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O’Mara, Senate Republicans, Introduce Plan To Curb Cuomo’s Emergency Powers

ENDWELL, NY (WSKG) — New York State Senator Tom O’Mara (R-Big Flats) joined other Republicans Monday introducing their proposal to largely strip Governor Andrew Cuomo’s emergency powers.

The Senate minority conference, which includes O’Mara, announced Monday they would propose an amendment to an existing proposal which would fully rescind the emergency powers ceded to the governor during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I think the emergency powers were important for the first couple of months, but I can tell you by the middle of May, at least myself and members of the Republican conference were calling for those emergency powers to end,” O’Mara told WCNY’s Capitol Pressroom on Monday.

“Things had kind of stabilized, we kind of got our feet underneath us and I thought we were proceeding where we could've had more engagement from the legislature in our actual oversight of what actions the executive was taking," he added.

The amendment, which will be offered by Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt (R-North Tonawanda), would limit the governor’s ability to change certain laws and executive actions in the state of emergency. It would also require the legislature to renew those emergency powers every 30 days.

Senate Democrats are drafting a proposal that would establish a 10-person commission to approve actions by the governor done under his emergency powers. The commission would then have 72 hours. It would also have the power to reverse a suspension of any laws by the governor, which he could do in emergency situations prior to the pandemic.

“It's just outrageous suggestion. It's bad,” O’Mara said. “I definitely do not support that proposal in any way shape or form."

O’Mara argues that lawmakers should be held accountable for making difficult decisions surrounding the pandemic and the legislature needs to perform its oversight responsibilities. He believes if proper oversight had been conducted over the last year, the legislature would have unearthed answers about the administration’s reporting of nursing home fatality data, which has now engulfed the governor in scandal.

"He's virtually ignored any inquiries and any communications from the legislature on both sides of the aisle for the last 11 months,” O’Mara said. “That's no way to run government. That's no way to have an actively participating legislature."

O’Mara also told The Capitol Pressroom he does not yet back impeaching Cuomo despite calls to do so last week by state GOP chairman Nick Langworthy.

"I'm not calling for impeachment at this point, but I'm calling for the investigation that may lead to the basis for impeachment,” O’Mara said.

Vaughn Golden has been reporting across New York since 2016. Working as a freelancer while studying journalism and economics at Ithaca College, Vaughn has reported for a number of outlets including the Albany Times Union, New York Post, and NPR among others. Prior to coming to WSKG full-time, Vaughn was a reporter for the Watertown Daily Times. Vaughn now covers government and politics for WSKG.