Assembly Dems discuss Cuomo’s pandemic powers
February 12, 2021
Assembly Democrats met privately on Friday for more more than three hours to discuss the extraordinary powers exercised by Gov. Andrew Cuomo since the arrival of the novel coronavirus.
The meeting, which was scheduled in advance of the New York Post’s report on Thursday about the Cuomo administration’s rationale for not releasing COVID-19 data to the state Legislature, featured a presentation by Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski, chair of the chamber’s operations committee, who walked his Democratic colleagues through a 75-page analysis of all the executive actions taken by the governor between March of 2020 and the end of January.
Zebrowski’s presentation identified when the governor utilized powers granted to him last year by state lawmakers and when he was taking advantage of pre-existing powers his office already had in the event of a public health emergency. A copy of the report is available below.
The conference was scheduled by Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie after members raised questions about the governor’s extraordinary pandemic powers during unrelated Democratic conferences in recent weeks, according to multiple Assembly members.
The discussion Friday about the governor’s powers ranged from immediately rolling them back, letting them expire in April and even possibly extending them in some capacity. One possible alternative that was floated involved creating a process for a select number of lawmakers and staff to be involved in the governor’s pandemic decision making process moving forward.
No decisions were reached about the future of the governor’s powers or steps to solicit more disclosure from the executive. Rolling back the extraordinary powers or any individual actions would require a join action by the state Assembly and state Senate.
Assembly Democratic spokesman Mike Whyland confirmed the conference had been scheduled earlier in the week to discuss the gubernatorial powers, but declined to comment on the substance of the private discussion.
Senate Democrats went into their own private conference late on Friday afternoon.
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