The leaders of the state's Democratic legislative majorities announced that under new legislation New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's powers would be limited by state legislators.
They said a deal had been finalized to strip Cuomo of his emergency coronavirus powers after growing outrage surrounding accusations of sexual harassment of several women and how he handled the deadly COVID outbreak in New York's nursing homes.
State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a longtime Cuomo ally, had at first resisted such measures. But on Tuesday, he joined State Sen. Andrew Stewart-Cousins, the Senate’s majority leader, to announce the move.
"A year into the pandemic, and as New Yorkers receive the vaccine, the temporary emergency powers have served their purpose – it is time for them to be repealed," Heastie said in a statement.
The bill seeks to repeal Cuomo's emergency powers, but it will keep certain health-related executive orders in place, with additional legislative oversights.
The change aims to prevent Cuomo from issuing new directives under emergency powers granted last year to combat the coronavirus pandemic, putting further restrictions on masks and shutdowns under local control.
The governor would still be able to modify existing orders – such as the percentage of indoor capacity allowed at reopening restaurants.
The legislation also requires the governor to publicly post all current suspensions and directives on his website within 15 days of becoming law.
And in case of future pandemics, the bill would allow state lawmakers to repeal a declared state of emergency through a joint resolution.
Several Democratic lawmakers are calling on Cuomo to resign following the sexual harassment allegations, including U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has often feuded with the governor, said that if the allegations turn out to be true, Cuomo can no longer govern.