COVID-19 Update: Federal, NY & NJ

16.06.20 08:10 PM Comment(s) By asaavedra


June 15th, 2020


Federal

 

Congress Seeks Disclosure of PPP Recipients

In the 10 weeks since the launch of the Paycheck Protection Program, the Small Business Administration has yet to provide information regarding the recipients of the taxpayer aid. Previously, the SBA had rebuffed requests from lawmakers and news organizations for information on individual companies that received the loans – stating that the Administration had been too focused on processing applications to provide said information.

 

While the official SBA line had been that such data would be provided sometime in the undefined “future,” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin last week told a Congressional panel that the names of recipients and the amounts that they received are “proprietary information,” and that Treasury and the SBA would therefore keep them confidential. This, despite the fact that the PPP loan application specifically alerts borrowers to the fact that their information will be publicly released.

 

Congressional Democrats led by Majority Whip James Clyburn have sent letters to the major financial institutions who facilitated the billions in loans that have been disbursed under PPP, asking them to release information about the businesses who have received the loans. The group has also sent letters to Secretary Mnuchin and SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza.

 

Supreme Court Ruling Extends Federal Anti-Discrimination Laws to LGBTQ Workers

In a somewhat surprising decision given it’s ideological makeup, the Supreme Court this morning held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 extends to prohibiting employers from firing an individual simply for being homosexual or transgender. The 6-3 opinion was authored by Justice Neil Gorsuch – a conservative Justice appointed by President Trump to fill the vacancy created by the death of Justice Scalia during President Obama’s final year in office. Justice Gorsuch was joined by Chief Justice Roberts and the four more-liberal members of the Court.

 

In the opinion, Justice Gorsuch lays out why a textual reading of Title VII clearly warrants the finding that the Court arrives at:


In Title VII, Congress outlawed discrimination in the workplace on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Today, we must decide whether an employer can fire someone simply for being homosexual or transgender. The answer is clear. An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.

 

New York

 

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo Opens Bike Path and Walk Way on the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo visited Westchester County today to announce the opening of a shared bicycle and pedestrian path on the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge. The 3.6 mile path provides what a news release from his office described as “an environmentally friendly new connection for families, runners, cyclists, walkers and commuters to travel between Westchester and Rockland counties.”  The new Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, a $3.9 billion project, replaced the Tappan Zee Bridge in 2017. With some 50 million vehicles crossing the bridge annually, it will be lit in his father’s favorite color blue this evening to honor his June 15th birthday.

 

Governor Cuomo Signs Police Reform Bills

Under new legislation signed today by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, state and local law enforcement officers must report within six hours when they discharge their weapon (S.2575-B/A.10608). Another bill he signed into law will requiring courts to maintain and publish racial and other demographic data of all low-level offenses (S.1830-C/A.10609). A third will require police officers to provide medical and mental health attention to individuals in custody (S.6601-A/A.8226). Over the weekend, the Governor signed legislation (S.3253-A/A.1360) - the 'New Yorker's Right to Monitor Act' - affirming the right of an individual to record law enforcement activity. The bill also permits people to maintain custody of  recordings and any instruments used to make a recording.

 

Weekend Updates from Governor’s Daily Briefings

  • Western New York is expected to enter Phase 3 of reopening Tuesday, June 16. The Capital Region is expected to enter Phase 3 of reopening on Wednesday, June 17. Also, Low-risk youth sports for regions in phase three of reopening can begin on July 6th with up to two spectators allowed per child. The Governor reminded local governments to enforce all reopening rules and guidelines, noting bars and restaurants, and adding any failure to enforce these rules can result in the closure of businesses. Business guidance for phase three is available here.
  • Governor Cuomo signed legislation (S.8275-A/A.10348) suspending the forfeiture of unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 state of emergency. This new law will allow those individuals who have had to forfeit penalties levied against them from past claims to collect benefits anyway
  • He also signed legislation (S.8415/A.10446-A) repealing criminalization of wearing face coverings and masks in public and lifting a nearly 200 year old ban on wearing masks in public.
  •  New York State is extending the special open enrollment period in the New York State of Health Health Plan Marketplace for an additional 30 days through July 15, 2020.
  • (S.8245-A/A.10517), legislation requiring the State Department of Health to conduct a study on the health impacts of COVID-19 on minorities in New York State, was signed into law by the Governor. 

 

 

New Jersey

 

Executive Action

Today begins the official implementation of Stage 2 of Governor Murphy's Road Back Initiative. Here is a summary of the changes that take effect today. 

 

Over the weekend, President Trump approved the $800 million in funding for replacement for the Portal Bridge between New York and New Jersey. 

 

The Office of the Attorney General is now requiring law enforcement agencies statewide to publicly identify the 400 officers who have committed serious disciplinary violations over the past 20 years, by July 15, 2020. 

 

Departmental Updates

The Department of Health released sports guidance and safety recommendations in advance of Monday June 22's reopening. Full details here.

 

Legislative Updates

This morning the Senate held a voting session to pass additional COVID-19 bills.

 

A4126 was passed by the Senate and was sent to the Governor. The bill permits local units and authorities to waive interest and lien enforcement for certain delinquent water and sewer utility payments during emergency circumstances.

 

S2542 was passed in the Senate and sent to the Assembly State and Local Government Committee. The bill allows municipalities to suspend certain zoning requirements during COVID-19 emergency.

 

The Assembly voting session is scheduled for Thursday June, 18 at 11:00 am.

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