ALBANY — State Sen. George Borrello says it’s beyond time to terminate the state disaster emergency declared by Gov. Andrew Cuomo over the coronavirus pandemic on March 7, 2020, and revoke the governor’s unilateral decision-making authority.
Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, is the Senate sponsor of a concurrent resolution Republican lawmakers announced Monday in calling for Cuomo’s emergency powers regarding COVID-19 to be wholly revoked.
“By extending his emergency powers indefinitely, Democrats handed the governor a tool for his political survival and he has used it to his full advantage,” he said Monday during a press conference in Albany. “Nearly every week he hosts a shameless photo op to announce the loosening of one restriction or another, which has helped perpetuate a ‘business as usual’ narrative and distract from the multiple scandals and investigations that he is facing.”
Borrello said Democrats have a “responsibility to end this charade” before the end of the Legislature session this week.
Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt and Assembly Republican Leader Will Barclay agreed.
“We are in the last week of the legislative session, and the majorities in the Legislature are content to leave Albany and let the scandal-engulfed governor have total control over every aspect of New Yorkers’ lives,” Ortt of North Tonawanda said.
“We are in a state of recovery — not emergency — and it’s time New Yorkers are able to return to their daily routines and a sense of normalcy,” Barclay said.
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, under the emergency declaration, Cuomo was given broad emergency powers to issue directives and suspend and modify statutes, local laws, ordinances rules and regulations in order to handle the state’s pandemic response.
Republicans said that while the original order was set to expire on April 30, Legislature Democrats effectively extended it indefinitely under legislation that they claimed would rescind the governor’s powers, but instead actually extended them until the end of the declared disaster emergency.
Despite Republican efforts, there was little sign the majority Democrats would move this week to rescind the emergency or the governor’s pandemic powers.
On Tuesday, Borrello, citing the inadequate review period and vetting protocols of the current process for considering and confirming appointees to state boards, agencies and judicial posts, proposed legislation that would reform the existing system to establish a minimum of a 60-day review period and an independent background investigation of nominees.
The measure would also establish funding for the majority and minority parties in both the Senate and Assembly to contract with third party entities to perform these investigations.
“Individuals appointed to serve on state boards, in agencies and judicial posts often make significant decisions that have can have an enormous impact on the lives of New Yorkers,” Borrello said. “Yet, despite the high stakes involved, nominations are typically pushed through during the end-of-session rush and are accompanied by only minimal supporting documents, such as a resume and questionnaire.”