Assembly Republicans try without success to rein in governor’s powers

Posted 28 December 2020 at 7:33 pm

Press Release, Assemblyman Steve Hawley

During today’s legislative session, the Assembly Minority presented amendments intended to curtail the governor’s expanded authorities and provide greater balance and accountability in the “Covid-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act” (A.11181). The Assembly Majority rejected each proposal.

Earlier this month, members of the Assembly Minority wrote to conference leaders, including Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, urging lawmakers to rein in Gov. Cuomo’s unilateral powers as soon as the Legislature reconvenes. Despite 10 months of expanded authority and laws created by executive order rather than the legislative process, the Assembly Majority declined to take action.

“Our constituents deserve to have their voices heard in our government, and I am saddened the Majority has decided to deprive New Yorkers of their representation in state government by allowing the Governor’s unnecessary executive authority to persist,” Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) said. “This authority has long outlived its usefulness, and at this point a return to normal, constitutional governance is overdue.”

In addition, the Assembly Minority offered amendments to add protections for small businesses and small landlords also suffering losses as a result of the Covid-19 economic collapse. The “Covid-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act” creates a hardship declaration that effectively ends residential eviction and foreclosure proceedings until May 1, 2021. Members of the Assembly Minority proposed the same protections provided to residential tenants be offered to small landlords and businesses as a way to alleviate financial pressures and allow thousands of job creators and individuals to begin their recovery.

The three amendments proposed today intended to:

  • Restore legislative checks and balances for emergency declarations exceeding 45 days and ensure judicial due process rights for any actions that affect fundamental constitutional rights (A.10546, Goodell).
  • Provide the same protections extended to residential tenants in A.11181 to small businesses also facing mortgage and tax foreclosures. Also extend foreclosure protections to small landlords who are not covered by the bill in chief.
  • Require hardship declarations to include a statement, under penalty of perjury, that tenants have used their best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing, and to make timely partial payments that are as close to full payments as their circumstances permit.