New City, NY – Senator Elijah Reichlin-Melnick and 13 other Democrats in the State Senate released a statement calling for an end to the Governor’s emergency powers that enabled him to order unilateral directives. On March 3rd, 2020, legislation was passed to significantly expand the Governor’s executive powers under an emergency declaration, including giving him the ability to issue directives, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 14 Senators issuing the statement are Senators Elijah Reichlin-Melnick, Alessandra Biaggi, Jabari Brisport, Samra Brouk, Jeremy Cooney, Andrew Gounardes, Robert Jackson, John C. Liu, John Mannion, Rachel May, Gustavo Rivera, Julia Salazar, James Sanders, and James Skoufis.
The 14 Senators issued the following statement:
“Without exception, the New York State Constitution calls for the Legislature to govern as a co-equal branch of government. While COVID-19 has tested the limits of our people and state — and, early during the pandemic, required the government to restructure decision making to render rapid, necessary public health judgements — it is clear that the expanded emergency powers granted to the Governor are no longer appropriate.
While the executive’s authority to issue directives is due to expire on April 30, we urge the Senate to advance and adopt a repeal as expeditiously as possible.”
Senator Reichlin-Melnick added the following comments:
“When the legislature granted expanded emergency powers to the governor last year, New York faced an unprecedented and unpredictable crisis that called for an unprecedented response. Governor Cuomo rightly won praise for his steady handling of the first wave of COVID last spring and his informative public briefings that contrasted with the dysfunction and denial of the Trump Administration.
Now we face a different environment. New COVID cases are rapidly falling, hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers a week are getting vaccinated, and an end to the pandemic is in sight. Recent news reports have revealed that public health experts have been ignored by the Governor, and that his administration intentionally withheld important information about the pandemic from the Legislature. It’s time for us to act”