What to Know
- The Senate Democratic Majority on Wednesday will move to suspend several executive orders placed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic
- This marks another blow to the Cuomo administration. In March, New York legislators voted to strip Cuomo of his pandemic-linked emergency powers and return matters like lockdowns to local control
- The latest development comes as Cuomo faces three worsening scandals -- accusations of sexual harassment by various women, accusations of verbal abuse by legislators, and accusations of mismanagement in the handling of the pandemic in nursing homes.
The Senate Democratic Majority will move to suspend several executive orders placed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic on Wednesday, News 4 New York learned.
“New Yorkers have stepped up to take the appropriate safety precautions to curb the spread of COVID-19,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said in a statement. “As more New Yorkers continue to get vaccinated, and our infection rates continue to decline, it is time to begin removing certain restrictions and regulations that are no longer necessary, so we can safely reopen and rebuild our state's economy. We ask New Yorkers to continue to heed public health guidance as it relates to mask wearing, observe social distancing precautions and get vaccinated so that we don’t lose ground in our recovery.”
Some of the these repeals will call for food sales in bars and restaurants to no longer be required with alcoholic beverage purchases as well as to formally eliminate vaccination penalties and priority group regulations that slowed down the vaccination process, according to a statement by the Senate Democratic Majority. The Executive Order Directives that will be acted on include:
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- Repeal of Sale of Food with Alcoholic Beverage Requirement: Food sales will no longer be required for alcoholic beverage sales in bars and restaurants, for on premise or off premise consumption.
- Transparency for Individuals Assisting in COVID Operations: Individuals who volunteer for significant government work will be treated as Public Officers in order to comply with government disclosure and transparency rules.
- Timely and Accurate Administration of Vaccines: Outdated compliance rules for vaccine suppliers, such as full utilization of vaccines on hand within one week or additional paperwork mandates, will be relaxed. This repeal eliminates unnecessary penalties and prioritization rules that slow down the vaccination process and are no longer necessary in light of current vaccination rates and appointment availability.
Wednesday's planned vote by the state Senate and Assembly will mark the first time that the legislature votes to end of the pandemic-related executive orders.
The New York State Restaurant Association said that they were "encouraged by the news that the State Legislature plans to eliminate the burdensome mandate that food be purchased with alcohol. This will singlehandedly boost the bottom line for restaurants and bars all over the state, and many have yet to reopen because of this specific requirement."
The governor's office didn't sound disappointed in the decision, saying that the limitations were likely going to be lifted soon anyway.
"With the number steadily decreasing, lifting this COVID-related restriction was something we were in the process of implementing in the coming days," said senior adviser Rich Azzopardi. "We are pleased that the legislature agrees that we have made enough progress on COVID that New York is in a position to repeal this provision."
The latest development comes as Cuomo faces three worsening scandals -- accusations of sexual harassment by various women, accusations of verbal abuse by legislators, and accusations of mismanagement in the handling of the pandemic in nursing homes.
In March, New York legislators voted to strip Cuomo of his pandemic-linked emergency powers and return matters like lockdowns to local control.
The deal made between New York's Assembly and state Senate reversed emergency powers granted to Cuomo exactly a year ago, in the early days of the COVID pandemic, that gave him free rein to order measures like quarantines. It will allow executive actions critical to public health to remain in effect while permitting other temporary emergency powers to expire on April 30, but Republican critics have argued the "bogus bill" doesn't go far enough.
Under the bill, Cuomo would still have the power to keep alive his existing COVID-19 rules or tweak them. But he’ll no longer be allowed to make decisions without any input from the Legislature. He’ll have five days to notify legislative committees and local governments and respond to their questions in certain circumstances.
Cuomo can bypass that five day notification requirement if he says it’s needed to avoid an “imminent threat to public health or safety.” He would still have to provide some opportunity for comment.
Where a local government in the state is exclusively impacted by an ongoing executive action, the local government's leaders will also receive notice and an opportunity to comment on the continuation or modification.