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Top Democrats in the state Legislature are taking steps to strip Gov. Andrew Cuomo of his pandemic emergency powers — possibly as early as Friday — as the administration is embroiled in dueling scandals over the handling of nursing home deaths and allegations of sexual harassment against the governor.
The agreement on a bill stripping Cuomo of the powers was forged between state Sen. Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-The Bronx). Once passed by both houses of the Legislature it would immediately repeal the powers granted to Cuomo last March to largely control state response to the coronavirus, presently set to sunset on April 30.
That vote could come as soon as Friday.
The legislation would also bar Cuomo from creating new emergency directives without a sign off from legislative leaders and relevant committee chairs and would only allow the extension of existing directives if they are directly tied to managing the pandemic.
The deal would allow some of the existing directives to continue, such as the statewide mask order.
“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,” Stewart-Cousins said in a statement.
“A year into the pandemic, and as New Yorkers receive the vaccine, the temporary emergency powers have served their purpose – it is time for them to be repealed,” Heastie said.
“These temporary emergency powers were granted as New York was devastated by a virus we knew nothing about. Now it is time for our government to return to regular order.”
Lawmakers have been pushing leadership to remove the governor’s authority that allows him to usurp control over pandemic response in all local jurisdictions throughout the state in recent weeks as Cuomo has become engulfed in the dueling scandals.
His administration is being investigated by the federal government for allegedly withholding data pertaining to over 13,000 recorded nursing home deaths tied to COVID-19, as well as multiple allegations of sexual harassment, which the state Attorney General’s Office is probing.
The Legislature’s bill — expected to be officially introduced later this evening — would need at least three days to age before the state Senate and Assembly can hold a floor vote. The earliest a vote can be held is Friday.
If the measure passes both chambers, it would be delivered to Cuomo to sign or deny. The governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment by The Post.
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