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Goodell Pushes To Limit Cuomo’s Power

State Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, wants to amend the state’s executive law to limit both the actions and duration of a governor’s emergency powers.

A.10546 was introduced in the Assembly on Friday with a host of Republicans, including Assemblyman Joe Giglio, R-Gowanda, listed as co-sponsors. The bill has been referred to the Governmental Operations Committee. It has not yet been introduced in the state Senate.

“The Executive Law that authorizes the governor to declare a state-of-emergency has several restrictions, including a requirement that all declarations be consistent with the state and federal constitutions, involve the ‘minimum deviation’ from existing law, and involve experts to help ‘avoid needless adverse effects.’ During the COVID-19 pandemic, these restrictions were ignored,” Goodell wrote in his legislative justification.

Goodell proposes requiring every emergency declaration to be based on a county-by-county analysis, with a detailed explanation for each county based on specific facts and circumstances in each county to justify the emergency declaration. All declarations would be for 30 days but could be extended by the governor for an additional 15 days for a total of 45 days.

No further extension would be allowed unless the state Legislature gives its approval.

A.10546 law would increase local authority by allowing county executives or the mayor of New York City to request, with 15 days’ notice, an end to a state of emergency in their jurisdiction. If the governor does not grant the request, the governor must set forth with particularity the reasons why the request was denied based on the specific demographics, data or other information and characteristics related to that specific county or city. The affected county or New York City could then seek judicial review of the governor’s determination in the state Supreme Court within the affected county or New York City on an expedited basis. The governor would then have the burden within five days after the litigation is filed of proving with clear and convincing evidence that the state of emergency should continue. A judicial decision shall be rendered within 15 days after the service of process upon the attorney general and governor.

Finally, Goodell’s proposal would require due process protections for any actions that impair fundamental constitutional rights. In the text of an executive order, the governor would be required to include an administrative process for individuals or entities to file for a review of any action impairing constitutional rights and authorizes an individual to appeal to the courts after an administrative determination.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that that governor’s current state of emergency powers are too broad,” Goodell wrote in his legislative justification. “Since the governor first declared a state of emergency on March 7, 2020, he has issued numerous executive orders that have shut down the economy of the entire state and interrupted the daily lives of all New Yorkers, even in regions with few COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. This legislation is necessary to allow the governor to immediately act during periods of emergency but not unilaterally legislate through continuous extensions of executive orders. This legislation will restore legislative authority and our system of checks and balances.”

Goodell’s legislation comes after legislation that similarly would have limited the power of the executive during a time of emergency was defeated last week in the state Senate.

Legislation sponsored by Senators Joe Griffo and Patrick Gallivan would have immediately stopped the governor’s emergency powers while also limiting an executive’s powers to 30 days and required the governor to receive legislative approval for continuation of his powers. The amendment also would have mandated that the governor transmit weekly reports to the legislature during an emergency declaration and would have created communication between the governor and the parties affected by a suspension of laws during a state disaster emergency.

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