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Cuomo uses emergency power to suspend a public notice law

To the editor:

Late last Monday night, the governor issued Executive Order 202.22 suspending the requirement that cities and towns publish a notice in a local newspaper that the annual property tax assessment roll has been completed and the date when complaints regarding assessments will be heard.

On March 2, the Legislature granted the governor the right to suspend any law that, in his opinion, interferes with the protection of public health during the COVID-19 pandemic. The emergency powers law expires on April 30 of 2021. The governor did not explain how newspaper publication of the notice of completion of property tax assessment rolls would impair public health.

This is the second time recently that the governor has taken advantage of the pandemic to remove public notice advertising from newspapers, which has been a longtime goal of his administration. As part of the state budget that was passed just as the pandemic was spreading rapidly, the governor eliminated competitive bidding on public works contracts, wiping out the associated newspaper public notice of bidding opportunities.

It is distressing to see the governor use his unlimited emergency powers to take aim at a source of revenue for local newspapers when newspapers are devoting increasingly scarce resources to covering the impact of COVID-19 on their communities. These rollbacks also deprive citizens of access to information about how their tax money is being assessed and spent at a time when many citizens are struggling financially.  

Diane Kennedy

President

New York News Publishers Association

Albany