Governor Cuomo Announces Several Reopenings, Selvena Brooks-Powers Declared Winner in NYC’s First Ranked-Choice Vote Count, NYC Council Passes and Introduces New Legislation, New Episodes of Employment Law Now and Beltway Briefing

March 22, 2021

Governor Cuomo Announces Several Reopenings

Last week, Governor Cuomo made several reopening announcements. On Thursday, Governor Cuomo announced that professional sports in large outdoor stadiums that hold 10,000 people or more will be allowed to reopen at 20% capacity starting on April 1, with attendees needing to show proof of a completed vaccine or a recent negative test. As a result, the Yankees and the Mets will start the season with in person fans on April 1. Cuomo also announced that smaller sports venues that hold 1,500 people indoors or 2,500 people outdoors can also reopen on April 1 at 10% indoors and 20% outdoors. Earlier in the week, Cuomo announced that beginning March 22, indoor fitness classes can begin reopening statewide at 33% capacity. The classes will need to collect contact information and require health screenings at sign-in. Further, the Governor stated that beginning April 5, the 11 pm curfew currently in place for casinos, movie theaters, bowling alleys, billiards halls, gyms and fitness centers will be lifted.

Selvena Brooks-Powers Declared Winner in NYC’s First Ranked-Choice Vote Count

Last Thursday, the NYC Board of Elections announced that Selvena Brooks-Powers was the winner of the special election to represent Queens’ City Council District 31, which covers the neighborhoods of Far Rockaway and parts of Southeast Queens. This was an historic moment in NYC election history, as this marked the first instance that ranked-choice voting has been used to determine the winner of an election since the program was approved by voters in 2019. To determine the winner, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and voters who picked that candidate will have their second choice tallied, which continues until someone gets more than 50% of the vote. After gaining 38% of the vote on election day about three weeks prior, Brooks-Powers added to her lead during the reallocation of votes under ranked-choice voting. After nine rounds of runoffs, she crossed the 50% threshold needed to win. Pesach Osina finished in second, going from 35% of the vote on election day to about 39% after runoffs. Brooks-Powers will replace former Council Member Donovan Richards, who now serves as Queen Borough President.

NYC Council Passes and Introduces New Legislation

Last Thursday, the NYC Council convened a stated meeting, where they passed and introduced multiple pieces of legislation. The Council passed a package of bill to strengthen and expand current lead laws to protect children. The legislation will expand inspections when a child tests positive for having elevated blood lead levels and establish requirements to strengthen interagency communication, tenant notification, and inspections related to lead-based paint and lead dust hazards. They also passed a bill that will require the City to create a unified scheduling system for COVID-19 vaccinations. The Council introduced legislation that would require that employees laid off as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic be offered the same or similar position first, once the position from which they were terminated or another similar position becomes available. There was also a bill introduced that would extend temporary personal guaranty protection provisions for commercial tenants impacted by COVID-19 from March 31 to June 30. You can find all of the bills passed and introduced here.

New “Employment Law Now” Podcast Episode Released

This morning, Cozen O’Connor’s very own Mike Schmidt, Vice Chair of the firm’s Labor & Employment Department and the Office Managing Partner of the New York office, released a new episode of his podcast, “Employment Law Now”. In under half an hour, Mike provides updates on Congress’ new and expanded FFCRA scheme for federal Covid-19 leave, OSHA’s new National Emphasis Program to address COVID-19, the DOL’s sudden reversal on prior independent contractor and joint employer rules, and the first state in the country to require paid leave to get vaccinated. You can download and listen to the new episode on iTunes, Spotify, and Google Play.

Public Strategies Team Guest-Hosts on New “Beltway Briefing” Podcast Episode

Over the weekend, New York Public Strategies’ Ken Fisher, Stuart Shorenstein, Katie Schwab, and Rose Christ guest-hosted an episode of the Beltway Briefing podcast, breaking down the state of New York politics. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo faces growing pressure to resign in the wake of numerous allegations of sexual harassment. The allegations, which followed a mushrooming scandal around the deaths of nursing home residents, are complicating other political priorities in the state – including negotiation of the State Budget, leaving many to wonder just how long the three-term governor can hold on. Meanwhile, the 2021 New York City mayoral race is heating up, as incumbent Bill de Blasio is barred from running for third term by term limits. The primaries, scheduled for June, will be the first New York City mayoral election to use ranked-choice voting, as opposed to the plurality voting of previous primaries. The new mayor will inherit a city reeling from COVID-19, high unemployment, surging gun violence, and an exodus of residents. You can listen to the episode here.

Please contact Katie Schwab or Rose Christ of Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies with any questions you may have regarding this note or if you’re interested in ways to engage on these issues.

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