New York’s Senate Majority has passed legislation that will rescind Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s emergency COVID-19 powers amid multiple scandals plaguing his administration.
On Friday afternoon, March 5, the Senate advanced legislation repealing the temporary emergency powers that the legislature granted to Cuomo last year at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The legislation revokes Cuomo’s authority to issue new directives while allowing those that are now enforced and involving the state's public health to continue under "significantly greater legislative oversight."
According to the Senate, “this system restores the pre-existing balance of power, ensures genuine checks and balances even during a state of emergency, and mandates a better flow of information between the Governor, the Legislature, and the State’s localities for the remainder of the pandemic.”
Once the bill becomes a law, Cuomo will no longer have the authority to issue new directives, and all current directives will be extended for a thirty-day period. After that period, he will be able to extend or modify directives in limited circumstances.
“Today, we are in a much different place than where we were a year ago, and now it’s time to return to the traditional checks and balances in our state government that provide the level of accountability and transparency which our residents expect—and deserve,” Hudson Valley Sen. Pete Harckham said in a statement.
The Senate said that the legislation will “establish new checks by the Legislature on the authority of the Governor during the pandemic by:
- Revoking the Governor’s authority to issue any new directives.
- Authorizing the Governor to extend or modify directives that are currently in effect to respond to the ongoing pandemic, but requires five days’ notice to the Legislature or to local elected officials before that extension or modification goes into effect.
- Requiring the Governor to respond publicly to any comments they received from the Legislature or from local leaders if a directive is extended.
- Requiring the Governor to create a searchable database of all executive actions that remain in force to inform lawmakers and the public with the current state of the law.
- Allowing the Legislature to terminate a state disaster emergency by concurrent resolution.
“I think everyone understands where we were back in March and where we are now. 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,” Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) said.
“This legislation creates a system with increased input while at the same time ensuring New Yorkers continue to be protected.”
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