ALBANY, N.Y. (WIVB) — The New York Assembly has taken the first step toward impeachment proceedings against Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie on Thursday authorized the Assembly Judiciary Committee to open an impeachment investigation. He added the investigation will be led by committee chairman Charles D. Lavine. It will focus on the alleged cover-up of nursing home deaths and allegations by six women of sexual harassment and improper conduct, according to Assemblyman Bill Conrad, a Tonawanda Democrat.

“The reports of accusations concerning the governor are serious,” Heastie said in a statement. “The committee will have the authority to interview witnesses, subpoena documents and evaluate evidence, as is allowed by the New York State Constitution. I have the utmost faith that Assemblymember Lavine and the members of the committee will conduct an expeditious, full and thorough investigation,” Heastie said.

The speaker added the impeachment investigation will not impact the independent review of sexual harassment allegations against Governor Cuomo being overseen by New York State Attorney General Letitia James. James confirmed as much in a statement.

“Today’s action by the New York state legislature will have no bearing on our independent investigation into these allegations against Governor Cuomo. Our investigation will continue,” James said.

More than half of New York legislators have called on Gov. Cuomo to resign in light of growing sexual harassments allegations. One of the allegations was referred to Albany Police earlier Thursday.

Conrad says he supports the impeachment inquiry.

“I have every faith the independent probes currently underway will reveal the truths we are owed; however, the Assembly must reach some resolution in as expeditious a manner as possible. I have been assured that this inquiry, which will be managed by the Assembly Judiciary Committee, should occur and conclude comparatively quickly,” he said.

“I will keep pushing for this inquiry’s timely conclusion, and for the media and public to be granted access to the proceedings,” he added. “If this inquiry yields evidence that the Governor has committed an impeachable offense, I will seek his removal from office.”

Assemblymember Karen McMahon who sits on the State Assembly Judiciary Committee released the following statement.

“As announced by Speaker Heastie this afternoon, the Assembly Judiciary Committee will conduct an impeachment investigation into the allegations of misconduct by Governor Cuomo. As a member of the Judiciary Committee, I take this responsibility very seriously and will give every allegation the careful consideration it deserves. My colleagues and I will conduct a thorough investigation and make appropriate recommendations upon the conclusion of our work. In light of my position on the Committee, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on the substance of the allegations while our investigation is pending.”

Assemblymember Karen M. McMahon (D-Amherst/Pendleton)

State Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay says the Assembly Committee on Judiciary should move with urgency.

“While I welcome the decision to launch an impeachment investigation to look into alleged misconduct by Gov. Cuomo, the Assembly Committee on Judiciary must proceed with urgency. Republicans have called for impeachment investigations for weeks. Now that Democrats have finally recognized the need, the committee’s work must move expeditiously and it must provide a deadline, details and the defined process the investigation will take.

Assembly Republicans offered an impeachment resolution that provided a clear path and the opportunity for an immediate vote. The Committee on Judiciary’s investigation cannot be used as a mechanism to buy more time. We have a budget to develop, a public health crisis to deal with and the state’s economic recovery to advance.

Andrew Cuomo no longer has the trust and credibility to serve as governor of this state. An impeachment investigation is a significant step. But, Assembly Democrats must acknowledge that time is of the essence and that time has run out on Andrew Cuomo.”

New York State Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay

This is a developing story. Check back for more details.