I would like to comment on something that I believe is extremely important and critical to the well-being of our state.
A week ago, the House Republicans, including me, told the Governor that we will not entertain a bonding bill in the House until the Governor rescinds his emergency powers.
Why would we do this? Does it mean that we don’t want a bonding bill? Does it mean that we think the Governor has done a terrible job? Neither of these are true. What it does mean is that there are even more important and constitutionally relevant issues at hand for our state that must be addressed before we make any votes on a bonding bill.
We live in a democracy where we have three co-equal and separate branches of government. This is embedded in both our state and federal constitutions. Each branch of government has its own job. They are meant to be separate so that the branches balance each other’s power and authority.
Under governor declared emergency powers, the governor is the sole decision-maker for the state. Instead of having co-equal branches of government, all power rests in the executive branch. In times like this, the bi-partisan legislature (the House and the Senate) is left completely out of the process. There are times when emergency orders are necessary for a government to be able to make quick and nimble decisions.
In the beginning, at the onset of this pandemic emergency, I felt that that the Governor’s thirty day emergency order was appropriate. At that time, our state needed the ability to make swift decisions. It was a time when we did not know much about this virus and we had little data to understand what it would do. With the information he had at hand, I think the Governor made a number of good decisions.
We have now had almost sixty days of solely unilateral decision making – the governor has been the only decision maker for our state. We also now have a lot of hard data showing what this virus is doing and what it will most likely do in the future.
I believe that it is time to pivot from this emergency “governor only” decision-making process and start to take a more deliberative approach for decisions; it is time to have more eyes and more minds in this process. We will have better decisions for our state as a result.
What we are simply asking is that the bipartisan legislature, the voice of the people, have a place at the table with the Governor. We have asked the Governor multiple times to end his emergency powers and return our state to its constitutional roots of a healthy and balanced system of three co-equal branches of government. The Governor has not responded.
Regrettably, the Democrats in the House have blocked any legislative attempt to remove the emergency power declaration and return balanced power to a bipartisan legislature. Why would they choose to leave the Democrat controlled House and the Republican controlled Senate out of the picture? It leads me to question if this decision to leave all power in the hands of the Governor has a more partisan root, which makes me incredibly sad. I hope that is not the case.
The Governor’s sixty plus days of emergency powers are currently scheduled to expire this Wednesday. This is a perfect opportunity for the bipartisan legislature to return to its appropriate place at the table and our state will have a balanced government once again. Should the governor opt to let his powers expire and work with the legislature moving forward, there's no reason we can't work together to continue our response to this pandemic, pass a bonding bill, and tackle other issues before session adjourns on May 18.