RealClearInvestigations – While many government leaders sound the all clear message on COVID-19, dropping vaccine restrictions and mask mandates, some states and municipalities are clinging to the emergency powers that allowed them to govern people’s behavior in unprecedented ways.
Citing the need to direct emergency funding and oversee hospitals, they have held on to their emergency orders even as many restaurants, shopping centers, and sports arenas are once again packed and lingering pandemic concerns have faded into the background of a more normal life.
Emergency orders at the state level are usually issued in response to temporary threats, especially weather disasters, and are wrapped up in a few days or weeks.
Soon after the new coronavirus exploded in March 2020, most governors issued broad executive orders. Under these powers, governors banned crowds, closed businesses, and imposed mask and vaccination mandates. They have also deferred to unelected public health officials in imposing restrictions.
Critical lawmakers are now challenging the power to take such sweeping actions – and keep the measures in place indefinitely – saying pandemic lockdowns exposed leaders’ unduly stringent authoritarian impulses.
“Gov. Steve Sisolak of Nevada, Democrat: A state of emergency in perpetuity.”
Ruling by decree over an extended period during the pandemic “is part of a broader move to condense power to the executive branch,” said Nick Murray, policy analyst at the conservative Maine Policy Institute, who has studied emergency policies.
“You see these things come into play during a crisis and then [remain in place] to give more executive power,” Murray said. “It’s a theme that has devolved into bureaucracy.”
In Nevada, the state of emergency has been declared in perpetuity, even as state lawmakers have unsuccessfully tried to pass measures limiting the authority of Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak.
In Kansas, the emergency authority of Gov. Laura Kelly, also a Democrat, extends to January 2023. She has clung to the order even as the state’s director of public health – a now-estranged former political ally – questioned the need for a continued state of emergency.
And in North Carolina, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper in November vetoed legislation that would require wider input from elected leaders if he wished to continue his ability to issue restrictions under a declared emergency … READ MORE.