April 10, 2020
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer today released a statement following yesterday’s Senate small business aid program impasse. Senator Schumer stated that he “had a constructive call with Secretary Mnuchin this morning during which [Mnuchin] agreed to pursue bipartisan talks with the leadership of House and Senate Democrats and Republicans on interim Emergency Coronavirus Relief legislation.” The senator added that “There’s no reason why we can’t come to a bipartisan agreement by early next week.”
In the meantime, the Federal Reserve announced yesterday a slew of emergency programs that could provide upwards of $2 trillion in loans in a bid to keep the economy afloat. Among these programs: $500 billion to buy debts from states, cities with a population over 1 million and counties with a population of more than 2 million. This is the first time in the history of the Federal Reserve that it will purchase bonds issued by states and cities, highlighting the dangers that localities across the country are facing in the midst of this pandemic.
Governor Cuomo today announced that for the first time during the COVID-19 crisis, more people left intensive care in New York than entered it. While the number of confirmed cases and admitted patients continues to rise, the Governor signaled cautious optimism that at least one important indicator was trending in a positive direction.
Governor Cuomo also took time today to call for the establishment of a 9/11-style compensation fund for frontline workers in transit, health care, and service sectors. He added that he is leaning on the state congressional delegation to advance such an effort, and he further stated his hopes that a Phase 4 federal relief bill would peg funding for states by the number of infections. The Governor had previously panned the Phase 3 relief bill as being “irresponsible” and “reckless” after New York was slated to receive only $5 billion – an amount that many in the state criticized as being insufficient to deal with the crisis.
Finally, the Governor also announced that New York, Connecticut and New Jersey will create a regional testing partnership to bring mass testing to scale for residents in these states. The state is currently conducting 300 of these antibody tests per day, and is on track to conduct 1,000 per day by next Friday and 2,000 per day by the following week. The Governor offered a full partnership with the federal government to bring mass testing to scale, but in the meantime the Governors would be forging ahead together.
Governor Murphy is signing Executive Order 124 in conjunction with the Department of Health, and the Department of Corrections, to create the Emergency Medical Home Confinement Program, to help preserve balance between public health and public safety. Under this order, low-risk individuals whose current age or health status puts them at increased risk for Covid-19, and who has been denied parole in the last year, or whose sentence is set to expire in the next 90 days, may be grated home confinement or release. This is for non-violent individuals only. Individuals must have a release plan that includes access to all necessary services, including medical services, and housing, and individuals will be subject to Department of Corrections supervisions.
When asked about his Constitutional authority to borrow as it relates to the budget, and whether he would invoke it, the Governor said every option is on the table.
Department of Health
The DOH is acquiring PPE for departmental use in order to conduct in-person audits of all long-term care and group home facilities in NJ as part of their statewide plan.
The New Jersey State Senate introduced a series bills that will help the state cope with the current COVID-19 pandemic. These bills will be voted on in the Senate's first-ever remote voting session on Monday, April 13th:
- S2330 (Pou / Cryan / Oroho / Vitale) is the COVID -19 Financial Security for Consumers Act which would address financial insecurity issues stemming from the pandemic by requiring insurance carriers to cover COVID-19 treatment expenses without cost sharing and prohibit certain debt collection activities.
- S2332 (Stack / Sweeney / Corrado) would make a $50 million, FY2020, supplemental appropriation to the Department of Community Affairs for a Temporary Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
- S2333 (Kean / Sweeney / Smith / O'Scanlon) would provide immunity from civil liability for certain medical malpractice claims alleging injury or death incurred during a public health emergency and the state of emergency declared by Governor's Executive Order 103 of 2020.
- S2338 (Sarlo / Oroho / Bucco) is the "COVID-19 Fiscal Mitigation Act", would change the tax filing and payment deadline from April 15th to July 15th and lengthen the current fiscal year from July 1st to the end of September.
- S2339 (Cunningham / Ruiz / Cryan / Singleton) would increase support for laid off workers eligible for unemployment compensation.
- S2340 (Singleton / Oroho / Greenstein) would authorize a Governor to permit mortgage forbearance and rent payment responsibility reduction for residential property owners and tenants during a state of emergency.
- S2341 (Vitale / Thompson / Greenstein / Scutari) would authorize a Governor to restrict rent increases on retail businesses as well as permit mortgage forbearance and rent payment responsibility reduction for impacted residential property owners and tenants during a state of emergency.
- S2344 (Pou / Singer / Vitale) would require Medicaid and health insurance coverage for certain refills of prescription drugs during a state of emergency.
- S2345 (Cryan / Bateman) would require refunds or credit for transient space reservations such as Airbnb and VRBO when a public health emergency or state of emergency is in effect.
- S2346 (Sarlo / Sweeney / Singleton / Bucco) would extends certain state, regional, county, and municipal agency permit approvals during the COVID-19 emergency.
- S2347 (Sweeney / Greenstein / Kean) would establish the Employment and Business-Related Tax Deferral Assistance Program within the Economic Development Authority in order to allow small businesses to defer the payment and remittance of employment and business-related taxes.
- S2348 (Sweeney / Kean / Bucco) would allow for CBT and GIT tax credits to be awarded to certain employers that retain employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- S2351 (Scutari / Greenstein / Holzapfel) would afford employment protection to certain emergency medical responders.
- S2352 (Gopal / Lagana / Holzapfel) would increase the penalty for distribution of counterfeit drugs and medical devices during a declared state of emergency.
- S2353 (Cryan) would exclude from severance requirements for mass layoffs resulting from coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic under the "Millville Dallas Airmotive Plant Job Loss Notification Act".
- S2354 (Greenstein / Oroho) would prohibit the cancellation or nonrenewal of insurance during a public health emergency or state of emergency and for 60 days thereafter.
- S2355 (Gopal / Bateman) would delay mandatory retirement when it would occur during a state of emergency.
- S2356 (Cunningham) would provide relief to students receiving State financial aid to address special circumstances due to the 2020 public health state of emergency.
- S2357 (Rice / Gill / Corrado) would require hospitals to report COVID-19 demographic data.
- SR64 (Cryan / Pou / Bateman) would urge financial institutions to waive and suspend certain fees and payments during the pandemic.
- SR65 (Sarlo / Greenstein / Testa) would urge the creation of a federal COVID-19 Business and Employee Continuity and Recovery Fund.