Post Emergency Order Review Is Needed

Most people have heard that Governor Mills will allow her emergency order to expire after another two-week extension. The State of Civil Emergency has been in place for the last 15 months.

With that welcome news, the legislature should begin the process of reviewing the State’s response to COVID-19 and evaluate what worked and what did not.

This is Representative Will Tuell of East Machias with the Weekly Republican Radio Address. 

I am pleased that the State of Civil Emergency will finally be coming to an end; with every end comes a new beginning. As the Lead House Republican on the committee responsible for overseeing state and local government, we should begin the work of reviewing the state’s actions over the last 15 months. 

State government has operated in an unprecedented state of emergency. If a citizen legislature is to mean anything, it must properly review the state’s actions over the last year and a half. 

Unfortunately, this past week, Democrats voted to kill legislation that would have allowed such an audit to take place. 

LD 817, A Resolve to Establish the COVID-19 Review Commission, was defeated 77-68, with only a single Democrat voting for the review.

This proposed commission would have been fully bipartisan and charged with studying and collecting information about Maine’s response to COVID-19, including:

  1. State laws, rules and policies governing the State’s response, including executive orders;
  2. Contracts entered into related to executing the Governor’s emergency proclamation and related executive orders;
  3. Department of Health and Human Services, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention response, including testing and use of contact tracers;
  4. Policies and rules connected to COVID-19 implemented by state agencies;
  5. Federal, state and local intergovernmental coordination;
  6. Distribution of vaccines, including the use of public and private methods;
  7. Availability of medical equipment and supplies, including personal protective equipment;
  8. Interagency communication and information sharing;
  9. Scope of the Governor’s emergency powers, including review of emergency orders issued by the Governor, and accountability to other branches of government;
  10. Response of hospitals, nursing homes and other congregate settings;
  11. Economic relief policies;
  12. Overall health and economic impact on communities, including racial and ethnic minority populations, of COVID-19 infections and deaths and the state mitigation response;
  13. State and local government preparedness and response to executive orders related to the declared COVID-19 emergency;
  14. The preparedness and response of the federally recognized Indian tribes, nations and bands located within the State to the declared COVID-19 emergency; and
  15. Other matters related to the COVID-19 response as determined by the commission.

All of this to be reported back to the Joint Standing Committee on State and Local Government.

This is not about partisanship and political gamesmanship. 

This is about the future, understanding what worked well, what did not, and what could be done differently in the future.

Mainers forced to live in a State of Civil Emergency for a year and a half deserve a thorough, thoughtful review by their elected officials.

The partisan line preventing this review must be removed and both parties must work together going forward.

That is why the legislature should reconsider LD 817, and pass it, so that we can begin the work of overseeing Maine’s COVID response to identify any future changes that need to be made. 

The emergency may be drawing to a close, but the work of understanding what happened over the last 15 months, and what to do about it going forward, is just beginning.  

My Democrat colleagues in the House should join us in bringing back the legislation they voted down so that we can get to work for the people of Maine.

This has been Representative Will Tuell with the Republican Weekly Radio Address.

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