Second District Assembly Member Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) on election night Nov. 6, 2018. File photo: Denise Civiletti

Assembly Republicans have introduced legislation that would limit the governor’ executive authority during states of emergency and allow county executives more power over state of emergency declarations in their counties.

The legislation was crafted to restore checks and balances for emergency declarations in the state exceeding 45 days, said North Fork Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) who today announced his support for the bill.

Under the proposal:

  • all future state of emergency declarations would be done on a county-by-county basis, with specific examples and reasons for the declaration;
  • all emergency declarations would be for a period of 30 days, which could be extended by 15 days by the governor. Any further extension would require legislative approval;
  • county executives, county board of supervisors’ chairpersons, or the mayor of New York City could request the state of emergency be lifted from their county. If the governor refuses, he would have to provide reasons why;
  • all future executive orders that limit freedom of speech, assembly, worship, the loss of liberty or property, or any fundamental constitutional right would be subject to judicial review.

“It’s time we brought back the natural checks and balances to the governor’s executive authority,” Palumbo said. “For over two months he has had sole rule over the state.”

“Although the health and safety of New Yorkers remains my top priority, it is time the governor returned co-equal control to the legislature and allow local control to our counties,” Palumbo said.

As numbers decline, Palumbo said, “it’s time we start to get things back to normal.”

Yesterday, Palumbo called on the governor to speed up the process to allow businesses on the East End to begin to reopen “in a safe and healthy manner.”

Palumbo said it is “very possible for wineries and other businesses to open to the public and hold safe, socially-distanced events, like other regions of the state have began to do.”

Wineries and other businesses are struggling for survival right now, the assemblyman said.

“They rely almost entirely on seasonal tourism and are on the verge of shutting their doors for good,” he said.

“We cannot ignore the financial impacts the New York PAUSE initiative is having on our local economies and businesses,” Palumbo said.

“Long Island businesses and residents will continue to do their part to stop the spread of COVID-19,” he said.

“I am only asking that we allow businesses in my district to begin to open their doors in a safe manner, before there aren’t any left,” Palumbo said. “The public has been able to socially distance at big box stores and liquor stores for months — I’m sure wineries, aquariums and farms can accommodate just as safely.”

Under New York’s phased reopening plan, there are four distinct phases, with intervals of two weeks from the start of one phase to the start of the next. The Long Island region entered Phase One today. Wineries are in phase two, according to local officials. Restaurants and general retail are in phase three and entertainment venues such as the aquarium are in phase four.

East End chambers of commerce called on the state to accelerate reopening for the East End, where businesses rely heavily on the summer season to survive for the year.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.