This week, the New York State Legislature reconvened for a "Summer Session" to advance legislation that we were not able to address due to disruptions from the Coronavirus Pandemic. I am proud of the work that we did this week including adopting a package of bills to strengthen voting rights, modifying the liability protections for health care providers going forward, and passing legislation to strengthen the penalties against housing discrimination.
The package of voting rights bills we passed builds on the 2019 historic voting reforms we adopted and also implements the New York Automatic Voter Registration Act of 2020. Among other reforms, the package includes legislation to allow applications for absentee ballots when a voter faces the risk of contracting or spreading a disease; provide voters with notice of any deficiencies in their absentee ballot envelopes & an opportunity to fix them to ensure their votes can be counted; and provide that any absentee ballot be presumed to be timely even if it does not bear a dated postmark if the ballot was received and timestamped by the day after Election Day. Read more about the continued work of the Senate Majority to strengthen voting rights in a section below.
NEW YORK FORWARD
- As of this week, an additional ten states meet the metrics to necessitate a travel advisory requiring individuals who travel to New York from those states to quarantine for 14 days. Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona ,California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin. If a New Yorker travels to any of these states and comes back to New York, that individual must also quarantine for 14 days.
- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has lifted the ban on the Trusted Traveler Program for New Yorkers and apologized to the Court for their misrepresentations in their legal papers.
- Governor Andrew Cuomo is launching a new COVID-19 campaign to target young New Yorkers and urge them to socially distance and wear masks. Watch the new ad here.
FOOD DRIVE WITH SENATOR PETE HARCKHAM
Saturday, July 25th from 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM
The Coronavirus Pandemic has had devastating effects on our communities, and the demand at local food pantries has more than doubled. Please join Senator Pete Harckham and me for a food drive at Fox Lane Middle School, 632 South Bedford Road, Bedford NY 10549. This is a drive thru/drop-off event; food will not be distributed at this time. Volunteers will be wearing face masks and will collect the food from your car. You do not need to step out of your vehicle. The food drive is in partnership with the Community Center of Northern Westchester and the Bedford Teachers Association. Some proceeds will be donated to the Antioch Baptist Church. Flyers are available in English and Spanish.
MANAGING STUDENT LOANS AMID COVID-19
Wednesday, July 29th from 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM
Join Senators Pete Harckham, Higher Education Committee Chair Toby Ann Stavisky & me for a presentation about managing student loans through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The free webinar will provide the latest updates about student loan relief available through the CARES Act, repayment options, and how to avoid going into default. Click here to register and reserve your spot.
COMMEMORATING THE 30TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE ADA WITH PASSAGE OF BILL TO UPDATE STATE LAWS WITH RESPECTFUL & INCLUSIVE LANGUAGE
Sunday, July 26th marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. On Sunday, I’ll be joining my friends at Westchester Disabled on the Move (WDOM) for a virtual celebration. This week, my bill, S.7650, to update the state’s Education Law with inclusive and respectful language passed the State Senate. S.7650 amends the NY Education Law by replacing the words “handicapping conditions” with the word “disabilities”. Words matter, and updating language is important to show that all New Yorkers are respected under the law. I look forward to continuing to work with my friends at WDOM and other disability advocacy groups toward more inclusive and just laws. To join the ADA anniversary celebration on Sunday, click here.
RENTAL ASSISTANCE FUNDING AVAILABLE TO TENANTS IMPACTED BY THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC: JULY 30TH DEADLINE TO APPLY
Thanks to funding made available through the federal CARES Act, the COVID Rent Relief Program will be able to provide families with up to 4 months of rental assistance. Applications are available here and the application period will only be open for two weeks. To be eligible, household income before March 1, 2020 must have been below 80% of the area median income (AMI). Click here to find the county AMI as adjusted by household size. Criteria for eligibility for the COVID Rent Relief Program also includes the household paying 30% of gross monthly income towards rent and having lost income between April 1, 2020 to July 31, 2020. Click here to find out more about the COVID Rent Relief Program in English & Spanish.
REOPENING WESTCHESTER COUNTY
Westchester County Executive George Latimer has established a School Reopening Working Group to assist local school districts with reopening this fall. The working group will provide information and support around the areas of public health, emergency preparedness and response. Leading the working group will be Deputy Commissioner of the Westchester County Department of Community Mental Health Joseph Glazer, White Plains Superintendent Joe Ricca, and members of Westchester County Government. To read more about this effort, click here.
As always, feel free to contact my office at (914) 934-5250 or firstname.lastname@example.org if there is an issue with which we can offer assistance or if you have questions about reopening for yourself or your business.
Shelley B. Mayer