California Governor Gavin Newsom just vetoed a bill which would have limited a governor’s (his) emergency powers during a state of emergency, to the specific issues of the emergency, and specifies that the Governor may only suspend a statute or regulation during a state of emergency in connection with the specific conditions of that emergency.
The purpose behind the bill is to clarify the broad ambiguities of the Governor’s authorized powers and ensure that these powers are limited and focused, according to the bill’s author Assemblyman Kelly Seyarto (R-Murrieta).
After more than two and a half years of emergency powers – more than 900 days – ostensibly for the Covid pandemic, Gov. Newsom’s veto of AB 1687 appears self-serving.
2 years of emergency powers and Gov. Newsom vetoes AB 1687, specifying emergency powers are authorized only when in relation to the conditions of an emergency. Gov called it “redundant layers of justification.” Only a minority of states give governors limitless emergency powers.
— Katy Grimes (@KATYSaccitizen) September 28, 2022
Assembly Bill 1687 provides that the California Governor may only suspend a statute or regulation during a state of emergency in connection with the specific conditions of a proclaimed state of emergency.
Even more important, AB 1687 was passed on bipartisan votes by legislative committees and both houses of the California Legislature.
In his veto of AB 1687, Gov. Newsom said, “Additional redundant layers of justification, as required by this bill, would only invite frivolous lawsuits. This could delay or derail state emergency response and recovery efforts, negatively impacting the most vulnerable California residents and potentially costing lives.”
There is no redundancy. California is part of a minority of states that give the Governor limitless power. Under current law, the Governor can declare a state of emergency for an oil spill in Los Angeles and suspend housing building permits in Shasta City. Redundancy is non existent and even if it was true, redundancy of law doesn’t cost time or lives… it just clarifies at best.
The Legislature frequently passes “redundant” bills to clarify the law, or restate the law, to make sure the law has no room for loose interpretation and is followed.
Assemblyman Seyarto’s office did a national review of states, and found that California is one of only nine states that does not limit the Governor’s powers to emergency response. “Nationally, more than 300 bills in 47 states have been proposed to refine a governor’s power to declare and respond to an emergency, with 12 states enacting new laws to give legislators, the representatives of the people, more control over the duration of an official emergency declaration, oversight of federal emergency aid, and the ability to call the legislature into session in an emergency.”
Newsom’s veto says the bill will “invite frivolous lawsuits” and could “potentially cost lives,” claiming emergency response could be delayed or derailed. If this is true, then how the the bill make it through both houses of the Legislature?
“I am not surprised by the Governor’s decision to veto this bill, but I am disappointed,” Assemblyman Seyarto said. “This was his opportunity to show Californians that he recognizes the power of his office and respects its limits. AB 1687 would have ensured the accountability and integrity of the use of executive emergency powers and safeguarded them from being misused as a politically expedient tool or as a substitute for the legislative or judicial review process.”
Gov. Newsom not only still holds his March 4, 2020 State of Emergency powers, he issued more than 500 orders, modifying dozens of laws and regulations spanning most divisions of the California codes, Seyarto said. “While most of these executive actions have been rescinded, the effects on education, employment, and the economy are still extensive.”
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