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Governor signs legislation suspending forfeiture of unemployment benefits during COVID-19 state of emergency

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Sat, Jun 13th 2020 09:30 pm

Also signs legislation repealing criminalization of wearing a mask in public

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Saturday signed legislation (S.8275-A/A.10348) suspending the forfeiture of unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 state of emergency, aligning with the executive order he issued on May 14. Over 44 million Americans across the U.S. have applied for unemployment insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic, and this number is expected to grow as the pandemic continues.

Individuals who have had forfeit penalties levied against them from past claims are currently unable to collect their unemployment benefits. This new law will allow those individuals to collect these benefits in their time of need even if forfeit penalties have been enacted against them.

New York State Sen. Monica R. Martinez said, "I would like to thank Gov. Cuomo for his support in signing this crucial piece of legislation, which I am proud to have sponsored to assist many New Yorkers. Bill S.8275, will officially put the minds of so many New Yorkers at ease who have been struggling throughout this pandemic. As we begin to turn the corner, it will take time for so many to recover, and the relief this bill allows will help to get them there. For the many residents which have been bound by forfeit day limitations, the anxiety and uncertainty of how they will make ends meet and secure the basic necessities has come to an end. We are ‘New York Strong!’ "

Assembly Member Linda B. Rosenthal said, "A global pandemic is no time to deny a person lifesaving unemployment benefits. This new law will allow New Yorkers who have lost their jobs to access unemployment benefits without having to forfeit payments due to past mistakes. People have been clamoring for this relief and, with the governor's signature on the bill, we are set to provide it to them."

Cuomo also signed legislation (S.8415/A.10446-A) repealing criminalization of wearing a mask in public. The governor previously issued an executive order requiring New Yorkers wear face coverings while in public to help stop the spread of COVID-19, and this new law will remove any legal conflicts with the outdated provision banning the wearing of masks in public and the governor's executive order.

He also said those protesting – and those policing – are required to wear a mask in public.

New York State Sen. Jamaal Bailey said, "Gov. Cuomo issued an executive order requiring that New Yorkers wear face masks while in public to help stop the spread of COVID-19, but this mandate conflicted with an outdated penal law provision banning the use of such masks. The signing of this bill would lift a nearly 200-year-old ban on wearing masks in public. As we all know, wearing a mask is crucial to stopping the spread of the virus, and no one should face increased scrutiny, harassment and potential criminal liability solely due to a conflict in an archaic law. I thank Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Speaker Carl Heastie, Assemblyman Dan Quart and Gov. Cuomo for ensuring this becomes law."

Assembly Member Dan Quart said, "This pandemic is far from over. That's why it is imperative we remove any barriers to people wearing face masks. Repealing this outdated law will remove any confusion over the legality of face coverings and protect New Yorkers against arrest and prosecution. I thank the governor for signing this bill into law and ensuring everyone feels safe wearing a face mask in public."

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