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Borrello effort to curb Cuomo’s executive power fails

State Sen. George Borrello

State Sen. George Borrello’s effort to end Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s emergency powers on Tuesday failed in the state Senate.

Senators were debating S.2733, which would reduce the number of signatures candidates must collect for designating petitions by 70% in the 2021 election cycle.

Borrello offered an amendment that he argued was germane because his amendment also would deal with the number of signatures on nominating petitions because Cuomo’s third executive order issued on March 14, 2020, decreased the number of required signatures on nominating petitions for the 2020 election by 70%. The Sunset Bay Republican argued that his proposed amendment sought to return balance to the legislative process.

Borrello said state legislators ceded power to Cuomo last year, at the governor’s request, because no one knew if the state Legislature would be able to function during the COVID-19 pandemic. That action was taken even though the Article 3 of the state Constitution vests legislative power with the Senate and Assembly.

Since last March, Borrello said, it has become clear that the legislature can function during the pandemic by passing legislation and meeting. The senator also argued that the time has come to end Cuomo’s broad executive authority because, in Borrello’s view, Cuomo has taken advantage of the legislature’s “good faith, constitutionally circumspect” transfer of legislative powers not just to address COVID-19, but to advance policy ideas that have had little to do with the virus.

“The time for this constitutionally circumspect delegation of legislative powers must come to an end,” Borrello said. “It is time for the legislature to reassert itself, and reclaim its clear constitutional authority and obligations. That is exactly what this amendment would do. This amendment would repeal the ability of the governor to make laws, on his own, without the legislature. We live in a Republic, not a monarchy. We need to do our jobs as members that are duly elected to this legislature. Not cede it to the Executive for expediency. It is time for us to return to the Constitutional obligation that we have to be a separate, co-equal branch of government and that is what this amendment will do.”

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