Stec says bill doesn’t repeal governor’s powers like it should
ALBANY — “Finally” was state Sen. Dan Stec’s first reaction when New York’s legislative majority leaders announced plans Tuesday to remove the emergency powers lawmakers gave Gov. Andrew Cuomo during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, though, Stec says their bill doesn’t cut it.
In a statement Thursday, Stec — a Republican from Queensbury whose district covers northeastern New York — echoed fellow Republicans including Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt in saying the bill is a sham that would let the governor continue the one-man lawmaking ability he has had for the last year, since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“Their bill to take away the governor’s emergency powers would actually extend them beyond the current April 30 sunset,” Stec said. “The governor would continue making emergency directives, which the Legislature could reject, but that’s backwards. The Legislature has taken a ‘back seat’ to the governor, and the whole point of rescinding his powers is for us, as a legislative body, to reassert our coequal role.”
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said that is not what the bill would do and called the Republicans’ claims “misinformation” in a statement issued Wednesday. He said the bill would immediately end the governor’s ability to issue new executive orders. As for the orders in effect now, instead of ending them all immediately it would let them stand for up to 30 days, although the Legislature could repeal any of them sooner than that. The governor could make a case for any law to be extended longer, in 30-day increments, but those decisions would be up to the Legislature.
Stec and some other Republicans also claim the legislative leaders negotiated the bill with Cuomo, a fellow Democrat. Heastie’s office denied this.
“In typical Albany fashion, the Democratic legislative leaders have managed to cut a deal to further empower the governor rather than rescind his emergency powers as promised,” Stec said. “Cuomo said he negotiated with the legislative leaders on the legislation. Assembly Speaker Heastie is denying that. This raises more concerns for me.”
“We did not negotiate this bill with the governor,” Heastie said in a statement.
Stec has been pushing to rescind the governor’s emergency powers since last summer, but that has not become the Legislature’s majority view until recently, as Cuomo faces accusations of sexual harassment and hiding data on COVID-19 deaths of nursing home residents.
“Governor Cuomo is under federal and state investigation, and he has demonstrated he is unfit to lead,” Stec said. “He should resign in my opinion. But, at the very least, his emergency powers should be rescinded.”