State lawmakers pass bill to limit Gov. Cuomo's powers

Emily Burkhard
Updated: March 05, 2021 11:56 PM
Created: March 05, 2021 02:54 PM

ALBANY - State lawmakers approved legislation Friday that will scale back the emergency powers given to Governor Andrew Cuomo at the start of the pandemic.

For weeks, if not months, both major parties have said this was needed. Democrats said it restores the balance of power, but Republicans are calling it a "fake repeal bill" that actually expands the governor's reach.

The bill prevents Cuomo from issuing any new directives. He is still allowed to make changes to existing orders or directives.

"The ones that are already passed, they're still in existence essentially for the next 30 days,” said Assemblymember Pat Fahy (D, Albany). “If there's any modifications made to those they have to come back five days in advance to give us notice. We can act on those to reject them, accept them what have you."

Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt (R, Lockport) said that doesn't change much.

"Don't let them tell you that they can decide too,” Ortt said. “They've been able to decide things this whole time. Have they done it once?”

Fahy said it's not that simple.

"We can't act as fast we are by definition deliberative, we have to deliberate on a number of these so this was the way to do it,” she said. “Make it clear, no more, we're done. We are done. There will be no new ones unless they come back to us, all the other ones modifications, additions, anything that needs to be done comes back to us."

Ortt said the governor's existing orders cover essentially every aspect of life for all New Yorkers.

"Travel, kids in school, kids playing sports, dining, what's open, what's closed, who can work, who can't, who is essential, who is not,” Ortt said.

Ortt also said Republicans are planning to introduce more amendments addressing specific directives and they'll continue to push a clean repeal of emergency powers.

Fahy said there's a reason Democrats avoided that method. Vaccination operations, public meetings and other official business need to continue remotely while viral spread is still a concern.

"It's these types of orders that are in existence for a good reason so what we didn't want to do is disrupt practices that would bring, that would make matters worse and cause chaos,” she said.

Stay tuned to NewsChannel 13 for updates on this story.

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