A bill that would end California’s state of emergency and remove Governor Gavin Newsom’s emergency powers to close schools, businesses, and other gathering areas faces another week of challenges in the Senate Rules Committee.
A bill to end pandemic emergency powers held by the Governor
Senate Concurrent Resolution 93, authored by Senator Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore), would effectively end California’s state of Emergency that began on March 5th. Should they end, closures would fall back to state and local officials instead of being made solely by the Governor.
Backers of the bill have said that Democrats have stopped SCR 93 from being heard both in committee and on the Senate floor, with a motion to have the Senate vote on the bill being denied early Monday as proof. Supporters of the bill, including Senator Melendez, want the economy to open back up, for schools to reopen in-class where applicable, and for local County Boards of Supervisors’ control to be reestablished.
“The bill is being held in the Rules Committee,” said Senator Melendez in a statement on Monday. “I have asked that it be brought to the Senate floor so that everyone has the opportunity to weigh in on it whether or not they think that the Governor is able to control all of California and cut legislators out of the mix.”
“I don’t think that’s what our constituents want and I think they want to see us make more of the decisions. Frankly, I think Californians have had enough of the one man rule that has taken place in the last six months. We have people who want to get back to work, businesses that have closed that will never be able to reopen now, and we want our kids to go back to school. And none of this can happen if the Governor is making all the shots. We want the legislature to be brought back in our midst. We want local officials to be brought back, and we want the Governor’s reign over the state of California to end.”
Lack of bill movement in the Senate, Rules Committee
Opponents of the bill have argued that COVID-19 still remains a threat, and that decisions by the Governor, largely influenced by health and education experts, are still needed, especially after the state legislature ends the next session at the end of the month.
“It may not be popular, but it’s what is needed,” explained Dr. Mitchell Laurent, a doctor who has treated COVID-19 patients since March, in a Globe interview. “If every county has its own standards, then it can be spread easily, as we’ve seen with California before.”
“And during another outbreak, we need a quick yes or no answer on locking things down. Counties don’t always work fast. And if we need a state decision, we need to have an informed and quick choice.”
“Think of this as a war. Like any war laws toughen up and give the executive branch more power, and when over, returns the power. This is a war on COVID-19, on a virus, and we need that power for a little more time. Forever? Of course not. But we need to see this through.”
Senator Melendez has attacked this view in previous SCR 93 statements, pointing out that many Democrats have privately said they want to end the extra Governor powers as well.
“There are so many Democrats who have shared privately that they are frustrated at the way the Governor is handling the state,” added Senator Melendez. “A few have said it publicly. The more we push this issue, the more likely constituents will call or write or email them and say ‘you need to vote on this bill, you need to take power back’. Then those legislators will have the courage to say that they want it to end.”
SCR 93 is currently not scheduled for a Senate Rules Committee Hearing or a floor vote. Senator Melendez has vowed that she will motion for a vote on SCR 93 everyday for the rest of the session.
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