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State lawmakers close to curbing Cuomo's emergency pandemic powers

A bill moving through legislature would require the New York State Senate and Assembly to give OK executive orders.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Leadership of the Democratically dominated state legislature is ready to curb Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s pandemic emergency powers.

But a local attorney and former federal prosecutor described the changes as a “speed bump.”

For the last year, the governor has been able to alter state and local laws at will, literally with the stroke of his pen, by issuing an executive order. This power was granted to Cuomo so he and his administration could make quick decisions to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Anthony Bruce of Andreozzi Bluestein says the legislation introduced this week requires Cuomo to “submit his proposals to the legislature and the legislature will have oversight. It will slow things down but it doesn’t take away the powers of the governor.”

Governor Cuomo would still have the ability to issue emergency orders, but they would last just 30 days and require review by the Assembly Speaker, Senate President, and "relevant committee chairs."

All of those legislature members mentioned in the bill are Democrats, as is Cuomo.

If the governor wanted to alter or extend an executive order, he would again need legislative approval.

Minority Republicans had wanted a complete repeal of Governor Cuomo’s powers. Without the new legislation, the executive authority is set to expire on April 30.  

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. On 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.

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