Legislative and Public Agency Resources

ACEC New York has compiled the following legislative and agency resources and information for engineering firms.

 

NYS and NYC Public Agencies

Below are links to relevant policies and resources from New York City and New York State agencies.

New York State

NYS Canal Corp (4/22/20)

NYS Department of State (4/7/20)

NYS DOT (4/8/20)

NYS Education (3/20/20)

NYS EFC (3/28/20)

NYS ESD (4/9/20)

NYS Governor's Office (3/19/20)

NYS OGS (4/7/20)

NYS Thruway Authority (3/23/20)

SUCF (3/23/20)

New York City

Con Edison (3/20/20)

FDNY (5/11/20)

MTA (6/24/20)

NYC Comptroller's Office (3/19/20)

NYC DDC (3/27/20)

NYC DEP (9/2/20)

NYC DOB (9/15/20)

NYC DOT (4/6/20)

NYC Housing Authority (4/23/20)

NYC Mayor's Office (5/29/20)

NYC Mayor's Office of Contract Services (8/10/20)

NYC SCA (3/30/20)

PANYNJ (4/1/20)


New York State

(for NYS agency news, visit the Public Agency section)

NYS Regional Dashboard

Phased Reopening Continues. All regions of the state are now in Phase 4.

Reopening guidance can be found on the NY Forward website. Offices including those providing professional services or supporting construction are among the spaces and Included in this guidance. Summary guidelines, detailed guidelines with affirmation and fillable safety plans are all offered on the site.

ACEC New York confirmed with the Governor’s counsel’s office that affirming the guidelines is necessary for businesses reopening. The guidance states, in relevant part: “A business may fill out this template to fulfill the requirement, or may develop its own Safety Plan. This plan does not need to be submitted to a state agency for approval but must be retained on the premises of the business and must made available to the New York State Department of Health (DOH) or local health or safety authorities in the event of an inspection.”

May 29, 2020. In conjunction with multiple regions of the State approaching Phase II reopening status, Governor Cuomo’s office has released additional guidance for office-based businesses. Phase II reopening includes professional services. Many professional design and engineering firms continued working in their capacity supporting essential construction and public works and various analyses supported their inclusion in Phase I reopening. Phase II captures all remaining professional services and is applicable to parts of industries already operating under Phase I such as the front office of a construction firm.

The guidance specifically excludes addressing commercial building owners and managers, which is covered under separate guidance. 

The guidance sets standards related to social distancing, enclosed space gatherings, workplace activity,  protective equipment, cleaning and disinfection and other subjects. Of specific note is that the guidance mandates, among other things:

  • A 50% occupancy level in subject offices
  • Six-foot distancing and use of masks when such distancing is not possible
  • Posting of DOH-compliant COVID-19 signage
  • Limiting in-person gatherings
  • Provide PPE to employees at no cost
  • Provide in-office hand hygiene stations
  • Provide daily health screening for employees
  • Affirm reading and understanding of these guidelines

This is not a complete list and the full document should be read for complete understanding.

May 14, 2020: Central New York Joins North Country, Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley Regions, Which Have Met the Seven Metrics Required to Begin Reopening After NYS on Pause Orders Expire on May 15th. Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that as of today, Central New York has met all seven metrics required to begin phase one of the state's regional phased reopening plan when NYS on PAUSE orders expire on May 15th, joining the North Country, Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley Regions. If the trend continues, these five regions can begin opening businesses for phase one, which includes construction; manufacturing and wholesale supply chain; retail for curbside pickup and drop-off or in-store pickup; and agriculture, forestry and fishing.

May 14, 2020: New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo released reopening guidance to a number of industries included in Phase 1 reopening plans, including the construction industry.  The guidance includes a short guide "Reopening New York - Construction Guidelines For Employers and Employees" and a more detailed document "Interim Guidance for Construction Activities During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency" which lists minimum requirements for people, places and processes, based on best-known public health practices at this time. The guidance requires affirmation by clicking to indicate that the document has been read.

