New York Lawmakers Pass Measure to Limit Governor Cuomo’s Emergency Powers, Oversight Hearings on NYC FY22 Preliminary Budget, Event, Arts and Entertainment Venues Can Reopen Beginning April 2
March 8, 2021
March 8, 2021
Last Friday, the New York State Legislature passed a bill that alters and rescinds emergency powers granted to Governor Andrew Cuomo last year to manage the COVID-19 pandemic. This comes after a week where the Governor faced numerous allegations of sexual misconduct, as well as reports that his administration was found to have undercounted the COVID-19 toll on nursing home residents. The legislation immediately repeals the Governor’s expanded emergency powers, and he cannot unilaterally issue any new directives moving forward. Notably, the legislation does not overturn existing executive actions, such as the mask mandate and capacity limits. However, the Governor must justify to the Legislature before extending or modifying existing directives moving forward. The Legislature delivered the bill to the Governor on Friday, who now has 10 days to act on it, although he has indicated that he supports the measure. In addition to the above, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie both called on Governor Cuomo to resign over the weekend.
Last week, the NYC Council began holding oversight hearings on the NYC FY22 preliminary budget, which totals $92.8 billion and was presented by Mayor de Blasio in January. The FY22 preliminary budget is balanced primarily through a $2.43 billion reduction in spending as compared to FY21, and the prepayment of FY22 expense from revenue surplus identified in the FY21. The $2.43 billion reduction in spending was achieved through reductions in head count due to attrition, re-estimated debt service costs, and cuts to City agencies, notably including a $32M cut to Dept. of Sanitation which could impact collections and other services. While it is not unusual for the Administration to restore agency cuts in the executive budget or the adopted budget, restorations are not guaranteed and will be particularly challenging given the City’s overall economic picture. You can access the Council’s Committee Report with more information about the City’s preliminary expense budget for FY22 here. The Council will continue to hold oversight hearings in the FY22 preliminary budget throughout the month of March and you can find the full schedule here.
Last week, Governor Cuomo announced that event, arts and entertainment venues can reopen beginning April 2nd. Cuomo stated that these venues can reopen at 33% capacity with up to 100 people indoors and 200 outdoors. Further, if all attendees present proof of negative tests prior to entry, venues can allow up to 150 people indoors and 500 outdoors. The Governor also announced that beginning March 22nd, residential gatherings of up to 25 people can be held outdoors, and non-residential social gatherings can occur with up to 100 people indoors and 200 outdoors. Last, Cuomo proclaimed that domestic travelers who have been vaccinated within 90 days are no longer required to quarantine or test-out.
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