[Release from the Office of the NC House Majority Leader Rep. John Bell]
House Majority Leader John Bell (R-Wayne) and House Deputy Majority Whip Keith Kidwell (R-Beaufort) sent Governor Cooper a letter today calling on him to provide specific details on what “metrics and data” need to be met for his nearly fifteen months long state of emergency to come to an end.
Just yesterday, the South Carolina Governor announced an end to its COVID-19 state of emergency. The Virginia Governor also said recently that he will not extend its emergency declaration when it expires on June 30th.
“North Carolina has now been under a self-declared state of emergency for over 450 days,” the letter states. “In response to a question about ending your emergency order during a June 2nd press conference, you said, ‘We are still in the middle of this pandemic’ and ‘The State of Emergency needs to continue.’ We believe this is unsatisfactory.”
The letter continues, “There seems to be no urgency or plan to end the state of emergency. We believe this is unsatisfactory. The people of North Carolina have worked extremely hard to follow and adhere to social distancing guidelines and restrictions. They deserve more information and transparency in this process.”
Representatives Bell and Kidwell are primary sponsors of House Bill 264, “Emergency Powers Accountability Act,” which strengthens current law to require the Governor to seek the concurrence of the Council of State when issuing a state-wide declaration of emergency beyond thirty days. The legislation passed the House on March 31st with only Republicans in support.
“Clearly, there needs to be a discussion about the endless duration of power that is granted to the Governor during a self-declared state of emergency,” Leader Bell said when the bill passed. “This legislation is not about politics – it is about clarifying the law to restore accountability and ensure stronger bipartisan input. The Governor was never intended to have such absolute authority, especially for an unlimited time.”
For now, the lawmakers say the goal of their letter is to at least get “specific details on how and when the state of emergency can be lifted.”
The full letter can be found online here and below.
Dear Governor Cooper,
We are seeking additional information on your continued statewide state of emergency declaration and the specific metrics and data that will need to be met for it to come to an end.
North Carolina has now been under a self-declared state of emergency for over 450 days.
In response to a question about ending your emergency order during a June 2nd press conference, you said, “We are still in the middle of this pandemic” and “The State of Emergency needs to continue.”
This is deeply concerning. Vaccinations are widely available, cases are at new lows, and capacity restrictions have been completely lifted. Yet, we are in the “middle of this pandemic?” There seems to be no urgency or plan to end the state of emergency. We believe this is unsatisfactory.
Across the country, Governors are ending their state of emergencies, including the South Carolina Governor who just this week allowed its order to expire. Furthermore, the Virginia Governor recently said that he will not extend its declaration when it expires June 30th.
The people of North Carolina have worked extremely hard to follow and adhere to social distancing guidelines and restrictions. They deserve more information and transparency in this process.
We respectfully ask that you provide the legislature and the citizens of this great state with the specific details on how and when the state of emergency can be lifted.
Thank you for your time and attention to this important issue.
Rep. John R. Bell, IV
House Majority Leader
Rep. Keith Kidwell
House Deputy Majority Whip