Rule of Law: General Assembly Passes Bill to Ensure Governor Actually Follows NC Emergency Management Act When Issuing EOs

RALEIGH – The N.C. General Assembly passed a bill last week that would reinforce requirements within the NC Emergency Act that the governor seek and get the concurrence of the Council of State before issuing executive orders during a declared state of emergency. The Lieutenant Governor felt compelled to sue the governor because Cooper has routinely ignored this provision of the law in issuing his ruinous edicts, asking a judge to invalidate them.

But, as the General Assembly confirms with this bill, it is the legislature that has the true authority to rein in the reign of King Cooper. The N.C. House Majority Leader, Rep. John Bell (R-Wayne) had this to say about the bill:

“The General Assembly approved a bill last week to rein in the Governor’s unilateral and absolute powers in a statewide emergency. In March, the Governor failed to get approval from the Council of State to close North Carolina’s economy, so he ignored them and claimed to use alternative authority.

This legislation (which I have no doubt he will veto) would make it clear the Governor must get bipartisan buy-in from the Council of State before closing businesses or exercising other emergency lock downs. Governor Cooper has shut down businesses, closed schools, and severely limited the lives of North Carolinians through his executive orders.

Yet, he has made these decisions without the requirement to even consult with any other elected official. This needs to change – regardless of who is in power.”

Speaker of the N.C. House Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) released the following with respect to the legislation:

“Governor Cooper continues to enact scattershot executive orders without any regard for checks and balances. If Governor Cooper vetoes this bill, it is clear he prioritizes his own power over developing bipartisan solutions to help the people of North Carolina.”

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The Council of State isn’t just some perfunctory body; it consists of all the statewide elected officials in North Carolina. There are  10 executive offices established by the N.C. Constitution – the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Auditor, Treasurer, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Attorney General, Commissioner of Agriculture, Commissioner of Labor, and Commissioner of Insurance. That means that, as a bipartisan Council, they are far more representative of North Carolinians and their interests than the mere governor on his own.

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The representative advantages of this body were demonstrated when a majority voted to NOT concur with Cooper’s rash decisions to shutdown our economy and ruin livelihoods. The body served to balance the fears of public health disruptions with the rights and livelihoods of North Carolina citizens, but Cooper ignored this and set about ruling unilaterally.

While it would have been useful to pass such legislation at the beginning of the legislative session, to put pressure on Governor Cooper to follow the law when it was most needed, but it is a welcome sight nonetheless.

Now, if only the General Assembly can modify the N.C. Emergency Management Act to prevent, not just a governor’s unilateral overreach, but in fact prohibit any body from implementing orders that Rep. Destin Hall (R- Caldwell) described as “unprecedented restrictions placed on [North Carolinians’] families and businesses”

Governor Roy Cooper should be held accountable for his overreach. But make no mistake, the whole of state government should be similarly held accountable to our founding principles of individual liberty and rights. ‘Unprecedented restrictions’ on North Carolinians freedoms are unwarranted and egregious whether they enjoy bipartisan support or not.

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