New York Senate passes coronavirus legislation

By FRITZ MAYER
Posted 6/2/20

ALBANY, NY — After being away from Albany since March, the New York State Senate reconvened on May 26 and ultimately passed numerous bills meant to address the COVID-19 pandemic and health …

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New York Senate passes coronavirus legislation

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ALBANY, NY — After being away from Albany since March, the New York State Senate reconvened on May 26 and ultimately passed numerous bills meant to address the COVID-19 pandemic and health emergencies in the future. The bills were also passed by the state Assembly, State Sen. Jen Metzger said in a press release. More than 30 bills now await Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature.

“We passed a broad range of important legislation this week to help New Yorkers during this critical time, including my bill to expand access to telehealth, which is so desperately needed in our rural and underserved areas,” said Metzger. “By making audio-only services reimbursable, this legislation will greatly expand affordable access to telemedicine, reduce barriers to care in rural communities and allow individuals to practice social distancing to reduce the spread of COVID-19.” 

Under current law, telehealth must include audio and video in order to be reimbursed by Medicaid and the Child Health Insurance Plan. 

“Our work is far from finished, and I will continue to serve Mid-Hudson Valley and Catskills communities through the course of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Sen. Metzger, who co-sponsored a number of the bills in the COVID-19 package.

The legislation extends the one-year “look-back” window in the Child Victims Act, which was passed last session. The “look-back” window was shortened when the courts were closed due to the state-wide shut down.

Another bill prevents utilities and municipalities from shutting off electric, gas, phone and water services until March 31, 2021 and gives consumers the right to enter into deferred payment plans. The legislation also requires banks and mortgage services to grant 90 days of forbearance to mortgage holders who can show that their lateness is related to the COVID-190 pandemic.

The legislature also passed the Emergency Rent Relief Act of 2020, which will provide vouchers to landlords on behalf of tenants who are late paying rent because of the pandemic. Another bill will allow municipalities to defer the payment of property taxes during the state of emergency.

The legislature also passed a bill that would grant Industrial Development Agencies (IDAs) authority to provide loans of up to $25,000 to small businesses to pay for safety items such as personal protective equipment and plexiglass. The loans could be available through December 31, 2021.

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