In addition, the guidance includes a safety plan template for ensuring compliance and safe worksites.

May 4, 2020: New York Reopening Process to Begin in 4 Phases
The state's PAUSE order expires on May 15, and Governor Cuomo said regions and businesses should start working now on their reopening plans, which will happen in four phases

On April 15, the Office of the Governor released Executive Order 202.17, which requires, "any individual who is over age two and able to medically tolerate a face-covering shall be required to cover their nose and mouth with a mask or cloth face-covering when in a public place and unable to maintain, or when not maintaining, social distance." This order will go into effect at 8:00 PM on April 17.

April 9, 2020: Empire State Development has issued updated guidance regarding essential construction activity. Section 9 of the the guidance is reproduced below:

9. Construction

All non-essential construction must safely shut down, except emergency construction, (e.g. a project necessary to protect health and safety of the occupants, or to continue a project if it would be unsafe to allow to remain undone, but only to the point that it is safe to suspend work).

Essential construction may proceed, to the extent that:

  • the construction is for, or your business supports, roads, bridges, transit facilities, utilities, hospitals or healthcare facilities, homeless shelters, or public or private schools;

  • the construction is for affordable housing, as defined as construction work where either (i) a minimum of 20% of the residential units are or will be deemed affordable and are or will be subject to a regulatory agreement and/or a declaration from a local, state, or federal government agency or (ii) where the project is being undertaken by, or on behalf of, a public housing authority;

  • the construction is necessary to protect the health and safety of occupants of a structure;

  • the construction is necessary to continue a project if allowing the project to remain undone would be unsafe, provided that the construction must be shut down when it is safe to do so;

  • the construction is for projects in the energy industry in accordance with Question No. 14 in the FAQ;

  • the construction is for existing (i.e. currently underway) projects of an essential business; or

  • the construction work is being completed by a single worker who is the sole employee/worker on the job site.

Members should note the social distancing requirements and fines levied on violators of the Order.


New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation issued updated (3.28.2020) guidance on essential water and wastewater projects: Pursuant to Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order 202.6 and the Empire State Development’s Guidance For Determining Whether a Business Enterprise is Subject To a Workforce Reduction Under Recent Executive Orders, amended March 27, 2020, all water and wastewater construction projects are deemed essential construction services and construction may continue. Every construction site must maintain social distancing and safety best practices.


EO 202: What You Need to Know

  • The Governor and Legislature have an agreement on a bill guaranteeing job protection and pay for New Yorkers who have been quarantined as a result of novel coronavirus.
  • The bill also includes the permanent comprehensive paid sick leave policy
  • Governor Cuomo signed an executive order directing all schools in New York to close by Wednesday, March 18 for two weeks ending April 1.
  • Casinos, gyms, theaters are closed until further notice.
  • Bars and restaurants are closed, but takeout can be ordered during the period of closure.
  • Strongly advise only services and businesses that are essential stay open after 8:00PM
    • Groceries
    • Gas stations
    • Pharmacies
    • Medical facilities
  • All local governments must reduce their workforce by at least 50%. Non-essential state workers are working from home.
  • New York State is waiving all park fees in state, local and county parks.
  • Testing is free for all eligible New Yorkers as ordered by a health care provider.
  • Your local health department is your community contact for COVID-19 concerns.

In addition, the following executive orders impose these restrictions:

EO 202.10 "Non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason (e.g. parties, celebrations or other social events) are canceled or postponed at this time."

EO 202.7: "Effective March 21, 2020 at 8 p.m. and until further notice, all barbershops, hair salons, tattoo or piercing parlors and related personal care services will be closed to members of the public. This shall also include nail technicians, cosmetologists and estheticians, and the provision of electrolysis, laser hair removal services, as these services cannot be provided while maintaining social distance. "

EO 202.5: "Effective at 8 p.m. March 19, 2020, all indoor common portions of retail shopping malls with in excess of 100,000 square feet of retail space available for lease shall close and cease access to the public. Any stores located within shopping malls, which have their own external entrances open to the public, separate from the general mall entrance, may remain open, subject to the requirements of Executive Order 202.3 that any restaurant shall limit itself to take out or delivery food services, and that any interior entrances to common areas of the mall remain closed and locked.

