Albany, NY — Many of the executive orders signed during the COVID-19 pandemic should be codified into law, specifically those that address health care services, occupational licensing and government transparency, according to a new Empire Center report, titled Keep the Change.

While the coronavirus upended everyday life for New Yorkers and took a devastating toll, several of the emergency orders improve the way New Yorkers access health care, conduct business and interact with their public officials.

In the health care sector, Governor Cuomo issued executive orders relaxing laws and regulations to expand treatment capacity, increase access to telehealth and ease licensing requirements for health care professionals. New York should Keep the Change, the paper argues.

Government transparency increased dramatically under an early executive order requiring all public bodies to broadcast or transmit their meetings. Pre-pandemic, the state’s Open Meetings Law demanded this only of state agencies. This change should be maintained by permanently amending the Open Meetings Law, according to Empire Center Adjunct Fellow and paper author Cam Macdonald.

Macdonald also notes that legislation that would permanently continue alcohol-to-go sales would be a wise initiative to help the hospitality industry bounce back from a dire financial situation.

“New Yorkers know how to learn and grow from tragedy—and as we come back from the coronavirus pandemic, we should do everything we can to make sure we come back stronger than ever,” Macdonald said. “We have seen how easing restrictions and regulations have benefitted New Yorkers in a time of crisis. Now we should keep these positive changes, so that  New Yorkers can better thrive in times of recovery.”

Read the full report here.

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