As the reopening continues across the state and country, the tragedy of George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis has understandably spurred protests across the nation. Unfortunately, some have taken advantage of these peaceful assemblies, bringing with them violence, riots, and looting.
Our Space accessible playground at Recreation Park in Binghamton shortly after its opening in 2016.
Locally, Our Space accessible playground at Recreation Park was destroyed by arsonists. This labor of love was enjoyed by thousands of children and community residents. I am truly heartened to see the outpouring of support and pledges to rebuild this community treasure. If you would like to contribute, click here. I hope we can find a way to come together in the name of justice and peace.
1. PHASE II OF REOPENING UNDERWAY:
Despite some last minute confusion, the Southern Tier entered Phase II of the NY Forward reopening process on May 29th. Businesses include real estate, car dealerships, and hair salons; all are permitted to resume with certain restrictions. For a full list of businesses and guidance for them, visit the state’s Phase II webpage. Our region has really stepped up since the NY On Pause order was issued two months ago, working together and following guidelines to help flatten the curve. This cooperation has been critical to our businesses that have been eagerly waiting to reopen, allowing us to move through the first two phases. In order to stay on track, we will have to continue meeting the established metrics over at least the next two weeks. You can view the Southern Tier’s progress by clicking here.
2. ASSEMBLY & SENATE CONDUCT VIRTUAL HEARING FOR SMALL BUSINESSES:
With COVID-19 having unprecedented effects on the state’s economy, the Legislature convened a hearing on May 13th regarding the impact on small businesses. As Chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, I helped co-host this first-in-history virtual hearing. We heard directly from the small businesses that have taken drastic measures to adjust to the ongoing pandemic. COVID-19 has heightened everyone’s awareness of the importance of local food and our entire agricultural industry. While farming and food production were designated as essential industries, certain markets, like schools and restaurants, were either eliminated or severely diminished overnight. Paired with supply chain interruptions and new workplace safety regulations, this sector of our economy has been upended. The groups that testified highlighted the importance of agriculture to the state and national economy and the need for a strong response from our partners at the federal level. You can read more about this hearing by clicking here.
3. SESSION RESUMES, BILLS PASSED:
While my colleagues and I have been working hard in our districts throughout the pandemic, last week, our legislative session resumed to address some important legislation related to COVID-19. Earlier this year, the Assembly approved new rules that allowed for us to conduct our work remotely. Conferencing, committee meetings, bill debates, and voting were all done through Zoom.
The Assembly Rules Committee convenes via Zoom.
We passed more than 30 bills, including legislation I cosponsored to establish a COVID-19 pension benefit for families of public employees who lose their lives due to workplace exposure to the disease, a bill to authorize Industrial Development Agencies (IDAs) to create a COVID-19 State of Emergency loan program to provide capital funding for small businesses and not-for-profits, and new consumer protections from price gouging related to COVID-19.
4. MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS MONTH:
May was Mental Health Awareness Month and as COVID-19 has persisted, so have the unseen effects it has had on everyone’s mental well-being. Back in April, I convened a virtual meeting of local service providers to discuss their experiences and needs as the pandemic progressed. We are fortunate to have such a dedicated network of professionals that have selflessly kept serving those in need in the community. For a list of providers offering services locally, click here. There are also a number of resources available online to help cope.
5. UPDATE ON PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT:
As more businesses and agencies reopen and rejoin our essential workers back on the job, personal protective equipment (PPE) will be key to keeping everyone safe. On May 12th, I helped CCE Broome hand out free hand sanitizer and face masks to local farms to protect their employees while working. On May 29th, my office distributed sanitizer to local service agencies. Nearly 100 gallons and hundreds more small bottles were given away to 30 local organizations serving residents across the community. The United Way also continues to collect and provide masks for anyone that needs them; if you or your business/agency are in need of masks, call the UW’s 211 hotline. Masks are professionally cleaned before distribution.
Assemblywoman Lupardo distributes hand sanitizer to Cheryl from the Discovery Center.