Additionally, all places of public amusement, whether indoors or outdoors, including but not limited to, locations with amusement rides, carnivals, amusement parks, water parks, aquariums, zoos, arcades, fairs, children’s play centers, funplexes, theme parks, bowling alleys, family and children’s attractions shall likewise be closed to the public at 8 p.m. on March 19.  This directive shall not apply to public parks and open recreation areas.

EO 202.3: Any restaurant or bar in the state of New York shall cease serving patrons food or beverage on-premises effective at 8 pm on March 16, 2020, and until further notice shall only serve food or beverage for off-premises consumption. Notwithstanding any provision of the alcohol and beverage control law, a retail on-premises licensee shall be authorized for the duration of this Executive Order to sell alcohol for off-premises consumption, which shall include either take-out or delivery, subject to reasonable limitations set by the State Liquor Authority.


COVID-19 Affects State Government and Legislative Process

The State Capitol closed to the public on Saturday to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. The State budget, scheduled to be finalized by April 1 is likely to avoid addressing most of this year’s high profile policy items and instead will focus on funding. The Senate and Assembly have both canceled Session days this week, and announcements from both houses indicate that they will evaluate proceeding on a day-to-day basis.

ACEC New York contacted State Agencies to discuss ongoing contracting and procurement. While a full picture is still developing, initial discussions indicate an intent to continue with programs, subject to the understanding that the situation is evolving rapidly.


Three-Way Agreement on Statewide COVID Response.

On March 17, The Governor’s office announced a three-way agreement on his program bill detailing a number of policy measures intended to protect workers and enhance public safety. The bill is detailed in depth on the Governor’s website.

As of March 18, the bill has been referred to committee.

Specific measures listed are:

  • Employers with 10 or fewer employees and a net income less than $1 million will provide job protection for the duration of the quarantine order and guarantee their workers access to Paid Family Leave and disability benefits (short-term disability) for the period of quarantine including wage replacement for their salaries up to $150,000.

  • Employers with 11-99 employees and employers with 10 or fewer employees and a net income greater than $1 million will provide at least 5 days of paid sick leave, job protection for the duration of the quarantine order, and guarantee their workers access to Paid Family Leave and disability benefits (short-term disability) for the period of quarantine including wage replacement for their salaries up to $150,000.

  • Employers with 100 or more employees, as well as all public employers (regardless of number of employees), will provide at least 14 days of paid sick leave and guarantee job protection for the duration of the quarantine order. 

The bill also includes paid sick leave language originally proposed in the Budget:

  • Employers with 4 or fewer employees and a net income less than $1 million will provide at least 5 days of unpaid sick leave each year.

  • Employers with 5-99 employees and employers with 4 or fewer employees and a net income greater than $1 million will provide at least 5 days of paid sick leave each year.

  • Employers with 100 or more employees will provide at least 7 days of paid sick leave each year. 

Clean Energy Industry Business Letter

ACEC New York members active in the energy and environment space, especially those working with the Department of Public Service, NYSERDA, NYPA, Department of Environmental Conservation and Long Island Power Authority should note a letter released on April 1 detailing the State's continues commitment to its green energy mission and offering information gathering sessions to clients and support businesses.


Federal

ACEC National COVID-19 Resource Center

June 4.

