Capitol Notes

Assembly Dems weigh checks on Cuomo’s pandemic powers

Rank-and-file Assembly Democrats were presented Wednesday with a series of new pandemic oversight measures for their consideration and possible adoption as early as next week.

The proposed checks on the governor’s powers that were discussed during a private meeting of majority members includes requiring the Cuomo administration to report certain decisions a week in advance to legislative committee chairs and allowing municipalities to issue their own pandemic executive orders as long as they don’t conflict with state actions, according to multiple members briefed on the proposal.

Assembly Democrats are also putting together a package of nursing home reforms, following in the footsteps of their Democratic colleagues in the state Senate.

The potential plan to curtail the governor’s pandemic powers is taking shape after Assembly Republicans announced they wanted the chamber to consider a resolution that would create a commission with the authority to investigate the Cuomo administration’s handling of nursing home data and potentially recommend impeaching the governor.

Wednesday’s internal discussion by the Assembly Democrats comes nearly two weeks after they met privately to review the actions taken by the governor during the pandemic, including an analysis of the different powers he exercise.

In an interview with The Capitol Pressroom recorded Tuesday, Assembly Aging Committee Chair Ron Kim said he expected Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie to soon have a plan for curtailing Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s pandemic powers and addressing shortcomings in the state’s nursing homes outlined by a recent report from state Attorney General Letitia James.

The plan under consideration Wednesday by Assembly Democrats would allow Cuomo to circumvent the new seven-days notice requirement if he believed immediate action was necessary to respond to a specific public health or safety threat. The administration would need to brief the Legislature as soon as possible in this circumstance and explain why swift action was warranted.

If there wasn’t an emergency, and committee chairs weren’t notified a week in advance, the governor’s actions would not be valid.

Moving forward under the proposal from the Assembly Democrats, Cuomo would be required, 15 days after issuing an executive order, to release a report summarizing how the report impacted the economy and public health. The administration would also have to respond to written inquiries from state and local lawmakers on these topics.

Senate Democrats are honing their own plan, which, at least initially, consisted of a legislative committee with oversight of the governor’s decisions. A vote is possible in the Senate as early as next week.


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