State legislators vote to limit Cuomo’s power
Two prominent Democrats who represent the Highlands — Jonathan Jacobson, whose state Assembly district includes Beacon, and U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney — have each called for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign.
Sue Serino, a Republican whose Senate district includes the Highlands, also has said Cuomo should step aside.
The governor, a Democrat, is facing allegations of sexual harassment and has been criticized for his administration’s handling of the reporting of nursing-home deaths attributed to COVID-19.
“The evidence that has emerged over the past two weeks is clear: Gov. Cuomo’s actions demonstrate an indefensible pattern of harassment and abuse,” Jacobson said in a statement. “Together with the evidence of the nursing home cover-up, the time has come for him to face the consequences of his behavior and step down. He no longer has the credibility to lead or to govern effectively.”
Sandy Galef, a Democrat whose Assembly district includes Philipstown, on Feb. 28 called for an independent investigation of the harassment allegations but has not called for Cuomo to resign.
In a statement on Thursday (March 11), Serino said “it is painfully clear that the governor should do the right thing and resign” and said she would explore “the possibility of introducing a constitutional amendment that would give the Legislature the power needed to force the executive to cede power to the lieutenant governor if he or she is the subject of an active investigation.”
In his statement today (March 12), Maloney said: “There needs to be a full and fair investigation, but I have made my own judgment. The victims of sexual assault concern me more than politics or other narrow considerations, and I believe Gov. Cuomo must step aside… I have every confidence that Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul is fully capable of assuming the duties and responsibilities of the office.” Maloney said the state needed a governor who is “laser focused” on the pandemic.
On March 5, Jacobson and Galef were part of a 107-43 majority that voted in support of a bill that would limit the governor’s emergency powers related to the pandemic response.
In the Senate, the measure passed along party lines, 43-20. Serino voted no, along with her colleagues. “This proposal is not a repeal of the governor’s emergency powers — it is an absolute sham,” she said in a statement. “It does nothing to change the circumstances, does nothing to restore balance in government, and even removes the April 30 sunset provision, essentially extending the governor’s total control indefinitely.”
She added on Twitter: “Truly cannot understand how members who have openly called for the governor to resign can justify voting for him to keep hold of the reins. Absolutely absurd that the governor was actually a part of the backroom deal to ‘roll back’ his emergency powers. Only in Albany would that be acceptable given all the disturbing events — nursing home death cover-up, sexual harassment allegations, bullying — of the past couple months.”
The emergency powers bill, which will be sent to Cuomo to enact, allows his directives to remain in effect for no longer than 30 days. He would need legislative approval for new orders concerning the virus response and could only extend existing orders if they were “critical to public health.” His emergency powers were set to expire April 30.