One of the many frustrating aspects of the COVID panic has been the reckless decisions made by state governors. You may be wondering how these sole executives had the power, all by themselves, to close schools, shut down businesses, and deny you access to church.
It’s because at the outset of the pandemic, their legislatures voted to give them “emergency powers.” These powers gave governors the ability to pass sweeping rules—without checks or balances by lawmakers—that held the strength of law. This is only allowed because of the emergency that was the pandemic—and they were supposed to expire after less than a month’s time.
But in many, if not most, states governors continued to wield this God-like power, refusing to give it up. If anyone asked, of course they’d claim it was for the “good” of their residents. It’s hard to believe a governor really needs that much control, especially when some vetoed resolutions to curb their power.
Now, at least in one state, voters actually passed amendments to ensure their governor never gets a power trip like this again.
Pennsylvania voters have approved proposed amendments to the Keystone State constitution that will curtail the governor’s emergency powers.
One of the amendments will allow for the state legislature to nix or extend a disaster emergency declaration via a concurrent resolution passed by a simple majority without having to submit the move to the governor for approval or a veto.
The other amendment provides that a disaster emergency declaration will expire after 21 days unless the state legislature acts to extend it. It also blocks the governor from declaring a new but similar emergency unless the legislature approves a concurrent resolution. [Source: Just the News]
The rest of the country, take notice. These kinds of amendments are needed in every other state. Pennsylvania voters passed two amendments that would prevent their governor from becoming a dictator, again.
The state legislature will be able to prevent a governor from trying to extend his overreaching power with a simple vote. And a disaster declaration will only last 21 days. It can only be extended if the state legislature decides it should.
This is what was sorely lacking during the pandemic. Governors would pass radical restrictions and rules, upending millions of people’s lives, without any means for state lawmakers to challenge it. Such a situation is the very opposite of how our democracy is supposed to work.
But governors claimed it was necessary because it would have taken too long if they went through state legislatures. No, that’s not why. It’s because they knew most state lawmakers would not approve foolish rules like mask mandates, work-at-home orders, and other decisions that crippled our economy.
Granting governors emergency powers forever was a terrible idea. Pennsylvania is leading the way to make sure it never happens again.
I hope the rest of the states are listening.
Author: George Jones