Assemblyman Mark Walczyk (R,C,I-Watertown) joined members of the Assembly Minority Conference in calling for Gov. Hochul to stop the permanent adoption of the state’s mask mandate and other emergency orders made during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Walczyk believes that no state agency, including the state Department of Health (DOH), should have the authority to make permanent mandates (effectively enacting laws) without oversight from the state Legislature. He is sponsoring legislation (A.8603) to prohibit this from happening.
“Whether you are talking about mask mandates, forced education testing or spending millions of taxpayer dollars, no agency should have the ability to do so without the oversight intended by our state’s Constitution,” said Walczyk. “There is a separation of powers in our government structure for a reason, and the overreach we have seen — particularly from the executive branch — throughout the pandemic is a prime example of why we need to enact a law like this.”
An often harsh critic of the governor stepping “out of her lane,” Walczyk and his colleagues sent Hochul a letter calling for her to immediately put an end to any attempt to make the state’s mask mandate permanent. Members of their Conference also blasted the DOH commissioner at the Joint Budget Hearing on Health held this week on this issue, as New York state has yet to show any reduction in its masking policy, even as neighboring states like New Jersey and Connecticut have announced withdrawal from their requirements.
Assembly Bill 8603 would prevent any state agency from adopting any emergency policy or rule as permanent. Currently, agencies have an ability to do so after the 90-day “emergency” designation expires. The bill is currently before the Assembly Governmental Operations Committee.
“The people of our state must be protected. New York is not a dictatorship," said Walczyk.” We are an elected, representative government. These are the foundations of our democracy.”