Good-government organizations and a think tank on Tuesday urged Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday to go further with her plans to have New York review the state government's response to the pandemic and create a commission with subpoena power.
The move could lead to a more robust investigation of the state's pandemic policies as the governor has taken the initial steps toward having an independent consulting group review how the public health crisis was handled.
"We believe that establishing a commission will help improve and guide the research of the contractor and give the public confidence that the review is independent and based on facts, not politics," the groups wrote in a letter to Hochul.
Signing onto the letter: Reinvent Albany, Common Cause New York, the League of Women Voters and the New York Public Interest Research Group. Also backing the subpoena-empowered commission push is the Empire Center, which successfully sued to have the state release nursing home fatality data.
Hochul has indicated the review of pandemic policies will be wide-ranging in scope, drawing in how long-term care facilities were affected, but also schools as well as businesses were impacted. Hochul in July announced her administration was releasing a request for proposals to hire an outside entity to conduct the review.
State lawmakers from both sides of the aisles as well as family members of nursing home residents who died in the initial months of the pandemic have called for the establishment of a commission as well. A subpoena-empowered panel would be able to bring in witnesses and gather documents.
The organizations also called for public hearings on the issue and allow it access to public officials who can provide insight on decision making.
"Our groups support the goals of this review and strongly believe that establishing a commission can help the state better meet those goals," they wrote.