On March 21, 2020, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.9 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 modified the Banking Law to deem as an unsafe and unsound business practice a refusal to grant a forbearance to any person or business who has a financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Superintendent of the Department of Financial Services is directed to ensure that, under reasonable and prudent circumstances, licensed or regulated entities provide consumers an opportunity for a forbearance of mortgage payments to any person or entity facing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Executive Order also directs the Superintendent to promulgate emergency regulations to effectuate this directive.
Finally, the Superintendent is directed to promulgate emergency regulations to restrict or modify Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) fees, overdraft fees, and credit card late fees for the period of the declared State disaster emergency. The regulations are directed to take into account the financial impacts on consumers, the safety and soundness of the licensed or regulated entity, and applicable federal requirements.
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 20, 2020.