From the Desk of Senator Craig Johnson – July 31, 2009

State Senate Extends COBRA Healthcare Benefits

The New York State Senate recently passed legislation (S.5471) that will protect unemployed workers by extending their health insurance benefits from 18 months to 36 months, Senator Craig M. Johnson, (D-Nassau), announced.

“In this current economic climate, it is more important than ever to alleviate some of the stress felt by families facing unemployment,” Johnson said. “This legislation will ensure that hard working New Yorkers who have lost their jobs recently through no fault of their own can continue to have access to their healthcare during this transitional period.”

Additionally, under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), recently unemployed New Yorkers who were working at small businesses are eligible for these extended benefits.

Previously, companies with fewer than 20 employees were not eligible for COBRA once they became unemployed, leaving thousands of citizens without the coverage they need to get back on their feet.

Earlier this session, Senate Democrats passed legislation that protects New Yorkers by allowing those who have recently lost their job to retain their health coverage at 65 percent discount of the continuation premium.


Legislation to Protect Votes of Soldiers, Other Overseas Americans Passes Senate


Important legislation that will make it significantly easier for military and overseas voters to cast a ballot, better ensuring that their vote will count, recently passed the state Senate and was quickly signed into law, Senator Craig M. Johnson (D-Nassau) said.

This measure, (S.5595), extends the time in which an absentee ballot can be received after an election. Now, all ballots will be counted that are received by the board of elections for seven days following a primary election, or 13 days following a general or special election.

Additionally, for the first time ever, voters overseas will be able to fax or e-mail their request for an absentee ballot. Previously, it could take as long as 75 days from the time an overseas voter requested an absentee ballot to the time their vote was actually received. That limited time frame and the lengthy absentee ballot mailing process has proven to be unreasonably restrictive as any delay for ballots traveling thousands of miles could result in that vote being thrown out.

“These brave men and women put their lives on the line everyday to protect our freedom,” Johnson said. “ I am proud to have had the opportunity to help better protect their right to participate in the democratic process.”

According to a recent report done by the office of U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, over 8,000 troops from New York were deprived in the most recent elections of their fundamental right to vote because the lengthy mailing process meant many ballots did not arrive in time to be counted.

The legislation, which had also passed the assembly, was signed by the governor soon after its passage in the senate.

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