Does anyone remember NYS Assembly Bill A416? It was drafted to amend NYS Public Health Law and was first introduced by Assemblyman N. Nick Perry (D).The summary of the Bill reads as “Relates to the removal of cases, contacts and carriers of communicable diseases who are potentially dangerous to the public health.” The language is ominous. Upon further reading of the Bill, it becomes even more ominous.
“Section 1. The public health law is amended by adding a new section 2120-a to read as follows:
- 2120-A. REMOVAL AND DETENTION OF CASES, CONTACTS AND CARRIERS WHO ARE OR MAY BE A DANGER TO PUBLIC HEALTH; OTHER ORDERS.
- THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION SHALL BE UTILIZED IN THE EVENT THAT THE GOVERNOR DECLARES A STATE OF HEALTH EMERGENCY DUE TO AN EPIDEMIC OF ANY COMMUNICABLE DISEASE.”
This rehashed piece of legislation that would give State leaders the ability to detain contagious patients during a state of emergency. It was originally proposed in 2015 and has never once hit the Committee floor. It has been introduced repeatedly in the 2015-2016, 2017-2018, 2019-2020 legislative sessions, as well as the current session. The current session and COVID has given this Bill new life, sadly.
The reintroduction of this Bill has drawn sharp criticism from residents of NYS and from Republican Lawmakers.
“The wording of this bill worries lawmakers like Assemblyman Steve Hawley, a Republican from Batavia.
‘Protecting the health of our neighbors is a noble goal to be certain, but this bill forfeits our constitutional liberty in a way we can never allow,’ said Hawley in a media release…
‘In my opinion, just introducing these bills creates a negative impact that ultimately harms the effort to get our state past the pandemic, safely,’ said Senator George Borello, a Republican who represents, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties.”
Due to massive public outcry, the Bill was withdrawn from Legislative Session, and that should’ve been the end of it. Unfortunately, bad ideas never really go away. In what has been described as a sneaky move by Governor Hochul, the spirit of this Bill is being proposed as a regulation to be implemented by the NYS Department of Health.
This new regulation is a duplicate copy of the Bill that could not pass the NYS Legislature, or gain favorable approval from NYS residents.
“Congregate quarantine shall mean quarantine at a location operated or contracted by the State or local health authority, consistent with this Part and any direction that the State Commissioner of Health may issue, where multiple persons are quarantined;… Confinement shall mean enforcement of an isolation or quarantine order through the use of law enforcement personnel.”
The language of this regulation is frightening to say the least. Thankfully, I had the very good fortune to talk to the person ringing the clarion bell over these governmental shenanigans, Jaime Scher, Esq, from the Law Offices of Myer & Scher, LLC. She passionately stated that Governor Hochul is literally sneaking through an Executive Branch regulation because it simply can’t survive the legislative process. This regulation completely bypasses the Legislature, an equal branch of government, as well as bypassing the people the Governor is supposed to serve. She further stated that this regulation will give her the power to arrest and indefinitely detain people based upon a suspected health threat. She went on to say that as of today, this regulation is in a “public comment” period. Meaning that the voices of the residents of NYS can be heard. By Law, the NYS Department of Health is required to respond. Time is running out though. On Thursday, February 10, there will be a meeting held with the NYS Public Health Planning Council to decide on whether or not to extend the emergency and allow these draconian mandates to see the light of day.
Ms. Scher stated there are several ways to make your voice heard. She provided Gov. Hochul’s office telephone numbers as 518-474-8390 and 212-681-4580. Fax number: 518-474-1513. I am extremely grateful to Ms. Scher for her time, knowledge and esprit de corps.
To make a comment with the NYS Department of Health about this draconian mandate, please contact the following:
New York State Department of Health
Bureau of Program Counsel, Regulatory Affairs Unit
Re: Amendment of Part 2, Section 405.3 and Addition of Section 58-1.14 to Title 10 NYCRR (Investigation of Communicable Disease; Isolation and Quarantine)
Corning Tower, Empire State Plaza, Rm. 2438
Albany, New York 12237-0031
Phone: (518) 473-7488
FAX: (518) 473-2019
firstname.lastname@example.org Attention: Katherine Ceroalo
It is a sad day for our State when overreaching executive mandates can usurp the legislative process. The very process that involves two equal Branches of Government that enact and pass Law based upon the Will of the People. There shouldn’t be a back door to circumvent this process. Make your voices count.