FILE - NY Pam Helming

New York state Sen. Pam Helming.

(The Center Square) – Senate Democrats recently rejected calls to pull back expanded powers that were granted to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March.

Senate Republicans, along with a coalition of government watchdog groups, have urged lawmakers to rescind emergency authority that has allowed Cuomo to issue more than 50 executive orders and change laws without the benefit of legislative input, a news release from the Senate Republican Conference said.

“The Governor’s continued use of his expanded powers undermines the foundation of democracy,” said Sen. Pam Helming R-Canadaigua, who brought the repeal measure to the floor. “We have a system of checks and balances that must be restored. While Republicans are willing to lead, Democrats continue to take cover and allow the Governor to make choices that should be up to lawmakers. Democrats should not continually come back to session to pass self-serving legislation only to abdicate the rest of their responsibility to the Executive.”

In a July 1 letter to state legislative leaders, the organizations Common Cause NY, the League of Women Voters, Reinvent Albany, and the New York Public Interest Research Group, asked for immediate review and new limits placed on Cuomo’s emergency powers, the New York Post reported.

The governor has described such requests as “stupid,” the news release said.

The effort was the second time Democrats have chosen to reject the Senate Republican Conference’s effort to remove the expanded powers, which the governor has had for more than 140 days, or nearly five months.

“Governor Cuomo’s use of broadened emergency power to make critical decisions impacting the lives of New Yorkers must end. People elect lawmakers to do their jobs, and Republicans are willing to tackle all of the issues confronting New York. It is shameful that Democrats let this continue,” said Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt, R-Lockport.

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