New York Capital Brief:

NYS Legislature ‘Gavels In’ for 2021 Session
The New York State Senate and Assembly kicked off the 2021 session on Wednesday, with most members participating virtually and very few members present in the Chambers. In December, the legislature convened briefly to extend the resolution that allows lawmakers to conduct all legislative session and voting procedures remotely through 2021. This rule change was initially implemented in March as a response to the COVID pandemic.

“Here is New York, tens of thousands of our family members, friends, colleagues and constituents have died, businesses have been closed, jobs have been lost,” Stewart-Cousins said. “We are a changed state, and we’re a changed nation.”

Governor Cuomo announced that his State of the State address, which is expected to be delivered next week, will include proposals to expand sports betting and legalizing recreational marijuana.  According to the Governor, the two measures could bring in a combined total of $800 million dollars in new revenues.

Cuomo Teases State of the State Priorities
The first proposal includes measures to legalize and create a comprehensive government system to oversee and regulate adult-use cannabis in New York. The proposal would establish a new Office of Cannabis Management, create a structure for licensing opportunities, and offer assistance to entrepreneurs in communities of color who have been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs. Once fully implemented, legalization is expected to generate more than $300 million in tax revenue.

The second proposal would expand sports wagering to include mobile betting. Under the proposal, the New York State Gaming Commission will identify a sports operator or platform to offer mobile sports wagering. This operator or platform must have a partnership with one of the existing licensed commercial casinos.

Cuomo Calls for Increased Travel Precautions

Governor Cuomo is urging the federal government to take action in light of a new, highly contagious variant of the COVID-19 virus circulating in the United Kingdom. The Governor called on the federal government to consider implementing multiple restrictions, including imposing mandatory testing of individuals traveling from the U.K. on flights to the United States, as well as a new travel ban from Europe. Cuomo asserts that these recommendations take into account lessons learned from March, when he claims the federal government was too late in responding to the virus.

NYS Capitol Security Enhanced

On Wednesday, a small-scale political protest was held outside of the New York State Capitol that resulted in two hospitalizations. According to law enforcement, an altercation broke out between “rally-goers and counter-protestors, two of the rally-goers were stabbed by a counter-protester.

The violence in Albany took place as Governor Cuomo was giving a coronavirus briefing just inside the Capitol. It also occurred as Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul was swearing in members of the state Senate.

In light of the riot at Washington D.C.’s Capitol building, New York State Capitol security has been enhanced and local police departments are regularly patrolling the surrounding area. As of Thursday, State Street by the Capitol is closed to traffic until further notice.

Buffalo Bills Demo Program Approved

Governor Cuomo and the Department of Health have approved the Buffalo Bills’ proposal to permit a limited number of fans into the stadium next week as the Bills host a Wild Card playoff game for the first time in 25 years.

NY Micro-Cluster Strategy

The Micro-Cluster Strategy identifies clusters and the areas around them and categorizes them into one or more color-coded zones with corresponding levels of restrictions based on severity: Red Zones, Orange Zones, and Yellow Zones. New rules and restrictions directly target areas with the highest transmission of COVID-19 cases & surrounding communities.

Click here to view the restrictions and check your address.

NY’s Travel Advisory Update

*International Travel Update*
Travelers entering NY from the United Kingdom must produce a negative test prior to boarding flights on British Airways, Delta Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic.

Under Executive Order, New York has implemented a COVID testing requirement for those entering/re-entering NY from other states and from countries at Level 2 and 3 COVID-risk.

According to the Order, instead of a mandatory 14-day quarantine, all people* entering NY will have to bring proof of a negative COVID test. The results must be from a test taken within three days of coming into NY from a non-contiguous state.** Upon arrival, all travelers must quarantine for three days. On the fourth day, the traveler must get another test. Once the second test comes back negative, the person is no longer required to quarantine.

*Essential workers will continue to be exempt from this mandate.

**These new rules do not apply to PA, NJ, VA, MA, or CT, although non-essential travel is highly discouraged.