State lawmakers could hold a virtual session as early as next week, for the first time since early April, and take up a package of coronavirus-related legislation.
It's not yet clear what lawmakers will act on, but members of the state Senate and Assembly over the last two months proposed a variety of pandemic relief measures meant to meant to make it easier to vote by mail, provide support and bolster benefits for frontline workers like hospital staff and EMTs.
The meeting is expected to be a virtual one, with lawmakers conducting business via video conference as they did when approving the state budget in April.
Since then, the coronavirus response in New York has been dominated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has held daily briefings aired on national television and signed executive orders.
Cuomo has held outsized power during the emergency after lawmakers approved a law giving him broad authority for the response.
Some legislators in both parties are now seeking to scale back that power, and it made fodder for Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy.
“Instead of stepping up to be there for the people they represent during one of our darkest hours, they skulked off and rolled over for a dictatorial governor who is single-handedly making all the decisions that affect 19 million New Yorkers," Langworthy said. "It’s high time they get back to Albany and get to work."
Some lawmakers are pushing for more oversight of the administration's response to the virus as well, including the effect it has had on nursing homes and trouble with disbursing unemployment benefits at the state Department of Labor.
A legislative return has been anticipated by both lawmakers as well as good-government organizations. Common Cause on Tuesday called on lawmakers to return or forfeit half of their $110,000 pay.
"Why should New Yorkers pay lawmakers $110,000 — in the middle of a budget deficit — to do only half their jobs? Voters elect our representatives to legislate for six months out of the year and handle constituent services, not one or the other," said Susan Lerner, the group's executive director.
But the release did litle more than anger some lawmakers, including a handful of Senate Democrats who were quoted in the news release about returning. The quotes were provided under a different context.
The lawmakers struck back in a joint statement from Sens. Alessandra Biaggi, Andrew Gounardes, Brad Hoylman, Robert Jackson, Jessica Ramos, Gustavo Rivera, and James Skoufis.
“It is extremely disturbing that an organization like Common Cause, which usually upholds principles of good government and transparency, decided to misuse our old quotes to misrepresent our views without our permission or knowledge," the lawmakers said. "The truth is all our colleagues are working extremely hard to serve their constituents during this crisis and we have all been in constant contact with our Senate leadership and Senate President Stewart-Cousins has made it clear we will be coming back into session imminently."