Cooper vetoes bill limiting governor’s emergency powers

RALEIGH, N.C. (WWAY) — Gov. Roy Cooper has vetoed a bill that would have limited a governor’s power to act unilaterally during an emergency, such as the pandemic.

The bill would have required governors to receive specific support from other statewide elected leaders to secure a long-term declaration of emergency. The new bill would have amended the Emergency Management Act, which has allowed Gov. Cooper to take a number of executive actions without legislative approval.

“North Carolina is emerging from a global pandemic with lives saved and a strong economy because of effective statewide measures to protect public health under the Emergency Management Act,” Gov. Cooper said in a statement released with his veto. “Critical decisions about stopping deadly diseases, or responding to any other emergency, should stay with experts in public health and safety, not a committee of partisan politicians. We must be able to act quickly and thoroughly when deadly diseases, hurricanes, or any other dangers threaten people’s lives and jobs. An emergency needs decisive, quick and comprehensive action, not bureaucracy and politics.”

Some Republicans feel that the governor’s powers are too broad regardless of party.

“North Carolina remains in a state of emergency, now for a total of 600 days; during that time, many in our state have felt their individual liberties deteriorate under extreme mandates and policies as a result of unilateral decisions made by our governor in the midst of the pandemic” House Speaker Tim Moore said in a statement. “I am disappointed that Governor Cooper is blocking a bill that simply allows for checks and balances, not just for him, but any governor, Republican or Democrat, in the future.”
Sen. Bill Rabon, who represents citizens in multiple counties in the Cape Fear, also criticized the veto.
“There is no emergency – none – that lasts for nearly two years,” Sen. Rabon said. “At that point, it’s no longer an ‘emergency’ – it’s the new status quo, yet for 19 months the Governor has held onto every iota of unilateral authority he has. It’s unhealthy, unsafe, and undemocratic.”
“House Bill 264 would have instituted common-sense checks and balances on the Governor’s executive authority, instead of consolidating power into one office,” Sen. Rabon continued. “Every passing day that the Governor refuses to relinquish his ‘emergency’ power is a day that harms our constitutional order.”
Categories: Brunswick, Local, NC, New Hanover, Pender

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