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New York Republicans Seek To Curtail Cuomo's Emergency Powers

New York Senate Minority Leader, Republican Robert Ortt
Mike Groll
New York Senate Minority Leader, Republican Robert Ortt

Republican members of the New York State Legislature want to reign in some of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s emergency powers that he has held through the COVID-19 pandemic. The lawmakers said it’s time for more than just one branch of government to make all of the decisions.

Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt said the 20 Republicans will introduce a resolution on the first day of the session for the legislature to take back some of the emergency authority that majority party Democrats granted the governor 10 months ago, when the pandemic began. Ortt said those powers were supposed to be temporary.

“It would be one thing if he was making split second decisions about procurement (of medical supplies),” said Ortt. “But I think we have moved well beyond the time when that resolution was necessary.”

But he said Cuomo has been making big changes to the state’s laws through executive orders without consulting the Legislature. The governor also has special powers in the state’s budget to make changes to spending, which has led to the temporary withholding of significant funding to schools and local governments.

“We’re setting a very horrible precedent,” Ortt said. “By really making the Legislature almost window dressing.”

Ortt said governing the state can no longer be a “one man show.”

A spokesman for Cuomo, Rich Azzopardi, in a statement said Ortt and the other Republican lawmakers are “pandering” and said the Legislature already has the power to rescind any of the governor’s emergency orders in a joint resolution.

Karen has covered state government and politics for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 New York and Connecticut stations, since 1990. She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment, and interviews newsmakers.