California Democratic Legislators Refuse to End COVID State of Emergency Declaration

Written by Bobbie Wylie

Senator Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore) originally proposed SCR 5, a bill aiming to end Governor Gavin Newsom’s COVID-19 State of Emergency Declaration, which has continued for over two years.

SCR 5 was originally authored 9 months after the State of Emergency Declaration, and the State of Emergency continues to give Governor Newsom massive unilateral expansion of his executive powers, which allows him to enact major policies without knowledge or approval from elected legislators.

Senator Melendez has noted that it has taken almost two years for SCR 5 to be heard; the hearing took place Tuesday. 

The pandemic – and more importantly, pandemic-related policies – are coming to an end. Mask mandates are being lifted, even in schools. Businesses and schools are back open. COVID-19 cases are declining across the state. The state is no longer in crisis. Newsom has refused to end the State of Emergency, why won’t the state Legislature? The Legislature has the power to end the State of Emergency Declaration on their own with the passage of a concurrent resolution by both houses.

Senator Melendez says that SCR 5 is about restoring the balance of power in the State of California because currently, the Governor has too much unilateral control. On Tuesday, Melendez said Senators would “talk about how the numerous mandates will end; or the gravy train of state funding for various COVID response measures that may end with the lifting of the state of emergency,” continuing “But SCR 5 is not about those things.” Melendez shifted the focus to the goal of SCR 5, stating “Senators, this resolution is about really one thing – the balance of power. The balance between Executive power and Legislative power to be precise.”

SCR 5 failed to pass in the Senate by a vote of 4 to 8, with all Democrats voting against the bill. “I’m extremely disappointed my colleagues in the majority party lacked the courage to stand up to their Governor and bring this state of emergency to an end,” Sen. Melendez said after the hearing. “California has been under a state of emergency for more than 700 days. During that time, local governments have been responding and mitigating the spread of COVID based upon their local knowledge and infection rates. It’s time for the state to allow local governments to take the lead and address emergencies locally without the shotgun approach of a statewide emergency. Twenty-nine other states have ended their states of emergency. Once again, California is leading from behind.”

Photo Cred: Jay Calderon/ The Desert Sun