New York State Legislature votes in favor of limiting Gov. Cuomo's emergency powers

Posted at 7:06 PM, Mar 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-05 19:06:45-05

ALBANY, N.Y. (WKBW) — The New York State Legislature voted in favor of limiting Governor Cuomo's emergency powers Friday. Tuesday the state legislature reached a deal on the matter.

Legislation will be passed limiting the temporary emergency powers that were granted to Cuomo at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. It will allow current directives related to preserving public health to continue.

The Senate Democratic Majority said Friday "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."

Senate Republicans said Friday the bill was a "sham" and they voted in unison against it.

"New York State Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt and every member of the Senate Republican Conference today voted in unison against the Senate Democrats’ fake “repeal” of Governor Cuomo’s emergency powers. The bill further emboldens the Governor’s stranglehold on total power by allowing him to extend and modify the mandates he has issued since first acquiring the powers in March 2020," a release said in part.

State Senate Republicans unanimously voted against the bill, but that was not enough to stop the Democrat-controlled Senate.

Elected leaders say lower COVID-19 rates and more people getting the vaccine mean emergency powers are no longer needed. Legislation was passed at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to give Cuomo the emergency powers to respond to the pandemic. The emergency powers were set to expire in April.

The Senate Democratic Majority says the legislation, which can be found here, will establish new checks by the legislature on the authority of the governor 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 of the current state of the law.
  • Allowing the Legislature to terminate a state disaster emergency by concurrent resolution.

Calls for the revocation of his emergency powers began in February due to the state's handling of COVID-19 in nursing homes.

Those calls were renewed by several elected leaders following allegations of sexual harassment against the governor.