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Sen. Borrello Introduces COVID Bills

As Independence Day nears, state Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, is introducing legislation to give state residents independence from state COVID-19 regulations.

Borrello introduced three bills in the state Senate on Wednesday. S.7268 prohibits a government entity from requiring individuals to receive a COVID-19 vaccine; S.7269 prohibits a government entity or its subdivisions from requiring people to wear face coverings or face masks; and S.7270 prohibits a government entity or its subdivisions from issuing COVID-19 regulations or guidance without first getting approval from the state Legislature.

Legislation has already been introduced in both houses of the legislature to either prohibit mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations. A.4269/S.4376 and A.7100 would prohibit mandatory vaccinations while Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, D-New York City, introduced A.11179 late in 2020 to require COVID-19 vaccines if the state failed to achieve sufficient immunity, but that piece of legislation has not been reintroduced in the 2021 session.

“Vaccines are a choice and no one should ever be forced to be vaccinated,” Borrello wrote in his legislative justification. “These are important decisions that are generally made between an individual and their physician. New York state government should have no control on issues that infringe on an individual’s basic rights.”

The second piece of legislation deals with limiting the power of state agencies to issue regulations now that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has allowed Executive Orders 202 and 205 to expire. Borrello said the state Health Department issued an emergency regulation on June 23 — the day before Cuomo ended the state of emergency — to require face coverings in some circumstances.

Borrello prefers, at this point, to let citizens and private entities make decisions about mask use rather than state agencies.

“This bill would implement a clean repeal of the mask mandate in a public setting,” Borrello wrote. “While those who are not comfortable taking this step will still be free to wear a mask, those who are vaccinated, recovered or simply feel it’s not necessary will be released from this rule.”

Borrello said S.7270 is designed to make sure the state Legislature is able to serve as a co-equal branch of government throughout the rest of the COVID-19 pandemic by making sure any state measures are approved by the legislature.

Introducing such legislation isn’t a surprise given Borrello’s persistence throughout the 2021 legislative session to repeal Cuomo’s power.

“At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York, the state legislature voted to cede their constitutional responsibility to the governor by allowing him to suspend laws and write his own, without approval from the state legislature. This was, and remains, way too much power for one individual,” Borrello said in his legislative justification. “On many occasions, the governor’s unjustified and unscientific restrictions hurt so many New Yorkers, causing many to leave the state and others to close their business for good. In order to ensure mistakes of the past are not repeated, the state legislature must fulfill its constitutional responsibility to require legislative approval on any regulations or guidance as it relates to the COVID-19 virus.”

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