ALBANY — State lawmakers passed a package of COVID-19 related bills Wednesday that extended the Child Victims Act, reversed an old law banning public mask wearing and banned price gouging of medical supplies.
The 63-member state Senate and 150-member Assembly chambers, normally packed with pols and staff, were eerily empty as pols voted remotely from kitchen tables or from the confines of their Albany offices.
Some voted in person, donning masks and staying six feet apart.
Legislation that cleared both chambers and await Gov. Cuomo’s signature before passing into law include:
- A one year extension of the Child Victims Act look-back window from Aug. 2020 to Aug. 2021, allowing childhood sexual abuse to file claims after their statute of limitations expired. It goes further than Cuomo’s emergency executive order, extending the deadline to Jan. 2021.
- A bill decriminalizing public mask wearing. Cuomo’s emergency order mandating New Yorkers wear COVID-19 protective masks required the temporary suspension of the law, which defines masquerading as a form of loitering.
- Legislation banning evictions of residential tenants that have “suffered a financial hardship” due to the pandemic. The date is extended until the end of New York’s state of emergency. Gov. Cuomo’s eviction moratorium sunsets in Aug. 2020.
- A bill that expands the list of consumer goods and services protected from price gouging if deemed “vital or necessary to the health, safety, and welfare of consumers or the general public,” including ventilators.
Lawmakers are expected to be back in session Thursday, anticipating debate and potential votes on several other measures including a bill authorizing $7 billion in borrowing power for a broke New York City.