Bill to revoke Gov. Cuomo’s emergency powers passes New York Legislature

Northeast

ALBANY, N.Y. (NewsNation Now) — The New York State Legislature Friday evening passed a bill aimed at modifying the temporary COVID-19 emergency powers granted to Gov. Andrew Cuomo last spring at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

The legislation passed the Senate earlier Friday before the Assembly passed it Friday evening. The bill will reverse the broad powers granted to Cuomo to unilaterally set state policy during the pandemic.

Under the bill, Cuomo would still have the power to keep alive his existing COVID-19 rules or tweak the hundreds of orders he issued since the pandemic began. But he’ll no longer be allowed to make decisions without any input from the Legislature. He’ll have to notify legislative committees and local governments and respond to their questions in certain circumstances.

The legislation:

  • Revokes the governor’s authority to issue any new directives. 
  • Authorizes 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. 
  • Requires the governor to respond publicly to any comments they received from the Legislature or from local leaders if a directive is extended.
  • Requires 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.  
  • Allows the Legislature to terminate a state disaster emergency by concurrent resolution.

The legislation comes as some New York lawmakers call for Cuomo’s impeachment after reports late Thursday that his top aides altered a state Health Department report to omit the true number of people killed by COVID-19 in the state’s nursing homes.

The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, citing documents and people with knowledge of the administration’s internal discussions, reported that aides including secretary to the governor Melissa DeRosa pushed state health officials to edit the July report so only residents who died inside long-term care facilities, and not those who became ill there and later died at a hospital, were counted.

It’s the latest blow for Cuomo, who’s facing scandals involving his handling of nursing home deaths and accusations that he made lewd comments and inappropriately touched two former aides and a woman that he met at a wedding he officiated.

Cuomo had apologized Wednesday for acting “in a way that made people feel uncomfortable” but rejected calls for his resignation and said he would fully cooperate with the state attorney general’s investigation into the sexual harassment allegations. Federal investigators are scrutinizing his administration’s handling of nursing home data.

Despite his public apology, a growing number of New Yorkers believe the allegations, according to results of an NewsNation poll out Thursday.

The New York State Senate voted 43-20 to curb Cuomo’s emergency pandemic power Friday afternoon. The State Assembly followed up with a 107-43 vote just hours later.

Republicans and some Democrats in the state have pushed for a total revocation of the governor’s emergency powers, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. 

The Associated Press and NewsNation affiliate WTEN contributed to this report

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