Some state legislators say it’s time for Governor Cuomo to give back powers in response to COVID

Around New York State

(WIVB)–Earlier this year the State Legislature gave Governor Cuomo unfettered power to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, but some lawmakers say enough is enough.

The New York State Legislature gave Gov. Andrew Cuomo unilateral control over decision-making amid the pandemic for nearly a year and a month. 

That means, if the pandemic continues, even if the Empire State continues to tamp down on a rapid spread, Cuomo will have his expanded powers until next April. 

Whether that happens remains to be seen. But some, especially state Republicans, say enough is enough. 

Tucked into this year’s state budget bill, approved by both Houses of the Legislature, is a provision that grants Gov. Andrew Cuomo full authority over any state or local law, so long as it is related to a disease outbreak. 

Although the budget was overwhelmingly approved by the Democrat-controlled Senate and Assembly, many lawmakers say they now feel sidelined. Especially since Cuomo has already changed hundreds of state laws. Moves in which the Legislature would normally have played a pivotal role. 

“We need to be fulfilling our full responsibility, and there’s no reason we can’t be. And there are people on the Democrat and Republican side that understand that we aren’t fulfilling our duty that we were elected to do. And it’s high time that we get back to three branches of government in the state of New York,” Senator Robert Ortt said.

Cuomo argued Monday about the severity of what’s at stake. 

“There is no thinking American who doesn’t believe this is a state of emergency. I don’t believe there’s any governor who’s ever had their powers revoked in the middle of an emergecy,” Cuomo said.

He also says late-game calls to strip his authority by legislators on both sides of the aisle and good government groups are short-sighted, or worse. 

“Everything that we have done that has worked goes away immediately because they were all done by Executive Order. So it’s a stupid idea,” Cuomo added. “And stupid is a strong word. But sometimes it’s just stupid.”

Ortt disagrees with the assignment of stupidity. 

“Maybe stupid politically. But I don’t think the people of New York think that it’s good to have one person making significant decisions regarding economic policy, for businesses. There’s a reason we have three branches. There’s a reason we were elected,” Ortt added.

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