Hawley, Norris among 43 GOP Assembly members seeking end to state Covid mandates

Staff Reports Posted 9 February 2022 at 8:57 am

Steve Hawley of Batavia and Mike Norris of Lockport, two State Assembly members whose districts include part of Orleans County, are among 43 Assembly members who signed a letter sent to Gov. Kathy Hochul seeking to end state Covid mandates, including universal masking in schools.

The letter also went to Department of Health Commissioner Mary T. Bassett and Department of Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa.

The Republican conference in the Assembly wrote the letter trying to stop permanent adoption of emergency Covid regulations that Hawley said would empower the Department of Health and Department of Education to unilaterally implement mask mandates and “other Covid-related edicts.”

Hawley said the policy would essentially return emergency powers to Gov. Hochul in perpetuity, depriving the Legislature of its authority to design and implement such orders and the ability of local health departments to cater their pandemic response toward the unique circumstances faced by their communities.

“New Yorkers in every region of the state are demanding a return to normalcy, which includes a return to representative government, rather than endless mandates and heavy-handed regulations,” according to the letter signed by the 43 Assembly members. “While neighboring states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania are finally relaxing state mandates, New York is fighting in court to keep mask requirements in place while creating new, unilateral statewide orders without legislative approval.”

The Assembly minority conference said the state mandates with Covid “greatly impact our school children, businesses and communities.” The Assembly members said the governor needs to respect the authority of the state Legislature and local governments.

“This proposal is an attempt by Hochul’s administration to feign concern for public health in order to claw power away from the people, their local governments and their elected representatives, and cannot be allowed to stand,” Hawley said.