Bill Text: NY A03520 | 2019-2020 | General Assembly | Introduced

Bill Title: Establishes the "public interest legal services loan assistance fund" of the state of New York (to consist of a portion of bar examination fees and other funds appropriated by the legislature therefor and such other monies as may be credited or otherwise transferred from any other fund or source pursuant to law, including voluntary contributions); provides for administration of such fund to assist public service attorneys practicing public interest law in repaying their student loans; defines certain terms and adds other related provisions.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 6-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2019-01-29 - referred to judiciary [A03520 Detail]

Download: New_York-2019-A03520-Introduced.html

                STATE OF NEW YORK
                               2019-2020 Regular Sessions
                   IN ASSEMBLY
                                    January 29, 2019
        Introduced  by  M.  of  A. CARROLL, CAHILL, JAFFEE, ORTIZ, L. ROSENTHAL,
          WRIGHT -- read once and referred to the Committee on Judiciary
        AN ACT to amend the state finance law and the judiciary law, in relation
          to establishing a fund to assist public service  attorneys  practicing
          public service law to repay their student loans
          The  People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-
        bly, do enact as follows:
     1    Section 1. This act shall be known and may be  cited  as  the  "public
     2  interest legal services loan assistance act".
     3    §  2.  Declaration  of  policy and legislative intent. The legislature
     4  reaffirms that the efficient and  effective  provision  of  high-quality
     5  legal  services  on  behalf of the state, its political subdivisions and
     6  the populations therein depends on competent, dedicated attorneys making
     7  a long-term commitment to public-service work, whether  as  prosecutors,
     8  public  defenders  or  other  indigent  defense  attorneys,  civil legal
     9  services attorneys, or the equivalent. The legislature  finds,  however,
    10  that  because  these  attorneys  often  carry significant and increasing
    11  student loan debt burdens and have grave  difficulty  in  repaying  such
    12  debts  on the relatively low salaries paid by most public interest posi-
    13  tions, many of these attorneys are being forced to leave public service.
    14  The loss of so many capable public interest attorneys, often at the very
    15  time they have achieved sufficient training and experience to handle the
    16  most complex matters of public concern, has had  an  adverse  impact  on
    17  government  generally and reduced the capacity of the criminal and civil
    18  justice systems to provide  the consistently high-quality legal services
    19  the people of New York state deserve. The  legislature  finds  that  the
    20  difficulty  of  attracting  and  retaining  well-trained public interest
    21  lawyers due to student loan debt frustrates the achievement of important
    22  constitutional and statutory policy objectives, increases  the  cost  of
    23  state  and  local  government,  and  diminishes public confidence in the
    24  criminal and civil justice systems. The legislature therefore recognizes
         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.

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     1  the value of retaining these seasoned public servants in public interest
     2  positions and finds that it is in the public interest to provide  finan-
     3  cial  assistance  to  help  these  attorneys  repay their student loans.
     4  Accordingly,  the  legislature  hereby  establishes  the public interest
     5  legal services loan assistance fund.
     6    § 3. The state finance law is amended by adding a new section 99-g  to
     7  read as follows:
     8    §  99-g. Public interest legal services loan assistance fund. 1. There
     9  is hereby established in the joint custody of the state comptroller  and
    10  the  chief administrator of the courts a special fund to be known as the
    11  "public interest legal services loan assistance fund" of  the  state  of
    12  New York.
    13    2.    The  public  interest  legal services loan assistance fund shall
    14  consist of the monies deposited therein pursuant to subdivision  one  of
    15  section  four  hundred  sixty-five  of the judiciary law, and all monies
    16  deposited therein or transferred thereto from any other fund  or  source
    17  pursuant  to  law,  including voluntary contributions, together with any
    18  interest accrued thereon.
    19    3. All monies in the public interest legal  services  loan  assistance
    20  fund  shall  be available, subject to appropriations, for the payment of
    21  services and expenses as provided  for  in  the  public  interest  legal
    22  services  loan assistance program authorized by article fifteen-B of the
    23  judiciary law, including the costs to the unified court system  incurred
    24  in the administration of such program.
    25    4.  All payments of money from the public interest legal services loan
    26  assistance fund shall be made on the audit  and  warrant  of  the  comp-
    27  troller  on vouchers certified or approved by the chief administrator of
    28  the courts.
    29    § 4. Subdivision 1 of section 465 of the judiciary law, as amended  by
    30  section  6  of  part  K of chapter 56 of the laws of 2010, is amended to
    31  read as follows:
    32    1. Every person applying for examination for admission to practice  as
    33  an  attorney  and counselor at law shall pay a fee of [two] four hundred
    34  [fifty] dollars, or seven hundred fifty dollars if, to qualify  to  take
    35  the  bar  examination, the person must satisfy the rules of the court of
    36  appeals for the admission of attorneys and counselors at  law  governing
    37  the  study  of  law in a foreign country, for each taking or retaking of
    38  the examination, or if dispensation has been received from the taking of
    39  the examination, [four] five hundred dollars for credential  review  for
    40  admission on motion. All such fees shall be paid into the state treasury
    41  in  the  manner  provided by section one hundred twenty-one of the state
    42  finance law, provided that one hundred fifty dollars of each fee for the
    43  taking or retaking of the examination and one hundred  dollars  of  each
    44  fee  for credential review for admission on motion shall be deposited in
    45  the public interest legal  services  loan  assistance  fund  established
    46  pursuant to section ninety-nine-g of the state finance law.
    47    § 5. The judiciary law is amended by adding a new article 15-B to read
    48  as follows:
    49                                ARTICLE 15-B
    51  Section 499-aa. Definitions.
    52          499-bb. Program administration.
    53          499-cc. Public interest legal services loan assistance.
    54    § 499-aa. Definitions. As used in this article:
    55    1.  "Eligible  attorney" means an attorney admitted to practice law in
    56  New York state who during the state fiscal year for which such  attorney

