MANH Lawmakers on the Move, Apr. 17, 2020

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Cuomo Issues Executive Order Requiring All New Yorkers to Wear Face Masks

Governor Andrew Cuomo
Governor Andrew Cuomo

Today, Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) will enact his executive order requiring New Yorkers to wear face masks when they go out in public.

Cuomo first announced the order last Wednesday, Apr. 15. Starting today, all New Yorkers must wear facial coverings when out in public, or in any other situation where social distancing is impossible. He also announced that he will give New Yorkers a “three-day notice” before enforcing the order, to give them time to acquire a mask if they haven’t already.

“You don’t have a right to infect me,” said Cuomo. “If you are going to be in a situation in public where you may come into contact with other people in a situation that is not socially distanced, you must have a mask or a cloth covering nose and mouth. That is by executive order.”

Nadler, Cohen Challenge Trump’s Assertion of “Total” Authority

U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler
U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler

Last Wednesday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan, Brooklyn) and Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties Chairman Steve Cohen (D-TN) sent a letter to the Democratic Caucus, debunking President Donald Trump’s (R) controversial statement regarding his authority over state governments.

Earlier, Trump asserted during a press briefing that he has “total” authority to reopen the country and force state governments to relax social distancing measures. However, as Nadler and Cohen wrote, the Constitution does not delegate any such power to the President.

“President Trump was doubly wrong to claim ‘total’ authority to dictate States’ public health policies,” they wrote. “Unsurprisingly, he cannot point to any specific law that supposedly gives him that power. Nor does it rest hidden somewhere in the Constitution. On the contrary, the Tenth Amendment makes clear that ‘[t]he powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.’

“Regulation of public health is precisely the type of authority traditionally reserved to the States. Congress, of course, may also enact laws to protect public health and safety, including through its authority to regulate interstate commerce. Using that authority, Congress would have the power, under the Supremacy Clause, to preempt state laws that might otherwise restrict economic activity. But Congress has never given the President the kind of open-ended authority he claimed in his Monday evening briefing.”

Read the full letter here.

James Takes Action to Protect Small Businesses Impacted by Coronavirus

Attorney General of NY Letitia James
Attorney General of NY Letitia James

Yesterday, New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) issued guidance to help small businesses utilize the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

The PPP issues forgivable, low-interest, federally-backed loans to small businesses in need of assistance. James’s guide, available here, details who is eligible for a PPP loan, and how to apply for one. It also provides guidance on how to recognize and avoid fraudulent PPP lenders.

“Hardworking families and small businesses across the country are struggling more than ever because of this pandemic,” said James. “These businesses are the backbone of our economy and our households and we must ensure they have the resources they need to stay afloat and support their employees. It’s imperative that small businesses know about the financial aid that is available and aren’t duped in the process of applying for these lifelines.”

Johnson, Dromm, Gibson Assess Mayor’s FY 2021 Budget

Council Member Corey Johnson
Council Member Corey Johnson (Credit: Jeff Reed)

Yesterday, Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen), Council Finance Committee Chair Daniel Dromm (D-Queens) and Capital Budget Subcommittee Chair Vanessa Gibson (D-Bronx) issued the following joint statement after Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) released his plan for the Fiscal Year 2021 Budget:

“These are unprecedented times, and we begin budget negotiations facing challenges we have never faced before. We know that in these difficult times we will be forced to make tough decisions. Our guiding principal will be to ensure that the most vulnerable New Yorkers are protected and that we keep providing critical social services. We will use our upcoming budget process, which will be done remotely for the first time in Council history, to determine the best ways to deal with the extreme economic challenges we are facing as a City.

“The Council is proud that for the past two years, one of our top priorities was to increase city budget reserves. This was the right thing to do for the city’s fiscal health, and those reserves will now help us in our efforts to battle this pandemic that’s ravaging our city.

“It is important to note as that as the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis in this country, New York City needs and deserves significant federal funding to help us weather this pandemic.

“Although we are faced with unprecedented challenges, we know that New York City has faced difficult times before and emerged stronger. We are confident we will get through this as well. The Council is committed to working throughout this budget process for all New Yorkers, and to prioritize the common good.”