In an effort to restore legislative authority, a local legislator is seeking to end Gov. Gavin Newsom’s emergency powers.
Republican Assemblymen James Gallagher, Yuba City, and Kevin Kiley, Rocklin, introduced a resolution Monday to end Newsom’s emergency powers under executive order.
Gallagher said he sees the resolution as a necessary step to reign in the governor’s authority, which has increased with the declaration of a statewide emergency during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There is really simply no further reason not to restore our constitutional government as we know it,” Gallagher said. “Rule making and law making should be deliberative, it shouldn’t just be up to one person.”
Under the California Emergency Services Act, the Legislature has the authority to end the governor’s emergency powers. The assemblymen seek to terminate Newsom’s emergency powers, which have been in place since declaring a state emergency on March 4.
“I think the initial stay-at-home order was what was needed,” Gallagher said. “I gave him (Newsom) a lot of credit in the way that he was working with the federal government and being very cooperative and trying to deal with the pending emergency, which everyone saw as the potential to spike the surge.”
While Gallagher said the strategies worked to help the state “flatten the curve,” he’s concerned about the continued emergency powers as executive overreach. He said there have been “well-documented” examples of Newsom’s abuse of power such as the executive order mandating vote by mail.
“He (Newsom) does not have the ability to change state law and yet he has completely changed our law by executive order by changing to vote by mail,” Gallagher said. “It is impermissible for him to use executive order to do so under the emergency act.”
He also expressed concern regarding coronavirus reopening strategies, noting that through the attestation process, Yuba and Sutter counties can work with the local health officer to move through their own reopening plans.
“Why do we continue to let the governor act unilaterally when the county health officers are perfectly capable of making decisions,” Gallagher said.
Through a statement to the Appeal-Democrat, a representative for the governor’s office said the state is flattening the curve and modifications are being made to the stay-at-home order.
“Further modifications will continue to be guided by science and data -- and driven by our public health experts,” said Jesse Melgar, press secretary for the governor.
State Sen. Jim Nielsen, Republican, Red Bluff, said he would support the proposal if it came up in the Legislature, because he said the emergency declaration cannot last forever.
“These are inseparably linked, how we are in our health with how we are with our economy,” Nielsen said. “It is really important in circumstances of this magnitude that the Legislature be intimately involved and not ignored.”
Gallagher said he will be working with his colleagues to get the proposal to a committee hearing in the near future.