Politics

New York Assembly Bill Would Allow State To Detain People If Deemed A Threat To Public Health

(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

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A bill being introduced in the New York State Assembly would allow the governor and other health officials to detain anyone suspected of being a “carrier” of a contagious disease, like the coronavirus.

The legislation is sponsored by Assemblyman N. Nick Perry and was previously introduced in 2015 due to Ebola virus, but never passed. The bill’s language says that if the governor “declares a state of health emergency due to an epidemic of any communicable disease” then the state can take steps to detain any individuals sick or suspected of being sick.

“Upon determining by clear and convincing evidence that the health of others is or may be endangered by a case, contact or carrier” the governor may, after consulting the health commissioner, “order the removal and/or detention of such a person or of a group of such persons by issuing a single order, identifying such persons either by name or by a reasonably specific description of the individuals or group being detained.”

Those detained can only be released if the state proves the person is not a threat to public health. (RELATED: New York Could Mandate Coronavirus Vaccine With Proposed Legislation)

Persons detained would be held in a “medical facility” or another “appropriate facility or premises designated by the governor” for no longer than three days, but could be held longer.

If a detained person is ordered to be kept past three days they can request a release. The governor would then be obligated to apply for a court order authorizing the extended detention after three days after under the legislation.

Once a person is deemed to no longer be contagious, they will be released.

The bill also notes that any person who is detained “shall not conduct himself or herself in a disorderly manner, and shall not leave or attempt to leave such facility or premises until he or she is discharged.”

The legislation would also allow the governor to “issue and seek enforcement of any other orders” deemed necessary to help protect public health.

Perry said in a statement posted on Twitter that the bill would not infringe upon individual liberties.

“There is no intent, no plan, or provisions in my bill to take away, or violate any rights, or liberties that all Americans are entitled to under our constitution, either state or federal,” his statement read.

I am convinced that most smart Americans, faced with the deadly consequences of having a person who is a carrier of a very deadly virus roaming freely through any community, would support public action to contain such a person from contaminating and potentially bringing certain deaths to persons they have contact with.

“Somewhere in the future there maybe the need for people to be protected from a person or persons carrying a very deadly and transmittable virus, and this bill is designed to ensure that our government could lawfully act to protect all the people,” his statement continued, noting that the bill was not created specifically for the coronavirus pandemic.

Republican Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor said if the bill passes, New Yorkers will suffer “years of unspeakable abuses to their liberties.”

“If the Gulag Bill became law, useful idiots in the press would likely provide cover and rationalize the need for the legislation,” Lalor said in a statement. “By the time the constitutionality of detaining people without due process was adjudicated by the courts, it would be too late. New Yorkers would have suffered years of unspeakable abuses to their liberties.”

“This bill is brazenly unconstitutional and a threat to the civil liberties of all New Yorkers,” he said, noting Gov. Andrew Cuomo should come out and say that he will not sign the bill into law if passed by the state legislature. “The mere existence of this bill is an unacceptable threat to the rights of all New Yorkers. It should be withdrawn immediately.”

Lalor told the Daily Caller that while the legislation has been unsuccessfully introduced in previous years, it could end up being part of an omnibus bill. The legislation currently doesn’t have a sponsor in the state Senate, something it’d need to pass.

The Daily Caller asked the governor’s office whether Cuomo had any intentions to publicly confirm that he would not sign the bill should it make its way to his desk.

Richard Azzopardi, a senior advisor to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, responded to the Daily Caller in an email with the subject line “your insane email” and said the governor was unaware of the bill before today.

“We didn’t even know about this bill, which has no sponsor in the senate, until today,” he said. “It apparently never left the first step of the committee process and everyone’s crazy uncle needs to close Parlor, and take a walk or something. We have real things to do.”