NY State Senate votes to curb Cuomo's emergency powers

Updated: March 05, 2021 07:27 PM
Created: March 05, 2021 03:59 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Legislation aimed at repealing the temporary emergency powers given to Gov. Andrew Cuomo at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic last year passed the New York State Senate and the Assembly on Friday.

The state Senate, in a 43-20 vote, approved the bill, which would revoke Cuomo’s power to issue new orders related to the coronavirus, while allowing current directives to remain in effect with more legislative oversight.

The state Assembly then debated before also approving the bill, 107-43.

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie introduced legislation earlier this week that would allow the legislature to have more input while also ensuring New Yorkers continue to be protected.

Lawmakers say the Cuomo administration's acknowledgment that it hadn’t been forthcoming on the numbers for COVID-19 nursing home deaths, and more recently, accusations of sexual harassment, have hurt.  

However, New York State Republican Committee Chairman Nick Langworthy said the bill doesn't go far enough. He says it still allows the governor to make changes to any order that already exists.

If the bill is signed into law, the April 30 sunset provision will be removed, meaning Cuomo's emergency powers on nearly 100 existing executive orders will essentially be extended indefinitely instead of ending on April 30. 

Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt said the sunset provision was the only ray of hope millions of New Yorkers had, including owners of restaurants, gyms, and small businesses struggling to stay afloat. 

"No matter how much tough talk comes from that floor of the legislature, from my colleagues across the aisle, they're clearly a lot less tough when they get behind closed doors with this governor," Ortt said. "Because this is, this is either a deal with the governor, or it's the worst bill I've ever seen, and I can't even imagine what will happen when they get into negations with the governor."

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