PROVIDENCE – Last week, Gov. Daniel McKee issued a new executive order declaring a new state of emergency through Saturday, Sept. 18. Executive Order 21-86 Declaration of Disaster Emergency for New Covid-19 Variants was signed Thursday, Aug. 19.
Members of the Senate Republican caucus say they adamantly opposes declaring a new state of emergency, which the governor did to circumvent the legislature’s authority to represent their constituents.
Immediately after the new declaration was signed, Sen. Minority Whip Jessica de la Cruz, who represents District 23 in Burrillville, Glocester and North Smithfield, said, “I am calling on my colleagues in the General Assembly to immediately reconvene and terminate the latest COVID state of emergency by concurrent resolution as permitted by Rhode Island General Law § 30-15-9.”
The General Assembly terminated the prior emergency declaration effective September 1, and McKee himself said he was signing the new order to sidestep the legislative board. The governor did so after he authored approximately 64 amended orders to Gov. Gina Raimondo’s original emergency COVID-19 declaration – and its 100 plus amended orders – less than six months since he succeeded Raimondo.
“It is very appropriate that we passed civic literacy laws for our children this year,” said Sen. Gordon Rogers, who represents District 21 in Coventry, Foster and Scituate. “The first lesson is the legislature has sole constitutional authority to enact the laws and the executive branch enforces the laws enacted. Governor McKee is trying to do the legislature’s job – and our job is to represent our constituents.”
The senators say they echo the sentiment of many Rhode Islanders that it is time to stop this executive runaway train, and for the elected senators and representatives who talk to their constituents on a daily basis to decide whether to enact any new policies related to the pandemic.
In what the senators say was another display of executive overreach, McKee was adamant in the weeks leading up to the new school year that he would leave the issue of whether masking of children would be required to the local school boards and councils. The same day, he declared a new emergency, he signed Executive Order 21-87 Requiring Masks In Schools