On March 29, 2020, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.13 invoking new powers from a law passed to combat the COVID-19 pandemic to temporarily suspend or modify laws necessary to assist or aid in coping with a declared State disaster emergency. On March 3, 2020, the Governor signed into law legislation that expanded his authority to temporarily suspend, modify, or issue directives in response to a declared State disaster emergency. That legislation also accompanied a $40 million appropriation to the Governor to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Governor suspended sections of the Mental Health Law requiring background checks prior to beginning work for employees from the Office of Children and Family Services, the Office of Addiction Services and Supports, the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, and the Office of Mental Health who are now employed by a different approved provider and who have previously passed a background check from working during a period where they are awaiting the results of a background check.
Sections of the Insurance Law were modified to extend the grace period for the payment of premiums and fees for those facing financial hardships from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Insurance Law was modified to permit those unable to exercise rights or benefits under a life insurance policy due to the COVID-19 pandemic to exercise their rights or benefits. Additionally, the Insurance Law and the Worker’s Compensation Law was modified to impose a moratorium on the cancellation, non-renewal, or conditional renewal of policies for policy holders who face financial hardship as a result of the declared State disaster emergency.
The Banking Law was modified to apply provisions of a prior Executive Order related to policy cancellations to premium finance agencies.
The Education Law was modified to allow school districts to pay for the cost of certain child care services.
The Governor also issued several directives related to the eligibility of candidates for elections postponed under Executive Order 202.12.
The Governor directed that instruments required to be verified or acknowledged by the Superintendent of Financial Services may be verified or acknowledged by fax or electronic means.
Non-essential state workers working from home would not be charged to their accruals until April 16, 2020.
Non-essential construction businesses are directed to comply with the in-person workforce reduction directive from Executive Order 202.6.
The Governor also directed that the Executive Orders which closed or restricted public or private businesses or places of public accommodation would have their expiration dates aligned to April 15, 2020.
Finally, the Governor modified a prior directive related to the presence of a support person during labor and delivery to include the immediate postpartum period.
Under the newly enacted law, the Governor has the power to suspend, modify, or issue directives during a declared emergency for 30 days which may be extended for an unlimited number of 30 day periods with consent of the legislature after each subsequent period. Unless the Governor elects to extend the suspension or directives, they will expire on April 28, 2020.