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     1  seeks  reimbursement  for  the  payment  of  a  student loan expense was
     2  employed either as a prosecutor, an  indigent  defense  attorney,  or  a
     3  civil legal services attorney; and who has both held a degree from a law
     4  school for not more than eleven years and was within the eligible period
     5  during the time for which such person is seeking such reimbursement.
     6    2.  "Prosecutor"  means  a  full-time district attorney, as defined in
     7  subdivision thirty-one of section 1.20 of the criminal procedure law.
     8    3. "Indigent defense attorney" means an attorney who  is  a  full-time
     9  employee  of  any of the agencies designated by subdivisions one and two
    10  of section seven hundred twenty-two  of  the  county  law,  and  who  is
    11  engaged  full-time  in the practice of criminal law on behalf of persons
    12  charged with a crime who are financially unable to obtain counsel.
    13    4. "Civil legal services attorney" means an attorney who is an employ-
    14  ee of:
    15    (a) the state or any  political  subdivision  thereof,  including  all
    16  public instrumentalities thereunder, and who is engaged in the full-time
    17  practice  of  law  on  behalf  of the state or any political subdivision
    18  thereof; or
    19    (b) a not-for-profit corporation of this state that is (i) exempt from
    20  the payment of federal income taxes pursuant to section 501(c)(3) of the
    21  internal revenue code, and (ii) established for the purpose of providing
    22  legal services that include civil legal services to persons  within  New
    23  York state whose annual income does not exceed one hundred fifty percent
    24  of the prevailing poverty guidelines issued by the United States depart-
    25  ment  of  health  and human services or any successor agency; and who is
    26  engaged in the full-time practice of law on behalf of such persons.
    27    5. "Eligible period" means the six-year period between the  completion
    28  of  the  third  year  and  before  the commencement of the tenth year of
    29  employment as a  prosecutor  as  defined  in  subdivision  two  of  this
    30  section, or indigent defense attorney as defined in subdivision three of
    31  this section, or civil legal services attorney as defined in subdivision
    32  four  of this section. For purposes of this article, all periods of time
    33  during which an admitted attorney was employed as a prosecutor, indigent
    34  defense attorney or civil legal services attorney shall be combined.
    35    6. "Student loan expense" means the total payments in satisfaction  of
    36  the cumulative total of the eligible attorney's outstanding student loan
    37  debt covering the tuition and other costs of attendance at a law school,
    38  including  interest, required to be made by the eligible attorney during
    39  a state fiscal year. For purposes of this article,  the  amount  of  the
    40  student loan expense shall be reduced by the total of all grants, schol-
    41  arships,  reimbursements,  loan forgiveness or similar reductions to the
    42  attorney's indebtedness that the attorney has received or shall  receive
    43  in or for such year.
    44    §  499-bb.  Program  administration.  The  chief  administrator of the
    45  courts shall administer the public interest legal services loan  assist-
    46  ance  program and shall promulgate rules and regulations consistent with
    47  this article to govern the administration of  such  program.  The  chief
    48  administrator shall create an application process to determine eligibil-
    49  ity  for  applicants  to receive student loan expense grants pursuant to
    50  this article.
    51    § 499-cc. Public interest legal services loan assistance.  1.  (a)  An
    52  eligible  attorney may apply, consistent with this article and the rules
    53  and  regulations  promulgated  by  the  chief  administrator,  for   the
    54  reimbursement  of  student  loan  expense  payments made by the eligible
    55  attorney during a state fiscal year that  falls  completely  within  the

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     1  eligible  period  for  such attorney. Such application shall be filed at
     2  such time as the chief administrator may require.
     3    (b)  An  eligible attorney, to receive reimbursement of a student loan
     4  expense under this article, may apply for such  reimbursement  upon  the
     5  completion  of  the  first  year  of his or her eligible period, and may
     6  apply for such reimbursement annually thereafter upon the completion  of
     7  the second through sixth years of such eligible period; provided, howev-
     8  er, that each such application shall be only for his or her student loan
     9  expense payments during the previous state fiscal year.
    10    2.  During  each state fiscal year commencing on or after April first,
    11  two thousand nineteen, the state shall apportion and pay to each  eligi-
    12  ble  attorney,  pursuant to this article and subject to the availability
    13  of appropriations therefor, an amount equal to the lesser of the student
    14  loan expense of such eligible attorney  or  six  thousand  dollars.  The
    15  state  assistance  apportioned under this section shall be determined by
    16  the chief administrator and  paid  out  of  the  public  interest  legal
    17  services loan assistance fund. In the event that the monies appropriated
    18  from such fund during a state fiscal year for purposes of making assist-
    19  ance  payments  are  not sufficient to pay fully the amounts apportioned
    20  during such fiscal year to all eligible attorneys entitled thereto, each
    21  eligible attorney shall be entitled to receive only an amount represent-
    22  ing the same proportion to the total monies appropriated, less necessary
    23  administrative costs, as the amount apportioned to him or her  bears  to
    24  the  total  amount apportioned to all eligible attorneys for such fiscal
    25  year.
    26    § 6. Subdivision 1 of section 212 of the judiciary law is  amended  by
    27  adding a new paragraph (x) to read as follows:
    28    (x)  Administer  the  public  interest  legal services loan assistance
    29  program pursuant to article fifteen-B of this chapter.
    30    § 7. This act shall take effect September 1, 2019; provided,  however,
    31  that  the chief administrator of the courts is immediately authorized to
    32  promulgate  any  rules  and  regulations  necessary  to  implement   the
    33  provisions of this act.