By Jessica Bakeman
ALBANY Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed several dozen bills Friday, including one to streamline emergency management.
Cuomo has until the end of Saturday to sign or veto a total of 64 bills sent to him by the Legislature. If he takes no action on a bill, it automatically becomes law.
Among the bills he signed is a measure that allows the government to use modern technology in communicating about a disaster and accept certain types of assistance from public and private sources.
"We are making sure New York is better prepared for the new reality that our state will face extreme and devastating storms far more often than ever before," Cuomo said in a statement. "Improving our ability to prepare for and respond to future disasters is key, and this legislation is an important step forward in these efforts."
Specifically, the new law enables sheriffs to use faxing or other electronic modes of communication to alert the governor when a special emergency is declared in a county.
The law will also allow the state to better implement an emergency text alert system.
The statute removes liability for mobile service providers who contract with the state to send emergency text messages to residents in an area where a disaster has occurred. If the providers are acting reasonably and in good faith, they'll have immunity from any consequences of sending or failing to send the emergency messages.
The measure will also permit the state to accept assistance, gifts or donations, excluding money, from public or private sources for disaster preparation, response or recovery. Officials will compile a public database of assistance, disclosing donors and recipients, the type of gifts offered and their value.
Assemblyman James Skoufis, D-Woodbury, Orange County, lauded the legislation in a statement Friday.
"Just in the past two years, the Hudson Valley has seen its share of disaster emergencies, including Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee and Hurricane Sandy," Skoufis said in a statement. "This new law will go a long way to ensure that coordination between all levels of government and the private sector is more effective and efficient."