Office of the Chief Disability Officer

In Troy, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed a bill reviving the Office of the Chief Disability Officer to advocate for people with disabilities
Dave Lucas
in Troy, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed a bill reviving the Office of the Chief Disability Officer to advocate for people with disabilities.

Monday in Troy, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed a bill reviving the Office of the Chief Disability Officer to advocate for people with disabilities.

At the Independent Living Center of the Hudson Valley in downtown Troy, Hochul announced the appointment of Kim Hill as the state’s first Chief Disability Officer.

"I'm the most impatient person you'll ever meet. I'm like 'this should've been done yesterday,' and I have a person at my side who's gonna do that and that is Kim Hill. She is gonna be our state's very first Chief Disability Officer," Hochul said.

The Office of the Chief Disability Officer was first created by Governor Mario Cuomo, but fell by the wayside under Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Hill most recently served as the Principal Analyst for the New York State Assembly Standing Committee on People with Disabilities. She says she’s ready to take on the new position.

"Today's a day that we need to celebrate the signing of this bill," said Hill. "We've worked lots of years to get to this place. And we get to go to work and we've got a lot of issues. We've got homecare, paid for home care, housing, education, employment, more ADA access and improving access to all types of programs and services, all the state agencies that we're going to be working with, so I'm really really excited."

Kim Hill is the state’s first Chief Disability Officer.
Dave Lucas
Kim Hill is New York state’s first Chief Disability Officer.

Hochul says she has set the bar "very high" for Hill.

“I want New York State to be a model employer," Hochul said. "I've looked at other states. I've talked to governors, I've talked to lieutenant governors in the seven years I was lieutenant governor. And I know that there's others who are, are breaking territory that we've not yet accomplished. Let's see what's out there. Let's be the model that other states look to, and I believe we can get there. And also what I'm going to be doing in our budget is authorizing state agencies to designate up to 1,200 positions, to be filled by qualified people with disabilities. Let's give people a real shot, a meaningful chance. And that'd include up to 500 positions for people who are qualified wartime veterans with disabilities.”

Democratic bill sponsor James Skoufis is in his second term representing the 39th state Senate district.

“I've been at this for five or six years," Skoufis said. "I remember meeting with Doug Hovey in a coffee shop when I took on the task force for people with disabilities in the assembly and learning about this issue. Many of you have been at this for longer than five or six years. It turns out all we needed was a new governor who cared about people with disabilities. And let me say that Governor Hochul in about six short months, has done more for the disability community than the prior 11 years.”

Hovey is the long time President and CEO of Independent Living, Inc. of Newburgh Junction.

Democrat Phil Steck of the 110th district sponsored the bill in the Assembly.

According to Hochul’s office, Hill will serve as the state's coordinator for the implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, correlate state activities to ensure that state programs do not discriminate against and are accessible to persons with disabilities, and ensure that such programs provide services to individuals with disabilities in the most integrated setting appropriate. Hill’s office will represent the interests of the Disability Community in state government by reviewing proposed legislation and regulations to determine their impact on persons with disabilities.

The bill becomes effective April 1st.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.