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Top NY Democrat wants state legislature to reconsider Cuomo’s COVID-19 powers

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A top New York Democrat wants state lawmakers to reconsider Gov. Cuomo’s COVID-19 powers in light of the state attorney general’s report that found the state undercounted nursing home coronavirus deaths.

State Sen. Liz Krueger, chair of the state Senate Finance Committee, also said Tuesday night that the state legislature should conduct oversight hearings following the damning report that was released last week.

“Over the course of the last year I have stood by the Legislature’s decision to give the Governor extraordinary emergency powers because I believed rapid decisions would have to be made on behalf of the people of our state,” Krueger said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, based on discoveries from the last few days regarding the intentional underreporting of deaths of nursing home residents throughout the state and the mass exodus of the state’s public health experts from their jobs, I believe the legislature should conduct oversight hearings and re-evaluate the continued use of such broad emergency powers by the Executive,” the lawmaker said.

Cuomo’s emergency powers were granted last spring by the state Legislature, allowing him to rewrite, suspend and even create new laws in the name of preserving public health throughout the pandemic.

The governor’s spokesman, Rich Azzopardi, said if state lawmakers are unhappy with Cuomo’s orders, they can simply override them.

“The governor’s executive power is very limited. Any executive order by the Governor can be easily over-ridden by a simple majority of the legislature.”

Azzopardi also brought up the topic of indoor dining, which Sen. Krueger has been opposed to if the city’s COVID-19 positivity rate reaches three percent.

“We understand that the Senator believes restaurants should have indoor dining closed,” Azzopardi said.

“The Senator has the luxury of financial security BUT many people need to work to support themselves and their families. We cannot be blind to [the] economic realities of the thousands of restaurant workers and their families,” he said.

Indoor dining in the city is set to resume on Feb. 14 at 25 percent capacity. Again, Azzopardi said if the legislature is against the reopening, they can vote to override it.

“That is their prerogative. Any executive order is immediately null and void with a simple majority vote,” he said.

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