During the ongoing situation regarding COVID-19, ACEC New York has compiled the following legislative resources and information for engineering firms.
New York State
Urgent news: Empire State Development has issued updated guidance regarding essential construction activity. This new guidance limits types of construction that are deemed "essential" and orders an immediate shutdown of all non-essential construction. Section 9 of the the guidance is reproduced below:
- All non-essential construction must 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 until it is safe to shut the site).
- Essential construction may continue and includes roads, bridges, transit facilities, utilities, hospitals or health care facilities, affordable housing, and homeless shelters. At every site, if essential or emergency non-essential construction, this includes maintaining social distance, including for purposes of elevators/meals/entry and exit. Sites that cannot maintain distance and safety best practices must close and enforcement will be provided by the state in coordination with the city/local governments. This will include fines of up to $10,000 per violation.
- For purposes of this section construction work does not include a single worker, who is the sole employee/worker on a 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
- Gas stations
- 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.
Any facility authorized to conduct video lottery gaming, or casino gaming shall cease operation effective at 8 pm on March 16, 2020, and until further notice. For a Class III Tribal Gaming enterprise or Class II Tribal Gaming enterprise, any facility should also close to the public until further notice.
Any gym, fitness centers or classes, and movie theaters shall also cease operation effective at 8 pm on March 16, 2020 until further notice.
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.
ACEC National COVID-19 Resource Center
ACEC National has compiled and shared results of their COVID-19 Business Impact Survey - Wave 3
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 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.
For information on Paycheck Protection loans, the following members can be contacted for clarification:
- Justin O'Horo, CPA, Partner | Withum
- Amos Gibello, CPA, Partner | Wiss and Company
- Donna McAuliffe, Audit Manager | Grassi & Co.
- Sal Leone, BAS Partner | Citrin Cooperman
- Raymond J. Jacobi, Jr. CPA l, Partner | Mengel Metzger Barr & Co. LLP
- Jack Callahan, CPA, Partner | CohnReznick (732-380-8685)
- Anthony Campolo, CPA, Partner | CohnReznick (914-922-2126)
- Mary Amato, CPA, Partner | CohnReznick (914-922-2116)
OSHA 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
On 4/2/2020, ACEC New York and a coalition of AIA, New York Building Congress, Central Labor Council and other partner groups sent a letter to Mayor de Blasio urging the City to immediately reconsider its suspension of Design projects at City agencies.
Payments from City agencies. Timely and expedited payments are crucial during this time to ensure member firms have cash flow to mitigate COVID-19 economic impacts. ACEC New York and industry partners identified expediting payments as a top priority in a conference call with NYC Deputy Mayor Vicki Been, City agency commissioners, as well as to the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services. We will continue to raise 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 services and City programs. Programs include:
small businesses with fewer than 100 employees seeing a reduction in revenue because of COVID-19 will be eligible for zero interest loans of up to $75,000 to help mitigate losses in profit.
small businesses with fewer than 5 employees will be eligible for a grant to cover 40% of payroll costs for two months to help retain employees.
ACEC New York has been in communication with New York State and New York City agencies and authorities regarding their current policies and directives during the COVID-19 crisis. Below are the agencies we've spoken to; click through to view a summary of ACEC New York's outreach and their current response, as well as any relevant policies and resources.
New York State
NYS Governor's Office
NYS Thruway Authority
NYS Canal Corp
New York City
NYC Mayor's Office of Contract Services
NYC Comptroller's Office