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NYS lawmakers to vote on legislation that would repeal Gov. Cuomo's executive order powers

The legislation has support from the vast majority of WNY Democrat and Republican lawmakers.

NEW YORK — New York State lawmakers announced Tuesday, they will pass a bill to partially repeal Gov. Andrew Cuomo's executive order powers.

The governor was granted temporary emergency powers by the state legislature in March of 2020 to respond to the pandemic, since then he has implemented dozens of executive orders. Those executive powers were set to expire at the end of April, this legislation would end them immediately.

"There is a bill that will be coming out later today or sometime tomorrow that would repeal those executive powers, keep in place any directives that have already been advised and once those directives expire then that expires as well," said NYS Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes.

The legislation would keep any executive order currently in place, but they have an expiration date. When that time comes, Peoples-Stokes said Governor Cuomo will need to notify key lawmakers about the need for an extension and listen to feedback.

In a 2 On Your Side original report from February 4, reporter Steve Brown canvassed all of WNY's state lawmakers to see if they support revoking Cuomo's executive powers.

All 10 GOP members said yes, but the responses among Democrats were more vague. Tuesday, 2 On Your Side canvassed Democratic lawmakers again and found the vast majority are now in favor of it.

Assembly Members Crystal Peoples-Stokes, Pat Burke, John Rivera, William Conrad, and Monica Wallace all said they would vote to revoke the governor's powers, along with State Senator Sean Ryan.

“I strongly support and will co-sponsor legislation that will revoke the governor’s emergency powers. Last March, when COVID-19 cases were skyrocketing and so much was unknown, we needed state government to respond quickly to limit the spread of the virus and save lives," said Assembly Member Monica Wallace. "So, an overwhelmingly bipartisan legislative majority granted the governor emergency powers to deal with the unprecedented crisis. Thankfully, that dark moment has passed, and it’s now time to get back to a normal working order."

“The time has come to restore the checks and balances of our State government. To that end, the Legislature has reached an agreement to revoke the Governor’s emergency powers, removing his ability to issue new directives without lawmakers’ approval," said Assembly Member William Conrad. "I will support the legislation, which I believe will reaffirm the endowed function of the Legislature, while upholding the State’s duty to continue protecting its citizens against COVID-19.”

Assemblywoman Karen McMahon released a statement saying in part, "As infection rates continue to fall and more people receive the COVID-19 vaccination, I'm hopeful that the worst of the pandemic is behind us. This proposal is a responsible way to address the public health crisis in a manner that requires notice to and input from the legislative branch."

We did not hear back from State Senator Tim Kennedy, but in February he said he was in favor of leaving emergency powers in the hands of the governor.

State Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt said he believes the recent Democratic support stems from not only the sexual harassment allegations but also the NYS Attorney General's recent report on COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes.

"It's indisputable, there is no one watching at home that thinks this just happened, it could have happened a month ago, it should have happened two months ago, but it's happening this week - you do the math," Ortt said.

Peoples-Stokes responded to that critique. 

"Critics would like to say that somehow what happened with the nursing homes warrants removing executive powers but honestly Leanne, what happened with the nursing homes doesn't require executive powers, those powers the governor already had, it had nothing to do with the legislation we passed last year," she said.

Ortt and Peoples-Stokes said they expect they could vote on the bill as soon as the end of the week.