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New York Gov. Kathy Hochul. Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Falsifying a COVID-19 vaccination card is now a crime in New York, punishable with a year's prison sentence if convicted of carrying one and up to four years for faking a health passport.

Why it matters: Proof-of-vaccination requirements in N.Y. and elsewhere have spurred a new market for counterfeit certificates.

  • The Manhattan District Attorney's office in August filed charges against 15 people who were allegedly involved in a fake vaccination card conspiracy.

By the numbers: Sean Ross Collins, a spokesperson for state Sen. Anna Kaplan, who co-sponsored the legislation, said in an emailed statement Thursday that criminal possession of a forged instrument is now "a Class A Misdemeanor carrying a maximum sentence of 1 year in prison."

  • "Computer tampering is a Class E Felony which carries a sentence from 1 and 1/3 years to 4 years in prison," he added.

What they're saying: New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) said in a statement after signing the Truth in Vaccination" bill into law late Wednesday, "We need to make sure we learn the lessons of the pandemic so we don't make the same mistakes twice."

  • "These new laws will help us improve our response to the pandemic now, crack down on fraudulent use of vaccination records, and help us better understand the areas of improvement we need to make to our health care system so we can be even more prepared down the road," Hochul added.

Go deeper

DA: Cuomo won't face charges for allegations of unwanted kissing

Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo holds a press briefing. Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo won't face criminal charges for two separate allegations of unwanted kissing, a county district attorney said Tuesday.

Driving the news: Though Westchester County District Attorney Mimi Rocah's office found evidence to back up the accusations, Rocah will not pursue charges due to New York law's statutory requirements.

45 million Americans under winter storm watches near New England

Computer model projection showing the winds moving around the powerful East Coast storm on Saturday Jan. 29, 2022. Image: https://earth.nullschool.net

Nearly 45 million Americans are under winter weather alerts and warnings from North Carolina to northeastern Maine Thursday night, as a major winter storm threatens the region.

Why it matters: It is predicted to be the biggest blizzard since 2018 to strike the Northeast with more than 2 feet of snow possible in parts of eastern Massachusetts, according to the National Weather Service.

Judge nixes Gulf of Mexico oil leases in climate-focused ruling

Tug boats prepare to tow the semi-submersible drilling platform Noble Danny Adkins through the Port Aransas Channel into the Gulf of Mexico on December 12, 2020 in Port Aransas, Texas. Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

A federal judge on Thursday canceled the Biden administration's late 2021 sale of new oil-and-gas drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

Why it matters: The ruling that the greenhouse gas emissions analysis by the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) was insufficient is a win for green groups that challenged the decision, as they seek to curb fossil fuel production.