State Watch

NY lawmakers agree to strip Cuomo of pandemic-related emergency powers

New York state lawmakers on Tuesday reached an agreement to strip Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) of his pandemic-related emergency powers as he faces two controversies and calls for his resignation.

State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D) and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D) announced that the legislature plans to approve a bill that would immediately remove the emergency authority given to Cuomo last year in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The emergency powers, currently slated to expire on April 30, granted early in the pandemic permitted Cuomo to pass executive orders quickly as New York was hit hard by the virus.

"I think everyone understands where we were back in March and where we are now," Stewart-Cousins said in a statement. "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."

The legislature, which has a supermajority of Democrats, intends to keep in place Cuomo's orders that relate to managing the spread of COVID-19, outline the vaccination process or mandate face coverings for at least 30 days. 

Under the bill, counties and municipalities will also be allowed to enforce executive orders without the state's approval. 

The proposed limits to Cuomo's power come as the governor deals with sexual misconduct allegations from three women and accusations that his administration mismanaged COVID-19 nursing home deaths. 

Republicans had previously suggested curtailing the governor's emergency power, but the concept gained more traction as more Democrats joined the effort amid the controversies.

 

Several Democrats have called on Cuomo to resign this week, including six socialist legislators, Rep. Kathleen Rice (N.Y.) and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. 

New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) released a report in January concluding that the executive office should have included the number of people who died after being transferred from long-term care facilities in its nursing home death toll.

James also declared this week that she would launch an investigation into the allegations against Cuomo after two former aides and a woman he interacted with at a wedding accused him of sexual harassment.

Cuomo's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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