New York Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announced on Tuesday that they have reached an agreement to strip Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo of the emergency powers that he was given during the pandemic which comes as he faces two political scandals that threaten to end his political career.
The New York State Legislature gave Cuomo the expanded powers to allow him to respond faster to the coronavirus pandemic that devastated the state last Spring. The emergency powers granted Cuomo greater authority to issue executive orders and were already set to expire at the end of April, but the legislators moved to revoke the powers immediately as Cuomo faces a scandal over his handling of nursing homes and over allegations that he sexually harassed women at work.
“I think everyone understands where we were back in March and where we are now,” Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins said. “We certainly see the need for a quick response but also want to move toward a system of increased oversight, and review. The public deserves to have checks and balances. Our proposal would create a system with increased input while at the same time ensuring New Yorkers continue to be protected.”
“A year into the pandemic, and as New Yorkers receive the vaccine, the temporary emergency powers have served their purpose – it is time for them to be repealed,” Speaker Heastie said. “These temporary emergency powers were granted as New York was devastated by a virus we knew nothing about. Now it is time for our government to return to regular order.”
A joint statement released by Stewart-Cousins and Heastie added the following:
Standing directives taken by executive action which manage the spread or reduction of COVID-19, facilitate the vaccination process or require use of face coverings, will remain in effect for an additional 30 days. While these can then be extended or modified, the governor will be required to notify relevant Senate and Assembly committee chairs as well as the temporary president of the Senate and the speaker of the Assembly with the need for the extension or modification, and the threat to public health and safety, and provide an opportunity to comment. The governor cannot extend actions beyond the first 30 days unless they explicitly relate to the COYID-19 pandemic.
Directives can be modified to revise the number of individuals, businesses or entities impacted by an executive order – for example individuals eligible for vaccination or seating capacity of a business. Directives will not be continuously modified or extended unless the governor has responded to comments provided by the chairs of relevant committees.
— Dave Greber (@DaveGreber4) March 2, 2021