March 2 (UPI) -- The New York State Legislature agreed Tuesday to repeal Gov. Andrew Cuomo's emergency powers that were granted to him at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Senate Democratic leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announced the legislature would pass legislation to immediately strip Cuomo of the powers that were set to expire April 30.
"A year into the pandemic and as New Yorkers receive the vaccine, the temporary emergency powers have served their purpose -- it is time for them to be repealed," Heastie said. "These temporary emergency powers were granted as New York was devastated by a virus we knew nothing about. Now it is time for our government to return to regular order."
As the pandemic emerged last March, the legislature granted Cuomo broad authority to issue executive orders critical to New York's pandemic response.
Under the new legislation, Cuomo's executive orders related to managing the spread or reduction of COVID-19, facilitating the vaccination process or requiring the use of face coverings will remain in effect for an additional 30 days. In order to modify or extend the directives further, Cuomo will be required to notify the Legislature.
"I think everyone understands where we were back in March and where we are now," Stewart-Cousins said. "We certainly see the need for a quick response but also want to move toward a system of increased oversight and review. The public deserves to have checks and balances."
The decision came as Cuomo faces separate investigations for an alleged coverup of the COVID-19 death toll in the state's nursing homes and multiple allegations of sexual harassment, however, neither was mentioned in Tuesday's announcement.
New York Attorney General Letitia James issued a statement saying the executive chamber transmitted a referral to her office Monday providing her the authority to move forward with an independent investigation into the sexual harassment allegations.
"This is not a responsibility we take lightly as allegations of sexual harassment should always be taken seriously," she said.