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Capitol Bureau

Capitol Bureau correspondent Karen DeWitt reports on what is happening in Albany, and how the decisions made by lawmakers affect you. Karen reports for WXXI and New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.

She is also a regular contributor to New York Now, the statewide public television program about New York State government seen on WXXI-TV Sundays at 6:30 p.m.  

Matt Ryan New York Now

New York state legislative leaders have announced agreement on a bill to curb Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s emergency powers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The measure comes as Cuomo is embroiled in two scandals:  One over his nursing home policies during the health crisis, and another over accusations that he sexually harassed former staffers.

Governor Cuomo's office

State Attorney General Letitia James said Monday that she’s received from Gov. Andrew Cuomo the referral required to investigate him and his office on two former aides’ allegations of sexual harassment. The accusations include inappropriate touching, an unsolicited kiss, and invitations for sex.

One day after Cuomo offered his response to the charges, many elected officials, both Democrats and Republicans, said they don’t buy it.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Monday marked the one-year anniversary of the first confirmed coronavirus case in New York. Since then, over 38,000 New Yorkers have died from COVID-19 and more than 1.5 million who were sickened.

At this point last year, though, nobody imagined what was in store.

On the evening of March 1, 2020, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a press release, announcing that a case of COVID-19 had been found in New York. 

A second woman has come forward and accused Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment. Cuomo denies the allegations, but has agreed to make a referral to the state’s attorney general, Leticia James, to conduct an investigation.

Charlotte Bennett, a 25-year-old former executive assistant to Cuomo, told her story to the New York Times on Saturday. She joins Lindsey Boylan in accusing Cuomo of harassing, intimidating and inappropriate behavior.

Democrats in the State Legislature support new, higher taxes on New York’s richest residents as part of the new state budget, saying that a newly released study that shows the state’s 120 billionaires increased their wealth by $88 billion during the pandemic bolsters that claim. But Gov. Andrew Cuomo continues to resist raising their taxes.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his staff were in damage control mode Thursday as they faced two scandals: the governor’s handling of nursing home policies during the COVID-19 pandemic and the months-long suppression of the true number of residents’ deaths, and allegations that Cuomo sexually harassed a former staffer. 

Cuomo’s health commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, testified at a long-awaited legislative budget hearing. Zucker -- who had postponed his testimony, originally scheduled for three weeks ago -- appeared 2½ hours late. He immediately addressed the nursing home controversy.

Governor Cuomo's office

Two female former aides to Gov. Andrew Cuomo are accusing him of bad behavior, with one saying the governor sexually harassed her in incidents that included inappropriate touching and an invitation to play strip poker. Cuomo denies the allegations.

Lindsey Boylan, in a piece on the online forum Medium, said Cuomo invited her to play strip poker when they were alone during an October 2017 business flight on the governor’s private plane.

Governor Cuomo's office

For a time in 2020, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was considered one of the heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic for his steady and focused daily briefings when national leadership was lacking.

But recently, the governor has suffered a reversal of fortune, as a scandal over the suppression of the number of nursing home deaths dominates news coverage of his administration. Additionally, a new poll finds the majority of New Yorkers now think the governor did something wrong.

Residents of nursing homes in New York state will be able to have visitors again, starting this Friday, Feb. 26, under new rules laid out by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state health officials.

The New York State Senate is poised to strip Gov. Andrew Cuomo of some of his emergency pandemic powers and add an oversight commission to review the decisions the governor makes. There’s growing support for the measure as Cuomo has said that he was wrong to withhold, for months, the true number of deaths from COVID-19 at the state’s nursing homes. There are also reports of two federal probes into the state’s handling of the nursing homes during the pandemic.

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