Last week, Governor Cuomo gave his 2021 version of the New York State of the State address. In his address, Governor Cuomo outlined his agenda for 2021, which includes not only New York’s plan to combat COVID-19, but also tackles other critical issues facing New York, including jump starting the economy. In this post, we will briefly recount some of the provisions in the Governor’s agenda.
Passing the Medical Supplies Act
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit our country, New York, along with the rest of the country, faced a serious shortage of basic Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), leaving frontline and healthcare workers vulnerable to contracting COVID-19. To prevent this from happening again, Governor Cuomo proposes that New York pass the Medical Supplies Act, which will prioritize buying American-made PPE and supplies. This policy will help create and retain local jobs while ensuring the State will have the required supplies for the future.
Comprehensive Adult-Use Cannabis Program
In 2019, Governor Cuomo signed legislation which decriminalized penalties for the unlawful possession of marijuana and put forth a process to expunge records for certain marijuana convictions. This year, the Governor is proposing the creation of a new Office of Cannabis Management to oversee an adult-use cannabis program, as well as overseeing the existing medical and cannabinoid hemp programs. This will include offering licensing opportunities for businesses and assistance to entrepreneurs in communities of color. It is estimated that legalizing marijuana will create 60,000 new jobs, prompting $3.5 billion in economic activity and generating more than $300 million in tax revenue when fully implemented.
Online Sports Betting
Along with the legalization of marijuana, the Governor has a plan to legalize online sports betting within the state. In 2018, in Murphy v. NCAA, the Supreme Court overturned a federal law prohibiting states from allowing sports betting. Since then, online sports betting is legal in 14 states, including New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Currently, about 20 percent of New Jersey’s sports betting revenue comes from New York residents. Under this proposal, the New York State Gaming Commission will issue a request for proposals to partner with one or more existing commercial casinos to offer mobile sports betting in New York. The Commission will also require any entity operating a mobile wagering app to include safeguards against abuse and addiction.
Free Citizen Public Health Training
To prepare New York for the next public health crisis, the State will develop a free citizen public health training program. The training program, which will be offered online through Cornell University, will educate and certify New York citizens to be prepared to volunteer to help their communities the next time there is a health emergency.
Create a Rapid Testing Network to Help Business Reopening
New York will continue to scale up the availability of testing for the COVID-19 pandemic by working with testing companies to create a network of convenient testing sites in city centers. New York will work with local governments to reduce any red tape to set up this infrastructure quickly. An increase in testing capacity will allow businesses to safely reduce capacity restrictions and provide an added layer of protection to New Yorkers as economic activity increases. For example, this new network of rapid testing will allow New Yorkers to go to a testing center, get tested, and 15 minutes later be cleared to dine indoors or go see a movie with reduced restrictions.
If you have questions concerning any of the policies discussed in this post, the attorneys at the Wladis Law Firm may be reached at (315) 445-1700 or by emailing your usual firm contacts. We will do our best to provide you with updates and will be available to answer questions as circumstances change.
 138 S. Ct. 1461 (2018).