Stec: End of emergency power for governor was ‘long overdue’

Sen. Dan Stec, R-Queensbury, speaks on the Senate floor March 5 as senators debate a bill to reduce the emergency powers they granted Gov. Andrew Cuomo a year ago as the COVID-19 pandemic began (Screenshot)

For a year, New York Sen. Dan Stec has been pushing for an end to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s emergency powers — the ability to make or change laws the state Legislature gave him at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. On Wednesday, the Republican from Queensbury was celebrating Cuomo’s announcement that the state of emergency would finally expire later this week.

Federal guidelines will still require New Yorkers to wear masks on public transit and in hospitals, nursing homes, prisons and homeless shelters, but some rules will end. Government meetings will return to in-person, for example.

“It’s certainly very welcomed news that Governor Cuomo is declaring the COVID state of emergency over,” Stec said in a statement Wednesday. “The decision is long overdue, in my opinion. We as individuals and communities want and need to resume our lives and go about our business free of the governor’s arbitrary and confusing executive orders.

“For months and especially in the wake of numerous scandals and investigations, I had pushed to end the governor’s emergency powers. The Legislature’s majority parties took a back seat to the governor for far too long. When the need for hour-to-hour and day-to-day decision-making had passed, the governor’s emergency powers should have as well, and the Legislature should have reasserted its Constitutional role as a coequal branch of government.”

State Assemblyman Billy Jones, D-Chateaugay Lake, also cheered the end of the state of emergency, although he didn’t mention Cuomo specifically.

“With the infection rates continuing to decline and the vaccination rate continuing to rise, it is past time for the state of emergency to end,” Jones said in a statement. “With less than five positive COVID-19 cases in my district, it is apparent that we are ready to end the state of emergency, and I am pleased that most restrictions should be lifted now. New York has come a long way since the beginning of the pandemic when the state of emergency and emergency orders were put in place, and I want to thank everyone once again for working hard to keep yourselves and your loved ones safe.”