RALEIGH – Under the N.C. Emergency Management Act, at least one reading of it, the Governor of North Carolina is granted unilateral authority to declare emergencies, and subsequently micromanage citizens’ lives. Closing restaurants, setting curfews, statewide mask mandates, telling churches they can’t hold service, and, of course, closing schools; all decisions made by one man, unchecked, in the last year.
It makes the motto ‘First in Freedom’ ring a bit hollow, doesn’t it?
That could be about to change with a series of ‘Better Late than Never’ local bills to rein in Governor Roy Cooper emergency powers under the Act.
For instance, House Bill 166, filed by Rep. David Rogers (R-Rutherford), stipulates that no emergency orders will apply to Rutherford or Polk Counties without the concurrence of the Council of State.
That concurrence provision of the Act was the subject of an earlier lawsuit challenging the governor’s authority, but contradictory provisions in the law provided enough cover for Cooper to remain dictatorial in the eyes of the courts.
Yet, these local bills would change the law itself, and, as the Carolina Journal‘s Andrew Dunn notes, they do not require the governor’s signature to become law. More than that, though, indications are that statewide legislation to further limit the governor’s expansive authority could be in the offing. According to Dunn:
“[…] a spokesman for Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, implied that a statewide bill to revisit the act could be in the works.
“Reining in the governor’s emergency powers is a priority for this session,” Pat Ryan told Carolina Journal. “One person, whether it be the governor or any other political leader, should not have unilateral power to shut down the entire state with no checks or balances.”
House leaders are also planning to address the issue, as well. A spokesman for House Speaker Tim Moore said the House would likely reconsider last session’s Senate Bill 105, which would require concurrence of the Council of State for the governor to use most of his emergency powers. The bill was passed by the General Assembly but vetoed by Cooper. […]”
At the very least, such a legislative challenge will shed more light on how ridiculous it is that one man is empowered with the authority to issue unchecked diktats, that clearly infringe on freedoms, for over a year.
However, any normal bill will face the typical threat of veto. As we’ve just learned again with the school reopening bill, convincing enough Democrats to reject fealty to Cooper in overriding those vetoes is quite difficult.
(Again, the local bills can become law without Cooper, and Dunn outlines more of them here.)
And leading lawmakers certainly know this. So, after the governor’s latest veto of kids returning to school was sustained, could there be even more in the works on Jones Street to reclaim the People’s power over their own lives from King Cooper?
In response to that very question, a leading lawmaker in the N.C. House told First in Freedom Daily, “Stay tuned. More to come.”
Let’s hope so. North Carolinians deserve a reprieve from the rein of King Cooper.