Legislators in the New York State Assembly and Senate have agreed to remove the emergency authority given to Gov. Andrew Cuomo during the pandemic, which gave him unilateral power over the state.
The removal of Cuomo’s emergency powers comes in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal in which three women have come forward to accuse the governor of unwanted sexual advances.
The deal between the State Assembly and the Senate will effectively reverse Cuomo’s emergency powers that were granted to him exactly one year ago in the early days of the pandemic, which gave him the ability to enact quarantines and quarter the state into various zones without the approval of legislators.
“I think everyone understands where we were back in March and where we are now. 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. Our proposal would create a system with increased input while at the same time ensuring New Yorkers continue to be protected,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said in a statement, per NBC.
According to the publication, Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner tweeted the outlines of the deal on Tuesday, which includes:
- "repeal 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 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 deal will provide Cuomo with limited authority to extend existing measures, but even such actions will require the approval of legislators who can support or oppose his measures. Legislators will also have the ability to repeal any gubernatorial declaration of a state of emergency.
The changes follow efforts to drive Cuomo from his seat of power, with many calling upon the governor to resign over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and deaths in nursing homes, as well as the sexual harassment allegations that have emerged against Cuomo in recent days.