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New bills introduced in New York state Legislature

Since last week, several bills have been introduced in the New York state Legislature. They all are related to the COVID-19 pandemic and disease outbreaks; some would make temporary changes, while other changes would be permanent.

A.10343, which was introduced by Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, R-64, would grant an automatic extension to pay income and other taxes to taxpayers affected by a disease-outbreak-related declared state of emergency. The extension would be 90 days. While the bill would seem to apply generally to disease outbreaks, the text of the law would make it applicable only in 2020, so it would need to be amended in order to apply to future outbreaks.

A.10344, introduced by Assemblyman Andrew W. Goodell, R-150, would require employers to grant sick leave to employees when the employee is subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine due to COVID-19. If this bill passes, the employee would be entitled to sick leave until the termination of his or her quarantine. Paid family leave would be available for mandatory or precautionary quarantine periods after the utilization of any available paid sick leave. This bill has a companion bill, S.8172, which was introduced by Sen. George Borrello, R-57, in April.

Assemblywoman Linda B. Rosenthal, D-67, and Sen. Monica R. Martinez, D-3, introduced A.10348/S.8275. These bills propose the suspension of the forfeiture of unemployment benefits imposed under a prior claim based on a willful false statement or representation during the COVID-19 state of emergency, but would require penalties and refunds to be paid after the emergency ends. Currently, those who have had forfeiture penalties enacted against them from previous claims are unable to collect benefits for those days, during which they would ordinarily receive unemployment benefits, and they also are unable to receive the additional $600 per week from the federal government. Additionally, there is no flexibility for the Department of Labor to unilaterally waive forfeit days. This legislation would authorize the commissioner to temporarily waive forfeit day penalties during the current state of emergency.

Assemblyman Robert C. Carroll, D-44, and Sen. Kevin Parker, D-21, introduced A.10360/S.8191, which would prohibit businesses from charging membership fees if a state disaster emergency has rendered services impossible or illegal, including when a consumer can demonstrate a financial hardship. This bill was introduced after businesses in New York continued to charge New Yorkers for services they are not providing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Finally, A.10401/S.8266, introduced by Sen. Jessica Ramos, D-13, and Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, D-36, would include exposure to COVID-19 as an occupational disease for which compensation would be payable for disabilities sustained, or death incurred, by an employee to the Workers’ Compensation law. Ramos justified the bill saying that current law could allow insurance companies to deny workers’ compensation claims if they are related to COVID-19.

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