POLITICAL ARENA

Biaggi targets gov’s COVID-19 powers

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Sean Connery once learned diamonds are forever. But the governor’s emergency powers to fight the coronavirus pandemic are not.

State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi is ready to introduce a bill that would begin restoring legislative power back to the, well, legislature. Although coronavirus remains an issue throughout the country — and has been teasing another wave in New York for the last couple weeks — Biaggi believes seven months is more than enough for Gov. Andrew Cuomo. And it’s time to start giving some of those responsibilities back.

“He has suspended over 250 laws, and passed 65 executive orders,” Biaggi recently told The Riverdale Press. “That’s a lot. That’s not healthy for government.”

Biaggi won’t deny there was indeed a time where granting the governor such powers was necessary. But that time has long since passed.

“People will say, and I think it’s fair, that in times of emergency, you want one person in power,” the senator said. “You don’t want 100,000 people in power, because it’s too chaotic. So that’s very fair.

“But that does not preclude inclusion of other leaders into the process.”

Cuomo has been focused on making coronavirus-related decisions unilaterally, typically with input only from his staff. He has not invited leadership from either the senate or the Assembly, Biaggi says, and these voices should be heard.

The governor has told reporters in the past that if the legislature disagrees with any of the decisions he had made during the crisis, lawmakers have the ability to take back those powers at any time. But the legislature has yet to make a serious move to do so, with Cuomo’s powers currently set to expire next spring.

Although Biaggi once worked in the governor’s office, the senator’s relationship with Cuomo has been far from friendly.

When reports surfaced claiming the governor was not going to allow the city’s elections board to fix misprinted absentee ballots last September, Biaggi tweeted a warning to Cuomo that he needs to fix the issue, or she’ll primary him herself.

But it wasn’t Biaggi’s interest in the governor’s mansion that got attention. Instead it was the social media response of Cuomo’s right hand, Melissa DeRosa, who asked Biaggi: “Are you drunk? Get a grip.”

Biaggi’s response? “I don’t drink.”

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