The Democratic-led New York state Legislature is expected to pass a measure today that will neuter Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s emergency powers — granted last year to manage the coronavirus pandemic — in a bid to take back some control from a governor facing spiraling twin scandals involving nursing home deaths and sexual harassment allegations.
The state’s top Democrats after Cuomo — state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Westchester) and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-The Bronx) — scheduled a special session for Friday morning at 10 a.m. to pass a bill that will strip the governor of his ability to issue executive orders tied to the coronavirus state of emergency.
The legislation would ban Cuomo from creating any new directives without the Legislature’s OK, and would bar the extension of any existing directives unless deemed “critical to public health.
The measure would take effect immediately once Cuomo signs it — which he indicated he was willing to do during a Tuesday press conference where he signaled he “agreed” with the lawmakers’ plans.
The move is largely a sanctioning on the part of state lawmakers who have felt sidelined throughout the pandemic as the governor’s ability to issue directives, including the addition of being able to rewrite laws, if deemed in the interest of public health.
But growing discontent with the governor’s handling of the pandemic among legislators reached a tipping point last month, when it was revealed the Cuomo administration undercounted deaths in nursing homes by as much as 50 percent followed by The Post’s exposé of his top aide’s admission to intentionally withholding crucial data pertaining to how residents died in New York facilities of COVID-19 over the last year.
Added to that, three women came forward over the last week detailing allegations of sexual harassment, including unwanted touching and inappropriate comments.
Former aide Charlotte Bennett described her experience with the governor, first to the New York Times and during a television interview with CBS, explaining she understood the governor wanted to have sex with her and he was asking her to find him a girlfriend.
Cuomo made a public statement saying he apologized, but qualifying it by saying that “if” he made anyone feel uncomfortable, he was deeply sorry and embarrassed.
He also denied allegations that he touched women without their consent, despite a photo of him holding the face of Anna Ruch at a 2019 wedding.