State lawmakers voted on bills Wednesday in empty chambers following airtight emergency COVID-19 protocols put in place after two lawmakers recently tested positive for the deadly virus.
The state Senate and Assembly passed a bill that will expand paid sick leave to all public and private sector workers forced into precautionary or mandatory quarantine due to the corona virus.
The legislation covers a 14 day period. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law which takes effect immediately shortly after.
But politicians were given strict guidelines to reduce social interaction. The state Capitol is closed to the public and staff have been cleaning the building around the clock.
Most of the 63 member state Senate voted from their offices, with the exception of leadership in both conferences.
“Every aspect of our lives are changed, and changed probably for a very, very long time,” Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said on the chamber floor before voting ‘yes’ on the measure, which passed 50 to 6.
The 150-member state Assembly imposed a maximum of 30 individuals in the room at one time, so Democrats and Republicans were divided into voting groups.
Those who wanted to debate the legislation were told to enter the chamber together.
The measure passed 131 to 3. Legislative leaders and Gov. Cuomo have a state budget deadline of April 1 hanging over their heads, but it’s unclear when politicians will return to Albany to vote.
But aides have said agreements can be worked out over the phone.