Legislative Update: March 2020
ACEC Legislative Update

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New York State

COVID-19 Affects State Government and Legislative Process

As COVID-19 continues to emerge as a major public health crisis, ACEC New York is committed to bringing the latest policy and safety-related information to our members. Please visit our COVID-19 Legislative and Public Agency Resources page for up-to-date information on State, Federal and Local governmental responses to this evolving situation. As this emergency progresses, we are coordinating our obligation to follow public health transmission-stopping measures with our duty to advocate for the Industry's policy objectives.

The State Capitol closed to the public on Saturday to stem the spread of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus. The State budget is still scheduled to be finalized by April 1. However, uncertainty surrounds whether the final budget will address any of this year’s high profile policy items or instead focus on funding. The Senate and Assembly have both canceled multiple Session days this week, and announcements from both houses indicate that they will evaluate proceeding on a day-to-day basis.

ACEC New York has 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 COVID Paid Sick Leave, Bill Signed. On March 17, The Governor’s office announced a three-way agreement on his program bill detailing a paid sick leave program to protect workers and enhance public safety. The amount of sick leave varies in relation to the size of employer. The leave is in addition to existing leave offered by firms, but only available to those under quarantine. The bill, signed into law on March 18, provides provisions for certain employee benefits when such employee is subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Read more about the provisions here and here.

Executive Order 202.6 Released. Excluded Essential Businesses Include Construction. On March 18, 2020, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued executive order 202.6 related to density reduction and utilization of telecommuting and work-from home measures. Specifically, the Order requires that each employer shall reduce the in-person workforce at any work locations by 50% no later than March 20 at 8 P.M. This reduction has subsequently been reduced to 25%, and the documentation memorializing this order will be shared as it becomes available. Of special note, Order 202.6 creates exemptions for essential businesses. Among those businesses is construction. ACEC New York is in contact with key Administrative staff to determine the specific contours of this exemption, and how it applies to the design and construction inspection tasks performed by ACEC New York members.

MTA 10 Percent Reduction. ACEC New York leadership continues to meet with Congressional representatives and their staff members to push for Congressional action on this issue. ACEC New York believes that this reduction violates Federal procurement law and that specific Federal administrative agencies should take further steps to communicate their objection to this issue. We expect a letter to be sent soon.

DPC ESOP Expansion. ACEC New York government affairs staff continues its advocacy efforts on this legislation. Our efforts include amending the legislation to further align the proposal with New York State's professional ownership policies and further safeguard the profession. Our efforts will include continued meetings with State Education and Assembly Higher Education staff as the Session progresses.

Grandfather Firm Geologist Legislation. ACEC New York continues to communicate with State Education Department representatives regarding this critical measure. Passage will ensure grandfather engineering firms are able to provide geology services equivalent to those provided before the 2014 licensure of Professional Geologists.


Federal

Federal Response to COVID-19. On March 14, 2020, the House passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) by a vote of 363-40. For a list of employer-related provisions, visit our COVID-19 Legislative Resource webpage. The bill was subsequently passed by the Senate and signed by the President.

Federal PAC. ACEC New York has raised $11,365 towards our $95,000 year-end goal. Thank you to our donors to date. For more information on donations, including purchasing sweepstakes tickets, or to make a donation to the PAC, contact NYS Director of Government Relations Campbell Wallace at campbell@acecny.org.


New York City

COVID-19 impact on NYC Legislative Process. Many City government offices are implementing a work-from-home policy including the City Council and the Comptroller’s Office. Council Speaker Johnson and Mayor de Blasio have temporarily suspended the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) and City budget hearing deadlines, as well as the Council’s requirement to hold a minimum number of hearings per month. There will be no City Council hearings until further notice.

PASSPort update.
The Mayor’s Office of Contract Services (MOCS) provided an update on PASSPort Release 3 - the City's plan to create online procurement processes across all Mayoral agencies from RFP through Contract Registration. As of March 19, MOCS said Release 3 is on track to launch this Spring. MOCS noted City agencies will need speed, transparency and streamlining of digital procurement now more than ever given the circumstances. MOCS directed members to the PASSPort webpage to monitor for relevant information and training material. Release 4 – online invoicing – is planned to launch in Winter 2020/21. ACEC New York will be in contact with MOCS to understand whether COVID-19 will affect the city’s timeline for launching these new online processes and to participate in industry feedback sessions on Release 4.

NYC DOB – Structural filings. NYC DOB provided a response to comments ACEC New York submitted regarding an existing longer-term issue that member firms have been experiencing with the DOB NOW system and structural filing. As of last week, DOB is planning to implement programming changes in May/June. DOB said structural filers will also see changes/improvements during the General Construction release later this year.


 

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