Lawmakers in New York reached an agreement that will strip Gov. Andrew Cuomo of his COVID-19 pandemic-linked emergency powers.
Legislators from New York’s Assembly and Senate announced on Tuesday, March 2 that Cuomo would be stripped of emergency powers and the state will return some matters he had control of, such as lockdowns, to local officials.
The announcement was made by Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who noted that the legislation will allow current directives pertaining to preserving public health to continue.
“I think everyone understands where we were back in March and where we are now,” 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,” she added. “Our proposal would create a system with increased input while at the same time ensuring New Yorkers continue to be protected.”
The New York State Legislature passed legislation approximately a year ago that granted Cuomo emergency powers to act during the pandemic. The power to issue executive orders was set to expire on Friday, April 30.
According to the Legislature, the new legislation strips Cuomo of his emergency powers immediately.
Officials said that 15 days after the legislation goes into effect, all current suspensions and directives will be posted on the website of the governor in a searchable format, and include details on such suspensions and directives, including the public health and safety reasons any directives were extended or modified.
Every 30 days after, the website will be updated to include responses to written comments or information requests from relevant committee chairs or municipal government entities.
Assemblymember Carrie Woerner posted the outline of the deal on social media on Tuesday afternoon when the details were finalized, including:
- "The repeal of the extraordinary powers granted to the governor last year;
- Provide for an orderly transition through the end of the disaster period;
- Limit any further modifications to directives to that which is necessary to reduce the spread or increase vaccinations;
- Restore the right of the counties and municipalities to issue executive orders without seeking state approval;
- Require the governor to provide online reporting on all executive orders, providing transparency for all."
The news comes as Cuomo is actively navigating his way through multiple scandals that have led to questions of his leadership after he was one of New York’s bright spots at the beginning of the pandemic.
According to some officials, the bill could be passed as soon as this Friday, March 5.
“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,” 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.”
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