Senate Advances Legislation Reining in Governor’s Emergency Powers

Measure would require Council of State concurrence with emergency declaration within 7 days and legislative approval within 45 days

Today, the North Carolina Senate Judiciary Committee heard the latest version of a bill reining in Gov. Roy Cooper’s emergency powers.

The measure, House Bill 264, mirrors previous language passed by the Senate. It would require the Council of State to approve a governor’s emergency declaration within seven days. If the Council of State does not approve, then the emergency declaration expires, and the governor would not be able to issue an identical or substantially similar declaration.

The Council of State is a group of 10 statewide elected officers, including the Lt. Governor, Auditor, and Attorney General.

If the Council of State approves an emergency declaration, it may continue for up to 45 days without legislative authorization. For an emergency declaration to extend beyond 45 days, majorities in the Senate and House of Representatives must approve.

If the legislature does not vote to extend the declaration, then it expires after 45 days, and the governor would not be able to issue a substantially similar declaration for the same emergency.

House Bill 264 is similar to Senate Bill 346, which passed the Senate in April but has not received a House committee hearing.

Sen. Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick), who sponsored Senate Bill 346, said, “An emergency is a dangerous situation requiring immediate action. The legislature delegated some power to the executive to act in an emergency because the executive can act immediately. Eighteen months into this pandemic, nobody can argue with a straight face that it’s a time-limited ‘emergency’ where the General Assembly does not have time to act. The Governor needs to accept that this state must return to its normal system of government.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote to approve the bill on Wednesday.

The official Medium account for N.C. Senate Leader Phil Berger’s press office.