New York Legislature 1998
[S7287C New York State Spinal Cord Injury Research Bill]
Senate Bill S 7287C
Approval Message 11
BILL NUMBER: S7287C
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:
This legislation would dedicate the equivalent of five dollars of the current fines on certain violations of the Vehicle and Traffic Law for deposit in The Spinal Cord Injury Research Trust Fund which funds shall be applied to fund neurological research to find a cure for individuals with spinal cord injuries.
A Spinal Cord injury Research Board is established in the Department of Health to evaluate research project proposals and to make recommendations on such projects for funding to the Commissioner of Health.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:
Section one is a declaration of legislative intent. Section two creates a 13-member board within the Department of Health to evaluate proposals for research projects and make recommendations for funding to the Commissioner of Health. Section three dedicates the equivalent of $5.00 of the current fine on each conviction for certain violations of the Vehicle and Traffic Law to the Spinal Cord Injury Research Trust Fund. Section four adds section 99-f to the State Finance Law that creates a Spinal Cord Injury Research Trust Fund.
EFFECTS OF PRESENT LAW WHICH THIS BILL WOULD ALTER:
JUSTIFICATION: Every year, between 7,600 and 10,000 Americans sustain spinal cord injuries (SCI). SCI typically results in some degree of paralysis. Since 1990 the most frequent category is complete paraplegia (i.e. complex paralysis of lower limbs) (29.3%), followed by incomplete tetraplegia (i.e. partial paralysis of upper and lower limbs) (28.3%), incomplete paraplegia (23.8%), and complete tetraplegia (18.5%). The two major causes of SCI are motor vehicle crashes (35%) and violent assault (30.4%). Most of the victims are younger people, with some 58% being females, although their rate of SCI is certain to climb as women continue to move into traditionally male sectors of the workforce. The conventional wisdom had long been that most persons with spinal cord injuries could be rehabilitated to some extent, but that neurological damage to nerve tissue could be reversed. That view has changed dramatically Researchers in Sweden, Britain and the United States have demonstrated that "there are no fundamental biological barriers to repairing damaged spinal cords". See "A Step Beyond Paralysis," Time, August 5, 1996.
Indeed, prominent New York University neuroscientist Dr. Wise Young wrote the Swedish research: "The possibility of effective regenerative therapies for human spinal cord injury is no longer a speculation but a realistic goal."
American researchers have had encouraging results using quite different approaches than did their Swedish and British colleagues, raising the possibility of several alternative treatment-modalities. There is more hope today than there ever has been that persons whose lives have been devastated by spinal cord injury can see their injuries reversed to some extent. But for years, the bulk of monies have been spent on rehabilitation research-not basic neurological research with a cure as its objective.
This legislation follows the lead established in Kentucky where a state research fund has been created in 1994 to support cure research for SCI. A similar fund in Florida, into which surcharges on fines paid by people convicted of drunken driving are paid, differs in that the bulk of that fund's resources go to underwriting the actual costs of rehabilitation therapy.
THE INTENTION OF THIS LEGISLATION IS UNEQUIVOCALLY TO PROVIDE FUNDING FOR RESEARCH TO FIND A CURE FOR SPINAL CORD INJURY PARALYSIS.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: None. This is new legislation.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS: The bill would, if enacted, have no fiscal impact upon state or local government.
EFFECTIVE DATE: January l, 1999.