Capitol Notes

No Senate vote this week on Cuomo’s pandemic powers

The Senate is not going to vote this week to curtail Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s pandemic powers, as the Democratic majority is still working on legislation that would create a new oversight committee.

A spokesman for the Senate Democratic Conference said Tuesday afternoon they were honing their proposal, with the goal of creating legislation that would make a workable law.

Because this legislation is unlikely to have the support of the governor, the bill – once introduced – will need to go through a normal three-day waiting period before getting a vote, which means it would have had to been introduced already to get a vote during this week’s legislative session schedule, which ends on Wednesday. The Senate Democrats don’t currently have plans to come back for session on Thursday or Friday of this week.

Last week, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, making the case for curtailing the governor’s extraordinary pandemic powers, said that the situation in New York is far different from when the Legislature granted the special directive power last year.

“We certainly see  the need for a quick response but also want to move toward a system of  increased oversight, and review,” Stewart-Cousins said in a statement. “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.”

The Senate Democratic plan outlined last week to reporters would consist of a 10-person legislative commission that would have the authority to approve or veto certain actions taken by the governor. The panel would have 72 hours to weigh in on any directives or suspensions of laws by the governor.

Assembly Democratic Speaker Carl Heastie said Monday on Capital Tonight that his members want more transparency and accountability from the executive branch, but has not identified a plan of action.


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