PPP Loan Program Undergoes Significant Revision. The Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 passed the House on May 28, and was approved by the Senate Wednesday evening. The bill was driven by bipartisan sponsors in both houses, and if signed by President Trump, would, as summarized by the Congressional Research Service:

  • Establish a minimum maturity of five years for a paycheck protection loan with a remaining balance after forgiveness.
  • Extend the covered period during which a loan recipient may use such funds for certain expenses while remaining eligible for forgiveness.
  • Raise the non-payroll portion of a forgivable covered loan amount from the current 25% up to 40%.
  • Extend the period in which an employer may rehire or eliminate a reduction in employment, salary, or wages that would otherwise reduce the forgivable amount of a paycheck protection loan. However, the forgivable amount must be determined without regard to a reduction in the number of employees if the recipient is (1) unable to rehire former employees and is unable to hire similarly qualified employees, or (2) unable to return to the same level of business activity due to compliance with federal requirements or guidance related to COVID-19.
  • Revise the deferral period for paycheck protection loans, allowing recipients to defer payments until they receive compensation for forgiven amounts. Recipients who do not apply for forgiveness shall have 10 months from the program's expiration to begin making payments.
  • Eliminate a provision that makes a paycheck protection loan recipient who has such indebtedness forgiven ineligible to defer payroll tax payments.

May 13

The Small Business Administration (SBS), in consultation with the Department of the Treasury,  have updated their FAQ document, Question 46 regarding the safe harbor and required certification, and Question 47 related to an extension.


May 13: EEOC Updated Guidance FAQs on COVID-19-affected Workers

The Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is maintaining guidance and frequently asked questions related to accommodations for COVID-19-affected workers. Guidance includes information about allowable health information gathering under the Americans with Disabilities Act.


CARES Act/PPP Loans

(Update May 6, 2020) The U.S. Small Business Administration announced that there were still PPP funds available. On May 5 they sent a communication that confirmed this. "As of 5pm yesterday, the PPP program still has nearly $130 billion in available funding. The tremendous backlog of applications at many lenders from round 1 appears to be mostly resolved, and SBA is strongly encouraging businesses to get their applications now if they have not yet. SBA and Treasury have clarified a significant number of common questions and concerns about the program via Interim Final Rule and FAQ’s (though the forgiveness procedures are still pending). Our office is available to answer questions and discuss the program with your constituents if your organization would like to schedule a conference call or webinar on Covid-19 relief for small businesses."

ACEC National Senior Vice President for Advocacy and External Affairs Steve Hall has provided a summary and analysis of pending Federal legislation. ACEC National has also provided guidance on the Paycheck Protection Program.

(Updated 5/4/20) The Treasury Department created an FAQ on Paycheck Protection Loans. For additional information on Paycheck Protection loans, the following members can be contacted for clarification:


On 4/3/20, ACEC National gave a webinar presentation to ACEC New York members on Coronavirus Response Legislation. Download the slides, or view the presentation (may require downloading the WebEx browser extension).

ACEC National has compiled and shared results of their COVID-19 Business Impact Survey - Wave 3


Please see below communications from The US Small Business Administration regarding the lapse in appropriations and effect on PPP/EIDL applications:


OSHA

OSHA provided Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19


DHS and CISA Guidance on Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) released version 2.0 of their "Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce."


Federal Legislation Responding to COVID-19

Late on March 16, 2020, the House passed significant modifications to H.R. 6201 that are designed to mitigate the impact on employers. The Senate is expected to begin consideration of the legislation with the modifications starting today. The White House has indicated support. Changes are indicated in bold.

On March 14, 2020, the House passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) by a vote of 363-40. There are some concerns among Senators that H.R. 6021 requires employers to provide paid leave up front and then apply for tax credits, which could cause cash flow problems. ACEC is coordinating with other business association stakeholders to look for solutions as lawmakers move forward with this latest legislative response to COVID-19.

Employer-related provisions in the House-passed bill include:

Testing: Insurers would be required to cover testing for COVID-19 without cost-sharing or prior authorization requirements.

Emergency paid leave: Private sector employers with fewer than 500 employees and government entities would have to provide 12 weeks of job-protected leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to employees who have been on the payroll at least 30 days and who are unable to work or telework in order to care for a minor child whose school/child care has been closed.

  • The first 10 days of leave could be unpaid, although employees could use accrued PTO during this period.

