March 2020 Policy Updates

March 2020 Policy Updates

COVID-19 related policy updates

COVID-19 national emergency
On March 13 the President declared a national emergency in response to the growing COVID-19 pandemic, invoking powers under the Stafford Act. This action opens $50 billion for aid related to COVID-19. The President also announced the administration would waive interest on federal student loans and the Department of Energy would buy crude oil for storage in U.S. reserves.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act passes House, must still pass Senate
On March 14, the House passed an updated version of H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, that includes provisions protecting nonprofits. The Senate is expected to bring it up as early as today. The bill provides free testing for COVID-19, $2 billion in unemployment assistance, $1 billion in food aid, and increased federal funding for Medicaid. It also suspends the SNAP work requirements and grants greater waiver authority to the states during the crisis. The bill requires employers to provide employees two weeks of paid sick leave, paid at the employee’s regular rate, to quarantine or seek a diagnosis or preventive care for the coronavirus. It also requires payment at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate to care for a family member for those purposes or to care for a child whose school has closed, or if a child care provider is unavailable, due to the coronavirus. The bill also expands the number of workers who can take up to 12 weeks of leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. After the two weeks of paid leave, employees will receive a benefit from their employers that will be no less than two-thirds of the employee’s usual pay. The qualifying reasons for the emergency leave are a current diagnosis of COVID-19, self-quarantine, caring for another person with the disease or who is under quarantine, or caring for a child due to COVID-19 related closing of school, or other care facility. Nonprofit New York will continue monitoring the Senate bill and share updates with our membership about how and when nonprofits can access these new protections.

COVID-19 federal appropriations
H.R.6074 - Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020 passed on March 5th and was signed by the President on March 6th. This bill provides $8.3 billion in emergency funding for federal agencies to respond to the coronavirus outbreak, including grants to local nonprofit organizations.

CDC guidance against gatherings of 50 or more
On March 15, the CDC issued interim guidance that gatherings of 50 people or more in the US should be canceled or postponed over the next eight weeks.

State COVID-19 emergency response
The state legislature passed a late-night emergency bill (S7919/A9953) providing the Governor Cuomo authority to issue any directive necessary to respond to a state disaster emergency and $40 million to address the COVID-19 public health crisis.

State of emergency declared
On March 7th, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today declared a state of emergency to help New York more quickly and effectively contain the spread of the virus.

Ban on events of 500 people or more
On March 12th, the Governor announced New York will ban events of 500 people or more and impose restrictions on other gathering venues as part of its effort to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

City emergency declared
On March 12th, Mayor De Blasio declared a state of emergency in response to COVID-19 that gives the city the authority to potentially close public transportation, order people off the streets and ration supplies. The city could also establish curfews and close streets to vehicles.

New York City Schools Closed
On March 15th, Mayor De Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carranza announced the City will move towards a new Remote Learning Model for all school days through Spring Recess. Students will not report to school buildings for instruction during this time. School buildings will remain closed until at least April 20, 2020.

Restaurants, movie theaters, and bars closing this week
The mayor announced he will sign an order today, Monday, the 16th, to close all restaurants, movie theaters, bars, and concert venues effective Tuesday, March 17th in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. Restaurants will still be able to offer delivery and takeout.

COVID-19 Guidance from City for contracted nonprofits appears inflexible
The City issued guidance to nonprofit contracted providers on March 6th in response to concerns related to COVID-19. In the guidance the City states that, “organizations under contract with the City are responsible for fulfilling the agreements in their contract. If a provider believes alternative arrangements need to be established as a result of the Novel Coronavirus, they should discuss with their City contracting agency.”

Protecting Your Nonprofit from COVID-19
The Lawyers Alliance for New York has developed a website with COVID-19 related updates, including a legal alert for nonprofits.

Human Services Council resources for COVID-19
The Human Services Council (HSC) is providing regular, detailed updates for nonprofits with human service government contracts through a COVID-19 resources page. HSC is monitoring specific agency updates for contracts to provide guidance to contracted organizations.

Coronavirus: Let’s stay healthy and be kind.
In response to the COVID-19 rapidly changing developments, Nonprofit New York is sharing resources and recommendations on staying healthy and being kind to fellow community members during this time.

Non-COVID-19 policy updates


Community Reinvestment Act
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) have proposed revised rules under the Community Reinvestment Act that may decrease public accountability and expand the types of activities that qualify as a CRA investment. Currently, the law requires banks to work with nonprofits, small businesses, local officials, and community groups where they are physically located, specifically to serve low-to-moderate income neighborhoods.

2020 Census live
The 2020 Census is now live! All residents can complete the census online or over the phone (844-330-2020), in just a few minutes.

2020 Census at Risk
The U.S. Census Bureau is behind on some of its goals - like recruiting enough workers - and needs to address concerns with its internet response system, according to a recent report of the Government Accountability Office. The report found significant IT and cybersecurity challenges for the 2020 Census. According to GAO, the 2020 Census is on its High Risk list because, as of this month, 28 of GAO’s 112 recommendations have not been fully implemented.


501c3 nonprofit donor disclosure requirement in state FY21 budget legislation
S7505/A9505, Part UU would require nonprofits registered with the Charities Bureau under Art. 7-A of the Executive Law (ie. those that are registered to solicit charitable funds) to file their CHAR 500 (including the IRS 990 and all attachments) with the state Tax Department, which in turn will make the information public on its website. Consistent with longstanding principles of donor confidentiality, currently both the Charities Bureau and IRS strictly protect the donor information contained in Schedule B of the 990. Part UU was not included in the Governor’s 30-day amendments. Nonprofit New York has held several legislative meetings opposing this new requirement.


Nonprofit properties exempt from City’s lien sale
Intro 245 (Reynoso) 2018 passed the City Council on February 27th. This bill will create a position of a not-for-profit ombudsperson within the Department of Finance (DOF), and exempt from the City’s lien sale any property owned by a not-for-profit organization that received a not-for-profit property tax exemption under in at least one of the prior two fiscal years, given certain conditions. Congratulations to the #ProtectOurPlaces coalition for their hard work getting this bill passed!