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Two COVID-19-related bills introduced in state Senate and Assembly

Sen. James F. Gaughran, D-5, introduced S.8286, which would increase the penalties for crimes committed against  essential workers during a declared disaster emergency. The bill was referred to the Codes Committee on May 6. According to the sponsor, there have been reports of essential workers being harassed, threatened, and assaulted during the COVID-19 pandemic, and this bill would deter criminal activity against them. Currently, there is no companion bill in the state Assembly.

 Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz, D-39, introduced  A.10413, which was referred to the Ways and Means Committee on May 11. The bill would establish a COVID-19 recovery local employment tax credit program. This program would provide tax incentives to employers for employing local employees in full- or part-time positions in the two years following the conclusion of the state disaster emergency declared, pursuant to Executive Order 202. If the bill is passed, the New York State Department of Labor commissioner would establish guidelines and criteria that would specify requirements for employers to participate in the program, including criteria for certifying qualified employees. Additionally, Cruz  introduced (A-10423), which would amend the real property law, in relation to judicial interpretation of a contract that cannot be performed due to COVID-19. The bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee on May 11.

Under existing law, a party with a commercial lease can prove that performance under the contract is impossible (i.e., if the building that is under contract is destroyed, or where government laws made performance under the agreement objectively impossible.). The lessee also must show that the event that made performance impossible could not have been foreseen or guarded against in the contract. The new bill would eliminate the need to prove that the event was unanticipated where consequences of COVID-19 was the reason performance was impossible.