Newberry, Place sponsor bill to end governor’s emergency powers

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PROVIDENCE – House Republicans, including two from northern Rhode Island, have submitted a Joint House and Senate Resolution to enforce the 180-day limit on the Governor’s Executive Powers.

In July 2021, the General Assembly amended Rhode Island General Law to limit many of the governor’s core emergency powers to 180-days, dictating that the limit could be extended by General Assembly. On Aug. 14, 2021, Gov. Dan McKee declared a “new” COVID-19 state of emergency, rather than approach the legislative body for an extension beyond the 180-limit.

The legislators note that the action effectively skirted the law and began a new 180-day period without the required approval.

“Governor McKee continues to evade the General Assembly’s required authorization and oversight with illegal continuation Emergency Executive Powers,” said bill sponsor Rep. David Place of District 47 in Burrillville and Glocester. “It is time for our General Assembly to step up to do our job –to either hold the governor accountable, or endorse his actions, as required by law.”

“’Emergency powers,’ were designed for precisely that – emergencies, meaning natural disasters, storms, war etc.,” said Rep. Brian Newberry of District 48 in North Smithfield and Burrillville. “The point of emergency powers is to enable one person to act decisively because the normal legislative deliberative process is too slow for the moment.”

Newberry said it is absurd that Rhode Island is almost two years into an, “emergency,” while in most walks of life, things are operating normally. 

“We held an election and swore in a new General Assembly over a year ago. We meet regularly and routinely,” Newberry said. “That we are still operating under “emergency powers” is frankly ridiculous and it is time for all 113 members of the House and Senate to stop hiding behind the governor and the bureaucrats and let the public know where they stand on this.”

The northern Rhode Island legislators join four other House Republican in sponsoring the bill, found here. It calls for all emergency powers to terminate on Friday, Feb. 18. The legislation was introduced Wednesday and referred to the House Committee on Government and Elections.

“The Rule of Law is our country’s great stabilizer. It does not bend to exigency or fear,” said Minority Leader Blake Filippi, who also sponsored the bill. “History teaches that when there is a fervor to abandon the rule of law, such as now, it is precisely when we must defend it most – and that is what this legislation does.”

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