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Albany Committees Recommend More Power For Governor's Office During State Emergencies

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TWC News: Albany Committees Recommend More Power For Governor's Office During State Emergencies
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ALBANY - A day after criticizing House Republican leadership for delaying a vote on Hurricane Sandy relief, Governor Andrew Cuomo heard Thursday from two committees on ways the state can better respond to emergencies.

The NYS Respond and NYS Ready committees are two of the four committees on the state's emergency preparedness set up by Cuomo in response to Hurricane Sandy.

They recommend that the state stockpile emergency supplies like water, food and a strategic fuel reserve and establish a civilian emergency response corps that includes specialists, like electricians who can help restore basic utilities.

The committees also recommend tougher building codes, generators at gas stations and a text message alert system that could deliver specific information based on the recipient's location.

They also ask for better protection of vulnerable populations, including New Yorkers who are immobile or live in nursing homes.

The committees also suggest that the governor's office have the authority to issue statewide measures, like gas rationing and curfews, that can override local municipalities.

"I pray that a situation that we went through never happens again, but I'm planning that it will happen, and I want to be ready, and I want to be more ready than we've been in the past," Cuomo said.

"Superstorm Sandy presented one of the greatest operational challenges that the state has ever seen. The storm caused enormous damage, unlike what we've ever seen in the state before," said Homeland Security Commissioner Jerome Hauer.

The governor warned that cost will be a big obstacle, but said he will recommend some ideas in his next State Of The State address on January 9.

Meanwhile, although Republican House leaders have now promised to hold a vote on $60 billion in Hurricane Sandy relief, Cuomo indicated he is still not ready to take them at their word. Reaching back in time, the governor referenced the 1996 film "Jerry Maguire" to make his point.

"I'm at the point where it is simple for me. Show me the money," he said. "Because I've heard a lot of things, and until I see the cash, I am going to reserve judgement because many of the things that have been said never happened."

Wednesday, Cuomo and Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey issued a joint statement saying the House of Representatives showed a "dereliction of duty" for not passing the bill for areas affected by Hurricane Sandy, before incoming representatives were seated Thursday.

Now, both the Senate and House of Representatives will have to vote anew on the legislation.

House Speaker John Boehner announced Wednesday that his chamber will vote on $9 billion for flood insurance on Friday and then vote on the remaining $51 billion in relief on January 15.

Asked by reporters about his Wednesday statement, Cuomo said he will not take back what he said about Congress.

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