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NY Republicans want to check Andrew Cuomo’s emergency COVID-19 powers

ALBANY — Republican lawmakers are seeking to strip Gov. Andrew Cuomo of his emergency COVID-19 powers.

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Cuomo’s emergency powers were granted last spring by the state Legislature, allowing him to rewrite, suspend and even create new laws in the name of preserving public health throughout the pandemic.

But the Assembly GOP conference argues the governor’s authority should be trimmed, penning a letter Tuesday to state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Westchester), Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt (R-Lockport) and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-The Bronx) arguing certain steps he’s taken — like the second round of indoor dining suspensions in New York City — go beyond his jurisdiction.

“It’s constant fatigue I’m hearing from constituents. When are we going to stop this one-person rule in New York?” Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay (R-Syracuse) told The Post.

“When you see policies like another closing of indoor dining in New York City, that is going to make more restaurants and bars go out of business, it seems like we are going over this again.”

Right now, the Democrat-controlled state Senate and Assembly could pass a joint resolution completely revoking Cuomo’s coronavirus power.

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But Barclay said legislation should be passed that requires Cuomo’s overall emergency powers to be renewed every 30 days and also require the input of local government officials, like county executives. 

Cuomo’s authority extends until April 2021 and he can issue specific directives — like the mask order — that are tied to a 30-day timeline.

He has used his power to impose and extend state of emergencies declarations in the past, which are also subject to 30-day renewals, in relation to snow storms, flooding or even the city’s subway system.

“At times, you do need the executive to make some decisions but we think there should be some sort of rails on his power that doesn’t completely cut out an equal branch of the conference,” Barclay continued. 

“It’s not unreasonable to do it if we go back into session. We want to trim the governor’s powers. This should be our first priority.”

But any such move is unlikely to gain the needed support to pass. The request comes at a time when the Legislature and Cuomo are grappling with ways to fill a massive revenue shortfall and budget deficit thanks to the COVID-10 pandemic. 

Heastie told reporters in Albany he predicts reconvening lawmakers in a special session before the Jan. 1 is on the table, especially as measures like tax hikes on the state’s millionaires and billionaires as well as revisiting the income tax rate are on the table. 

Cuomo has said he wants to keep waiting for financial assistance from Washington, but also acknowledges that raising taxes, layoffs and budget cuts are likely on the grim horizon. 

A host of good-government watchdog groups had called for a similar scaling back of Cuomo’s authority over the summer as then, cases and positivity rates were looking positive. But over the last month, hospitalizations have grown and virus-related deaths have risen back into double digits, with state officials including Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio threatening a shutdown could be imminent if levels do not abate.

Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi shot down the Assembly GOP’s proposal: “Built into the powers is the legislature’s ability to undo any executive action with concurrent resolution that doesn’t require the Governor’s signature. The only thing I checked is their appetite for dumb and ill-informed cheap shots.”

A spokeswoman for the state Senate Republicans told The Post the conference supports the move. Requests for comment from Stewart-Cousins and Heastie were not immediately returned.

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