June 8, 2020
House Democrats Unveil Police Reform Legislation
Congressional Democrats introduced a bill today aimed at changing police practices following the weeks of nationwide protests that have sprung up as a result of the killing of George Floyd by officers in Minneapolis. Many of the proposals in the bill, titled The Justice in Policing Act of 2020, were crafted long ago but are garnering attention across the country. These proposals include a ban on chokeholds, a national database tracking police misconduct, and a prohibition on certain no-knock warrants.
An additional proposal included in the bill would change the doctrine of “qualified immunity” that shields officers from many lawsuits – the legislation lowers the bar for plaintiffs to sue officers for alleged civil rights violations. On Monday, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reports that the change in qualified immunity was a “non-starter.”
While passage in the Republican-held Senate appears extremely unlikely, Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Karen Bass stated that she had met with members of the bipartisan “Problem Solvers Caucus” and came away optimistic that a few moderate Republicans in the House would support the bill.
The House is expected to take up the measure later this month.
New York City Begins Phase One of NY Forward Plan Reopening
New York City began phase one reopening today, June 8th, 2020 meeting all seven metrics required through the NY Forward Plan here. With New York City entering phase one, the state is seeking to perform approximately 35,000 tests per day, prioritizing 15 testing sites across the city for those who have participated in recent protests. More information on getting tested for COVID-19 is available at https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov. Additionally, the Governor’s office shared a detailed guide of which businesses will reopen in New York City as part of Phase 1 and Phase 2, which is available here.
With today’s phase one reopening, the Governor announced the MTA is accelerating construction on $2 billion in capital projects. A news release from the Governor’s office lists the following projects being stepped up during what is expected to be a period of reduced ridership due to the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Launching the rehabilitation of the F Train's Rutgers Tube with the contract awarded in July - four years ahead of the original schedule;
- Accelerating 11 ADA stations, including adding 24 new elevators;
- Rehabilitating the 138th Street Grand Concourse Station, which will be completed one month early in October 2020; and
- Accelerating repairs of steel and concrete defects and leaks within the 2/3, 4/5 Train's Eastern Parkways Line in Brooklyn and shaving 10 months off the project by increasing work up to 25 percent during overnight closures.
The opening will also include an 'It's Up to Us, New York' Campaign on MTA buses and trains reminding New Yorkers to take health and safety precautions to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. For its part, the MTA continues to clean and disinfect trains and buses daily and is piloting UV light technology to clean subway cars and crew facilities. The MTA will have one million masks, as well as 25,000 gallons and 500,000 2-oz. bottles of sanitizer for the reopening. To learn more about how the MTA is preparing for Phase 1 click here.
In an important announcement to the health care industry in the region, Governor Cuomo announced New York City will now be eligible to resume elective surgeries and ambulatory care.
Over the weekend, Governor Cuomo made the following announcements
- Graduations of up to 150 people will be permitted beginning June 26th with social distancing required.
- The Mid-Hudson Valley is on track to enter phase two of reopening tomorrow, Tuesday, June 9th.
- Long Island is on track to enter phase two of reopening on Wednesday, June 10th.
- Special Education services and instruction required under Federal, state or local laws, rules, or regulations may be provided in person for the summer term in school districts.
- The Governor signed legislation (S.8189/A.10270) banning price gouging of personal protective equipment (PPE).
- The Governor also signed legislation (S.8130-D/A.10516-A), which extends the deadline to submit absentee ballots until the day of the election. Primary ballots must be postmarked by June 23rd. He also announced he will issue an Executive Order extending the deadline for school districts to receive school budget ballots. With the Executive Order, ballots may accepted by hand delivery through 5pm on June 9th and received by mail through June 16th by the school district in order to be counted.
NYS Legislature Returns to Virtual Session
With the NYS Legislature returning to session today, Monday, June 8th to consider a package of criminal justice reform bills, the Governor reiterated his call to support the "Say Their Name' reform agenda. It includes the following four key initiatives:
- Allow for transparency of prior disciplinary records of law enforcement officers by reforming 50-a of the civil rights law;
- Banning chokeholds by law enforcement officers;
- Prohibiting false race-based 911 reports and making them a crime; and
- Designating the Attorney General as an independent prosecutor for matters relating to the deaths of unarmed civilians caused by law enforcement
Today Governor Murphy announced that municipal and private club swimming pools will reopen on Monday June 22, 2020. Full DOH guidance will be available tomorrow.
Governor Murphy, along with NJ TRANSIT President and CEO, Kevin Corbett, announced NJT2030: NJ TRANSIT’s first ever long-term 10-year strategic plan, as well as NJ TRANSIT’s five-year capital plan. View more here.
The EDA is opening up its next round of small business grant applications tomorrow. For more information on if your business is eligible, or how to apply, click here.
The Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee passed A2429 to establish the “Transportation Services Coordination Task Force", a group that would study and improve transit service, particularly for people with disabilities.
As NJ continues reopening, here are some common activities and their risk for exposure to COVID-19.