Proposal to limit Executive Emergency Powers

Legislation would amend decades old statute

REMOTELY/FROM HOME – House Republican Leader Kathleen Dillingham (R-Oxford) has submitted legislation seeking to change a decades old law, last amended in 2011, granting the Executive broad emergency powers and proposes legislative approval of emergency order extensions.

Consideration of the proposed legislation would require the legislature to reconvene. Thus far, the Governor and Presiding Officers have resisted calls to return to Augusta to consider any pieces of legislation citing the Governor’s order limiting gatherings of more than ten individuals as well as concerns due to the virus. 

“This is an attempt to bring forth a piece of legislation that can receive bipartisan support in order to address a situation no one could have foreseen when the statute was last amended,” said House Republican Leader Kathleen Dillingham.

“I don’t believe then, or when the Legislature adjourned in March, any member ever expected they would be abdicating their role in government to the Executive. 

It is imperative that we reconvene to amend this statute and once again establish the checks and balances that are needed and expected in our representative form of government.

People’s lives are being heavily impacted, and their elected representatives have virtually no input. The legislation proposed would ensure that future decisions are bipartisan and respect the integrity of co-equal branches of government.”

A growing chorus of Mainers, including legislative Republicans, have succeeded in getting the Governor to make incremental progress in safely reopening some parts of the economy before the summer season.

Unfortunately, the majority of these decisions continue to be made unilaterally and arbitrarily.  It would be beneficial if the administration would share the science-based data being used to determine which businesses can open as well as how the guidelines are developed.

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TEXT OF PROPOSED LEGISLATION:

An Act To Amend the Governor’s Emergency Powers

Title 37-B: DEFENSE, VETERANS AND EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT

Chapter 13: MAINE EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY

Subchapter 2: STATE EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT PROVISIONS

§743. Termination of emergency

2.  Limitation.  Any state of emergency may not be issued for a period of time longer than 30 days.  Any subsequent renewals of the same state of emergency must receive approval from 2/3 of the membership of the Legislature.  If rejected by the Legislature, the Governor shall issue an executive proclamation ending the state of emergency within 24 hours.  A new state of emergency may not be declared for at least 30 days without approval by the Legislature. The Legislature, by joint resolution, may terminate a state of emergency at any time. Thereupon, the Governor shall issue an executive proclamation ending the state of emergency.  

§742. Emergency proclamation

(6) Direct and compel the evacuation all or part of the population from any stricken or threatened area within the State, if the Governor determines this action necessary for the preservation of life or other disaster mitigation, response, or recovery. This action must be applied to the smallest political subdivision possible.  For state wide application the Governor must have approval of a majority from Legislative Council;

(8) Control ingress and egress from a disaster area, the movement of persons within the area and occupancy of premises therein. Occupancy limitations which would have a substantial impact on the operation of businesses in the State of Maine must be approved by a majority form Legislative Council;

(9) Suspend or limit the sale, dispersing, or transportation of alcoholic beverages, explosives and combustibles;

(12) Take whatever action is necessary to abate, clean up or mitigate whatever danger may exist within the affected area. Any action which would directly result in the temporary or permanent closure of any businesses, or civic or religious organization must be approved by 2/3 of the membership of the Legislative Council.

Add to “1. Emergency Proclamation”, after “C”:

In dealing with a declared civil emergency, the following powers granted by this chapter may not be invoked:

(1) The eminent domain powers granted in section 821; and  

(2) The enforcement powers granted in sections 786, unless the Governor specifically invokes these powers by an order issued pursuant to a civil emergency proclamation and approved by 2/3 of the membership of the Legislative Council. That order must specify those emergency orders or rules that are enforceable pursuant to this paragraph and must further specify the enforcement activities emergency management organizations are to pursue. No enforcement action may be taken pursuant to this paragraph without publication of the order authorizing the action in a manner reasonably calculated to give affected persons adequate notice of the order or rule to be enforced, which may include publication on the Internet, and the sanctions to be applied.

2. Energy Emergency Proclamation

C. In dealing with a declared energy emergency, the following powers granted by this chapter may not be invoked:  

(1) The eminent domain powers granted in section 821; and  

(2) The enforcement powers granted in sections 786 and 829, unless the Governor specifically invokes these powers by an order issued pursuant to an energy emergency proclamation and approved by a majority 2/3 of the membership of the Legislative Council. That order must specify those emergency orders or rules that are enforceable pursuant to this paragraph and must further specify the enforcement activities emergency management organizations are to pursue. No enforcement action may be taken pursuant to this paragraph without publication of the order authorizing the action in a manner reasonably calculated to give affected persons adequate notice of the order or rule to be enforced, which may include publication on the Internet, and the sanctions to be applied.   [PL 2001, c. 353, §5 (AMD).]

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