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Carl Heastie vs. the free press: Assembly speaker wrongly keeps reporters at bay despite ending other COVID ways


Albany Good Governance Groups (yes, they exist, always trying despite Sisyphus’ obstacles to clean up the Capitol) are praising the Legislatureunder Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins ​​and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie for rejecting Gov. Hochul’s proposals to retain extraordinary executive budget powers that first emerged three years ago when COVID fell on New York.

That was for an emergency that would kill more than 62,000 New Yorkers and the governor was temporarily given the ability to move money without the normal checks and balances of the Legislature and state controller involvement in spending and borrowing decisions for the government.

Although COVID has not gone away, the emergency has and traditional procedures and powers can be resumed. Should there be another terrible wave of COVID or another dangerous pathogen to emerge and thus the need for a governor to take over, the Legislature can repeat its action beginning in April 2020.

So why, when Albany is reverting to pre-COVID ways, does Heastie continue to keep the Capitol’s accredited press corps locked up on the Assembly floor and restricted to sitting in the back and front of the chamber? For generations, reporters have roamed the room freely, harassing members who are willing to be harassed.

When Heastie did not respond to a request to restore full access from the Legislative Correspondents Association, which has represented journalists since 1890, Minority Leader Will Barclay took up the matter and raised it. a vote to amend the rules of the Assembly.

Instead of calling the roll on the merits, he got caught up in politics, as Heastie wasn’t about to let the lowly Republicans, outnumbered more than two to one, tell him who rules the house. The speaker made his point and the Barclay amendment was reduced by a party line count, 47 to 98.

So what is it, Mr. Speaker? Since COVID has subsided, why haven’t the COVID limits on free press movements been lifted? The reporters themselves would ask if they could approach you on the ground.

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