This week in the Health and Human Services Committee, we discussed a bill to allow the Governor to declare a peacetime state of emergency in response to public health emergencies like COVID-19 (Coronavirus). By adding "Public Health Emergency" to the types of "peacetime state of emergencies," the Governor would get broader power to do things like call out the national guard or ban public gatherings.
Today the Governor had a press conference declaring a "peacetime state of emergency," but stopped short of giving any orders to close schools or government. He simply asked people to engage in preventive precautions. Gatherings over 250 people are discouraged by the Health Department, and smaller ones should be able to allow people to be 6 feet away from each other.
Next week, I will be watching the legislature's attempts at putting together emergency bills. I want to make sure that they actually help the situation and don't just expand the Governor's power permanently, trample on civil rights, or throw money at problems with no accountability.