Speaker Carl Heastie is set to announce this week the formation of a working group that will focus on developing policies to help the state transition toward recovery. 

The working group of seven lawmakers from around New York comes 10 months into the pandemic, the distribution of a vaccine and the expectation 2021 will be a pivot year of sorts for improving the state's economy and unemployment picture. 

The panel will be led by co-chairs Assemblyman Al Stirpe and Assemblyman Harry Bronson. Stirpe leads the Assembly Small Business Committee, Bronson is chairman of the Asssembly Economic Development, Job Creation, Commerce and Industry Committee.

And while federal aid has provided a boost for small businesses, many continue to struggle during the pandemic. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a devastating toll on our state. Thousands of New Yorkers have died. Millions lost their jobs. And it fundamentally changed the way we live and do business," Speaker Carl Heastie said.

“This working group will provide a venue to identify the many voices that are struggling to reach state and other levels of government to communicate their immediate and long term needs, and allow us to develop a long term strategy reflective of the true needs of the workforce and businesses across the state.”

The working group is also set to include committee chairs who will work with Democratic conference members on their committees to develop ways of helping the economy recovery.

The working group will include:

  • Assemblymember Edward C. Braunstein, chair, Committee on Cities
  • Assemblymember Latoya Joyner, chair, Committee on Labor
  • Assemblymember Donna Lupardo, chair, Committee on Agriculture
  • Assemblymember John T. McDonald III, chair, Committee on Oversight, Analysis and Investigation
  • Assemblymember Steven Otis, chair, Committee on Science & Technology
  • Assemblymember Victor Pichardo, chair, Committee on Banks
  • Assemblymember Fred W. Thiele, Jr., chair, Committee on Local Governments

Virtually every corner of the state's economy was affected by the pandemic, leading to skyrocketing unemployment and struggles for small businesses. Tourism and the hospitality sectors, in particular, have been hard hit. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this month in his State of the State address laid out plans to use a strategy of rapid tests to allow people to attend large gatherings and entertainment venues as well as restaurants.