Senate Passes Bill Reining in Governor’s Emergency Powers

Measure would require Council of State concurrence for emergency declaration to go beyond 7 days and legislative approval to extend beyond 45 days

Raleigh, N.C. — Today, the North Carolina Senate passed a bill reining in Gov. Roy Cooper’s emergency powers.

No Democrat voted for the bill.

The measure, House Bill 264, would require the Council of State to approve a governor’s emergency declaration to allow it to last more than 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 bipartisan 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, “In times of emergencies, there needs to be quick action and the General Assembly doesn’t have time to meet and change policy. That’s why decades ago the legislature delegated some power to the Governor. However, it’s clear that after 18 months of unilateral decision-making, that authority needs additional checks and balances.”

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for a concurrence vote.

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