N.C. House Passes Emergency Powers Bill, as Gov. Cooper’s State of Emergency Approaches 600 Days

Governor Cooper first issued a state of emergency for North Carolina on March 10, 2020 which had no expiration date. Today is the 589th day of that state of emergency. Currently, Governor Cooper has not announced when he plans to end the state of emergency. The Emergency Powers Act gives the executive branch powers to allow the Governor to move quickly during an emergency situation. The Governor is still using the threat of COVID-19 as justification for this gross overreach of executive authority, as his state of emergency proclamation approaches 600 days.

Today, the N.C. House passed HB 264: the Emergency Powers Accountability Act. This bill would require the Governor to seek concurrence of the Council of State to prolong emergency powers. Specifically, the legislation requires the Governor to get concurrence from the Council of State for an emergency declaration lasting more than seven days and legislative approval for it to extend beyond 45 days. The Council of State consists of a bipartisan group of ten statewide elected executive offices established by the state constitution.

While it is necessary for the executive branch to retain the power to act quickly in situations of emergency, those powers must not be permitted to be abused by an executive branch that does not want to relinquish them. The legislature expects that Governor Cooper will veto this bill.

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