New York State COVID-19 and Legislative Update – May 29, 2020

June 02, 2020

This week marked seventy days since the inception of New York on PAUSE (Policies to Assure Uniform Safety for Everyone). As COVID-19 emergency response efforts continue to strategically transition into economic recovery and revitalization initiatives using a phased approach, New York State remains focused on implementing strategies to mitigate further virus spread; re-stabilize individuals and businesses most greatly impacted; and redesign various facets of New York’s economic and social infrastructure to “build better” for the future. In its efforts to mitigate the spread and resurgence of COVID-19, the State has focused its efforts on resources for low-income and minority communities and messaging focused on social distancing and wearing masks. Furthermore, Governor Cuomo has sought financial relief for New Yorkers by calling on the federal government not only to pass a coronavirus relief bill to provide unrestricted support for states, but also to repeal the controversial state and local tax (SALT) deduction limitations that adversely affect the State. The Governor has also called for Congress to pass the “Americans First Law” to prevent corporate bailouts. In an effort to facilitate innovation and growth, the Governor established the Blue-Ribbon Commission to improve telehealth and broadband access, while also urging the federal government to support infrastructure projects in New York.

To date nine regions within New York State have met the public health and safety metrics required for Phase One and Phase Two re-openings. Regions eligible for Phase One are Western New York, the Capital Region, Mid-Hudson, and Long Island. Today the Governor announced the Finger Lakes, Central New York, the Mohawk Valley, the Southern Tier, and the North Country can enter Phase 2 of re-opening. Additionally, New York City is on track to begin Phase One re-opening beginning June 8. As the trajectory of hospitals and deaths continues to decrease in conjunction with the expansion of diagnostic testing and contact tracing, the reopening of business and recreational opportunities will continue to increase.

This week the New York State Legislature introduced and passed a number of COVID-19 specific bills which addressed a diverse range of issues, including those related to rent and mortgage relief, nursing homes, telemedicine, vaccine administration, minority disparities, emergency loan funding, and employee protections. There is uncertainty regarding how the Legislature will move forward from here. Some have suggested that their work is now done for the year, keeping in mind that their original session schedule for 2020 had them winding up their work next week. However, members in both houses have expressed their desire to convene for session at least once more in the weeks ahead to further address outstanding COVID-19 related needs and member specific items.
Perhaps the biggest questions surround the ongoing issue of the implementation of the 2020-21 State Budget. The budget enacted in April gives the Governor broad powers to make reductions to address budget shortfalls in the face of what is projected to be a $15 billion+ deficit. The Governor has indicated that his actions will depend upon the scope of federal aid received by New York. Regardless of the amount of aid and the actions taken by the Governor in response, it is highly likely that the Legislature will reconvene to address the budget issues that will result.

Please click on the PDF below for a list of the COVID-19 related legislation that passed both houses this week. If you have any questions or concerns regarding any of the bills noted, please feel free to contact your Farrell Fritz team to discuss further.

View the PDF

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