Written by T. Logan Dayne
California’s Gavin Newsom will be extending the emergency powers in what will be a power grab lasting two years and with little doubt that it will end there. In March of 2020, California enacted emergency powers, allowing the executive office to bypass certain legislative procedures and unilaterally affect over 400 laws and regulations. COVID was just emerging and it was an emergency after all.
What has ever gone wrong giving politicians such power during an emergency? One of the main purposes of the emergency power proclamation put out in March was “to prepare and respond to suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases, to implement measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and to prepare to respond to an increasing number of individuals requiring medical care and hospitalization,” but all this was before there was time to prepare and before the emergence of a vaccine. It was known even during this announcement that the virus had a disproportionate impact on the elderly. This begs the question, if there is adequate medical supply, adequate mitigation, and a vaccine, why does the emergency powers persist? In Newsom’s own words it is because, “The disease has not been extinguished.”
As long as COVID-19 is here to stay, so too are Newsom’s emergency powers. As the governor moves these goal posts, many constituents are noticing and growing more impatient. A panel of medical professionals recently released a petition wherein they ask to have set specific standards on when these powers can be dropped. They cite that although the vaccine has been approved for 5-11 year old’s, students are still required to wear masks and still remain more restricted than many other states and organizations, It is noted that there was no correlation with schools reopening and any surges and that there is no clear metric on an acceptable hospitalization or vaccination rate as to when these restrictions can be done away with. Some districts in Northern California have been catching onto this pattern and have voted directly against Newsom’s edicts choosing not to comply, the city of Oroville has even gone as far as to declare itself a “Constitutional Republic” after continually not being represented in a government based on representation. While defiance becomes the norm, the governor’s office has stated that the emergency powers will remain in effect so long “as the pandemic persists.”
Photo Cred: AP Photo/Eric Risberg