ALBANY — A panel of Greene County lawmakers is calling for the state Legislature to reconvene and restore checks and balances to New York government and scale back Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s emergency powers.
State leaders and local governments want more representation by the state Legislature during the public health crisis.
After missing the April 1 budget deadline and causing an interruption in pay for more than 120,000 state employees, the Legislature ended session early on April 3 rather than ending June 2.
Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay, R-120, began calling for lawmakers to return to the chamber earlier this month.
The Greene County Legislature’s Finance Committee passed a resolution in support of Barclay on Monday night, with all committee members seconding the motion.
“The Greene County Legislature hereby joins Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay on calling the Legislature back into session, to do the work of the people and allow government to go back to the three branches of power and government that the constitution supports,” according to the resolution.
“The emergency powers provided to the governor were always intended to be temporary,” Barclay said May 9. “As we see the COVID-19 threat begin to subside and we move in the direction of reopening New York, the time has come for state government to return to its basic principle of representative democracy. The decisions we face in the coming weeks will impact New Yorkers for years to come. When are regions opening up? How do we fix a $13 billion budget hole? What are we doing to help people and businesses fully recover? Answers to these questions need to be developed through a legislative process and in a manner that gives a voice to every New Yorker. One-party rule is rife with issues. But one-person rule is not how our system of government was ever designed to run.”
Copies of the Greene County resolution were sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Barclay, Assemblyman Chris Tague, R-102, state Sen. George Amedore Jr., R-46, President Donald Trump and the state Association of Counties.
“As we pivot towards reopening and normalcy, it’s time the constitutional authority of the Legislature is restored and the governor’s emergency powers be reined in,” Tague said. “These powers were always meant to be temporary, and it’s about time we in the Legislature get back to work and represent the people that sent us to Albany.”
Since declaring a state of emergency on March 7, Cuomo has issued 31 executive orders and made modifications to or suspended numerous state laws using authority granted to him by Executive Law Section 2-a of Article 2-B, which allows him to temporarily suspend or modify any statute, local law, ordinance, order, rule, or regulation, or parts thereof, of any agency during a State disaster emergency, if compliance with such statute, local law, ordinance, order, rule, or regulation would prevent, hinder, or delay action necessary to cope with the disaster emergency or if necessary to assist or aid in coping with such disaster, according to governor.ny.gov.
Laws that have been modified or suspended during the state of emergency include: various sections of New York Codes, Rules and Regulations, New York state Penal Code, state Labor Law, Public Health Law, Civil Practice Law and Rules, Mental Hygiene Law, Education Law, General Obligations Law, Real Property Law, Election Law, Criminal Procedure Law, General Municipal Law, Real Property Tax Law, Domestic Relations Law, Business Corporation Law, Partnership Law, Not-for-Profit Corporations Law, General Business Law, Retirement and Social Security Law, Real Property and Proceedings Law, Multiple Dwelling Law, Religious Corporations Law, Environmental Conservation Law, State Administrative Procedures Act, Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act, Insurance Law, Estates Powers and Trusts Law, Workers’ Compensation Law, Banking Law, Public Officers Law, Tax Law, Social Services Law, Public Authorities Law, New York Executive Law, New York Arts and Cultural Affairs Law, Urban Development Corporation Act, Transportation Law, Vehicle and Traffic Law, State Technology Law, The Family Court Act, The Court of Claims Act, The Uniform Courts Act, Legislative Law, State Finance Law, Public Service Law, Economic Development Law, General Construction Law, Highway Law, Village Law and General City Law.
During Wednesday’s briefing, Cuomo responded to a question about proposed legislation that would require the governor to submit weekly reports to the Legislature about spending and other updates during a state of emergency.
“Whatever they want to propose, they can propose and I will look at it,” Cuomo said. “I haven’t seen anything. I think, all through this, my updates, I probably have been the most informative elected official all through this. I’ve done this for about 80 straight days. I’ve briefed everyone every day. I have people come up to me on the street talking about rate of transmission. I feel very good about how exhaustive I have been in communicating the facts. The news hasn’t always been positive and uplifting.
“I don’t know what every other governor has done. I don’t think I can be any more public in my communication than I’ve been. We televised these for anyone who wants to watch.”
In a briefing April 18, Cuomo said the Legislature would be able to meet remotely, if that’s what they decided to do.
“In terms of passing legislation remotely, they can do that,” Cuomo said. “That’s up to them. As far as getting into a very complex issue that requires real analysis, and real data, and trying to do that on Zoom conferences, I don’t know that that’s the best way to do it. But that’s up to them as well.”
Requests for comment directed to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins’ offices regarding whether the Legislature will reconvene were not answered.