SCR 5 is a resolution authored by Sen. Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore), seeking to end Governor Gavin Newsom’s declared COVID-based State of Emergency, which has continued uninterrupted for 700 days – two years.
Originally written nine months after the governor’s emergency declaration, the State of California is still in a Declared State of Emergency, which gives the Governor a unilateral expansion of executive powers, allowing him to make significant changes without knowledge or approval from elected legislators.
Sen. Melendez’s resolution was finally heard in the Senate Committee on Governmental Organization Tuesday, even though it’s taken almost two years to get a hearing, as she noted.
Schools are reopened and most districts have lifted mask mandates. Businesses are open without masking or distancing requirements. So why won’t Gov. Newsom give up his special powers, and maybe even more importantly, why won’t the Legislature, which has the power to terminate a state of emergency with passage by both houses a concurrent resolution terminating the emergency proclamation, acted on SCR 5?
As Melendez noted in the Senate Tuesday, her resolution is not about vaccine mandates; it’s not about mask mandates, it’s not even about the numerous presumptions for workers comp for first responders or health orders seeking to protect people or employees from being safe and protected in their work places.
Melendez addressed how Senators would want to deflect and “talk about how the numerous mandates will end; or the gravy train of state funding for various COVID response measures that may end with the lifting of the state of emergency.”
“But SCR 5 is not about those things.”
“Senators, this resolution is about really one thing – the balance of power.”
“The balance between Executive power and legislative power to be precise.”
The bottom line of SCR 5: the Governor has too much unilateral control.
Labor union lobbyists for California Professional Fire Fighters and California Hospital Association opposed SCR 5 to end Gov. Newsom’s emergency powers, but not actual fire fighters, doctors and nurses, as some in the media claimed.
— Katy Grimes (@KATYSaccitizen) March 15, 2022
The California Hospital Association claimed, “If the Legislature passes SCR 5, which would terminate the state of emergency, these important flexibilities will end. Overnight, California will lose the thousands of out-of-state health care personnel and temporary spaces that allow us to care for patients safely.”
The California Professional Firefighters Association said, “the EMS system came to a near collapse as sick Californians accessed the 911 system to seek emergency care. Absent the flexibilities provided under the state of emergency allowing additional paramedics to staff emergency departments to care for patients, communities would be left without ambulance resources.”
Do these labor unions envision a permanent state of emergency in California? Weren’t they functioning prior to COVID?
As Melendez explained, the Governor has said this is no longer a crisis and the state is more prepared than ever to handle future pandemics. Gov. Newsom even held a press conference in a warehouse in San Bernardino that was stacked to the ceiling with PPE and other COVID resources. Melendez has asked, “How many more warehouses must you have for there to be enough? More importantly, wouldn’t those resources be better for people to have in the hands at this moment if they need them rather than sealed in boxes in a warehouse?”
“I’m extremely disappointed my colleagues in the majority party lacked the courage to stand up to their Governor and bring this state of emergency to an end,” Sen. Melendez said after the hearing. “California has been under a state of emergency for more than 700 days. During that time, local governments have been responding and mitigating the spread of COVID based upon their local knowledge and infection rates. It’s time for the state to allow local governments to take the lead and address emergencies locally without the shotgun approach of a statewide emergency. Twenty-nine other states have ended their states of emergency. Once again, California is leading from behind.”
SCR 5 was killed on a vote of 4 to 8 with all majority party Democrats voting against the measure. These are the members of the Senate Committee on Governmental Organization:
Senator Bill Dodd (D) (Chair)
Senator Jim Nielsen (R) (Vice Chair)
Senator Benjamin Allen (D)
Senator Bob Archuleta (D)
Senator Josh Becker (D)
Senator Andreas Borgeas (R)
Senator Steven Bradford (D)
Senator Steven M. Glazer (D)
Senator Ben Hueso (D)
Senator Brian W. Jones (R)
Senator Sydney Kamlager (D)
Senator Melissa A. Melendez (R)
Senator Anthony J. Portantino (D)
Senator Susan Rubio (D)
Senator Scott Wilk (R)