Governor Andrew Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.15 yesterday afternoon. This Executive Order, the sixteenth one issued during this state of emergency, modifies or suspends several New York statutes, laws, codes, rules and regulations as well as sets forth several directives, all of which are designed to combat the COVID-19 crisis in New York State.
NEW AND EXTENDED DIRECTIVES
Governor Cuomo has issued and extended certain directives in Executive Order 202.15 to stem the COVID-19 virus throughout New York State. These directives primarily address the concerns raised by in-person voting that recently occurred in Wisconsin’s primary election as well as other matters designed to limit in-person contact.
Voting in Elections
- Executive Order 202.15 suspends and modifies New York State Election Law to permit the granting of an absentee ballot to a voter on the basis of temporary illness as well as allow for the potential for contraction of the COVID-19 virus to serve as a basis for seeking and granting such ballot. This directive applies for any election held on or before June 23, 2020.
- In New York, a voter is required to make an in-person appearance or provide an in-person signature to obtain an absentee ballot. Executive Order 202.15 suspends this requirement and will permit for an electronic application for an absentee ballot for any election held on or before June 23, 2020, with no requirement for an in-person signature or appearance to access such ballot.
- Pursuant to the new Executive Order, the NYS Tax Department is authorized to accept digital signatures in lieu of handwritten signatures on documents related to the determination or collection of tax liability. Executive Order 202.15, however, does give the Tax Commissioner the ability to determine which documents this directive shall apply to and shall further define the requirements for accepted digital signatures
- Executive Order 202.15 provides that public hearings legally required or scheduled to be held in April or May of 2020 by any local official, state official or local government or school are postponed until June 1, 2020, without prejudice. This Executive Order, however, directs that a hearing may continue if the convening public body or official is able to hold the public hearing remotely, through use of telephone conference, video conference, and/or other similar service.
SUPENDED OR MODIFIED LAWS
As in prior executive orders, Executive Order 202.14 also suspends or modifies certain laws, codes, rules and regulations to aid in New York’s efforts to combat the COVID-19 crisis through May 9, 2020. Unfortunately, a number of these modifications are designed to give the officials flexibility to handle the increasing number of COVID-19 deaths in New York State. The Executive Order, by modifying or suspending the applicable laws, codes, rules and regulations, to the extent necessary:
Funeral and Mortuary Services
- Permits funeral directors licensed and in good standing in any state or territory of the United States to practice as a funeral director in New York State upon the approval of, and pursuant to such conditions as may be imposed by, the Health Commissioner. Such directors can practice without civil or criminal penalty related to lack of a New York license, provided that such funeral director practices under the supervision of a funeral director licensed and registered in New York State;
- Permits funeral directors licensed in New York State, but not registered in New York State, to practice in New York State upon the approval of, and pursuant to such conditions as may be imposed by, the Health Commissioner of Health. Similar to a non-New York licensed director, these funeral directors can practice without civil or criminal penalty related to lack of New York registration, provided that such funeral director practices under the supervision of a funeral director licensed and registered in New York State;
- Allows persons deputized by the Health Commissioner to be agents authorized by a funeral director or undertaker to be present and personally supervise and arrange for removal or transfer of each dead human body;
- Allows persons deputized by the Health Commissioner to be agents authorized by a funeral director or undertaker, or a county coroner, coroner physician and/or medical director for those deceased human bodies within their supervision, to personally supervise and arrange the delivery of a deceased person to the cemetery, crematory or a common carrier, with a copy of the filed death certificate; and
- Enables the State Registrar to register death certificates and issue burial and removal permits, upon the request of a local registrar and upon approval of the Health Commissioner.
Health Care and Mental Health
- Allows bottled and bulk water product facilities currently certified in New York to temporarily, if their stock of regularly used labels has been depleted, distribute bottled or bulk water products without an assigned New York State Department of Health certificate number shown on the product label and use labels authorized in any other state. Once labels showing the assigned certificate number have been obtained, their use must be resumed by the facilities;
- Allows individuals, who graduated from registered or accredited medical programs located in New York in 2020, to practice medicine in New York, without the need to obtain a license and without civil or criminal penalty related to lack of licensure, provided that the practice of medicine by such graduates shall in all cases be supervised by a physician licensed and registered to practice medicine in New York;
- Allows respiratory therapy technicians licensed and in current good standing in any state in the United States to practice in New York State without civil or criminal penalty related to lack of licensure;
- Limits the Health Department’s review functions to essential matters during the pendency of the COVID-19 health crisis. In addition, Executive Order 202.15 serves to toll any statutory time limits for transfer notices pertaining to Article 28 (public health care facilities) and Article 36 (home health care) licensed entities for the duration of this declaration of disaster emergency, and any subsequent continuation of the emergency declaration;
- Permits mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, creative arts therapists and psychanalysts licensed and in current good standing in any state in the United States to practice in New York State without civil or criminal penalty related to lack of licensure;
- Permits manufacturers, repackers, or wholesalers of prescription drugs or devices, physically located outside of New York and not registered in New York, but licensed and/or registered in any other state, to deliver into New York, prescription drugs or devices; and
- Allows that a New York-licensed pharmacy may receive drugs and medical supplies or devices from an unlicensed pharmacy, wholesaler, or third-party logistics provider located in another state to alleviate a temporary shortage of a drug or device that could result in the denial of health care under the following conditions:
- The unlicensed location is appropriately licensed in its home state, and documentation of the license verification can be maintained by the New York pharmacy.
- The pharmacy maintains documentation of the temporary shortage of any drug or device received from any pharmacy, wholesaler, or third-party logistics provider not licensed in New York.
- The pharmacy complies with all record-keeping requirements for each drug and device received from any pharmacy, wholesaler, or third-party logistics provider not licensed in New York.
- All documentation and records required above shall be maintained and readily retrievable for three years following the end of the declared emergency.
- The drug or device was produced by an authorized FDA registered drug manufacturer.
- Suspends those public hearing requirements set out in certain articles of the Environmental Conservation Law, provided that public comments shall still be accepted either electronically or by mail, to satisfy public participation requirements. These Articles include public hearing requirements in (a) Environmental Quality Review, (b) Water Pollution Control, (c) Air Pollution Control, (d) Collection, Treatment and Disposal of Refuse and other Solid Waste, (e) Pesticides, (f) Detergents and Other Household Cleansing Products, (g) Substances Hazardous or Acutely Hazardous to Public Health, Safety or the Environment;
- Suspends public hearings in connection with processing certain permit application under the Environmental Conversation Law, provided that public comments may be accepted as written submissions, either electronically or by mail, or that any required appearances may be done so by teleconferencing or other electronic means; and
- Suspends for the duration of Executive Order 202.15 public meetings prior to a selection of a final remedy at inactive hazardous waste disposal sites and public meetings at certain brownfield cleanup program sites, provided that written comments on proposed remedies can continue to be submitted and will be evaluated in remedial decision.
- Extends the expiration date of notices of proposed rulemakings until 90 calendar days after Executive Order 202.15, as it may be continued, terminates.
- Delays the requirement that parents must file transportation requests with their school district by April 1, 2020 to obtain transportation for their children for the following school year; and
- Allows Protestant Episcopal parishes to postpone any annual election and notice to the parish of such election during the state disaster emergency absent formal resolution and ratification by meeting.
The copy of Executive Order 202.15 that accompanies this email specifically identifies the applicable laws impacted under these provisions.