  • Following the first 10 days, employees must be paid at least two-thirds of their normal pay.

  • Emergency FMLA paid leave would be limited to $200/day or $10,000 in aggregate.

  • DOL would be authorized to exempt businesses with fewer than 50 employees from the paid leave provisions.

  • Emergency sick leave: Private sector employers with fewer than 500 employees and government entities would have to provide paid sick leave to self-quarantine, get a diagnosis for COVID-19, or provide care for a family member in quarantine or a child whose school has closed.

  • 80 hours of paid sick leave for full-time employees.

  • Paid sick leave for part-time employees based on their work hours over a two-week period.

  • The emergency sick leave is on top of any other paid leave provided by the employer.

  • Limited to $511/day or $5,110 in aggregate for an employee’s own illness or quarantine and $200 or $2,000 in aggregate to care for family members.

  • DOL would be authorized to exempt businesses with fewer than 50 employees from the paid sick leave provisions.

  • Employer tax credits: The bill would provide payroll tax credits to employers to cover wages paid while employees are using the emergency paid leave and sick leave established by the legislation.

  • Sick leave credit of as much as $511 per day if the employee is caring for themselves, and as much as $200 per day if the employee is caring for a family member.

  • Family leave credit of as much as $200 per day, or an aggregate of $10,000.

  • Employers could receive the tax credit even if the credit exceeds the amount the employer owes in payroll tax.

Information From Federal Agencies on Critical Infrastructure
Letters were sent from the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security identifying critical infrastructure-related industries.


U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Emergency Response Email Inbox

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sent an email regarding communication: 

In order to ensure a central repository of companies having the capabilities to assist in potential contracts for emergency response is maintained, HQ USACE has established an e-mail inbox to gather this data. If you have not already done so, please forward your companies contact information and capabilities statement to the following address: COVIDContracting@usace.army.mil


New York City

(for NYC agency news, visit the Public Agency section)

(6/8/20) Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) Best Practices for Reentering Commercial Buildings in Phase Two of New York Forward During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Crisis

(6/8/2020) ACEC New York and a large coalition of organizations sent a letter to Mayor de Blasio calling for the Fiscal Year 2021 Capital Budget be funded at pre-COVID 19 levels as investments in infrastructure, public works and capital projects are at the heart of the economy.

(6/5/20) NYC Dept of Buildings - NYC Construction Activity Restarts Monday, June 8. Click here for the city's guidance documents on construction site safety and NYS Interim Guidelines. 

(6/4/20) MOCS offered a video on the PASSPort RFx Portal, a central repository for firms to see upcoming and open contracting opportunities across the City of New York. “RFx” is a PASSPort term that represents the range of City solicitations, including Requests for Information, Requests for Proposals and Invitations to Bid. The RFx Portal and other new PASSPort features are now live.

(6/4/20) MTA issued an Open Letter to the Business Community requesting NYC employers help mitigate COVID-19 by staggering work hours, allowing flexible start times, extending telecommuting plans, and expanding work-from-home opportunities.

As of May 19, ACEC New York has been communicating with NYC Deputy Mayor Laura Anglin’s Office to identify key issues facing the industry and to request updates on topics including the design project pause at City agencies, the capital program and City payments. The Association prepared an information sheet summarizing important elements of the Deputy Mayor’s communications with us.

On May 8, Mayor de Blasio announced Sector Advisory Councils:  Non-Profit and Social Services, Public Health and Healthcare, Faith-based, Construction and Real Estate, Education and Surface Transportation

On April 30, ACEC New York signed onto a multi-organization letter that opposes Council Intros. 1918 and 1923. This letter was sent to New York City Council Speaker Cory Johnson, as well as all Council Members, the Mayor’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and the Governor’s office. On May 5, ACEC New York presented testimony on this issue.

NYC Department of Small Business Services created a webpage "Assistance & Guidance for Businesses Impacted Due to the Novel Coronavirus"   where businesses impacted by COVID-19 can sign up to receive information about financial assistance.