May 27, 2020
The Legislature has authority to terminate the Gov. Newsom’s emergency powers
Under California’s state-of-emergency rules, on March 4, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Gavin Newsom was the first governor to declare a state of emergency, elevating him to complete autocratic control. Since then, Governor Newsom has issued 39 Executive Orders, unilaterally changing 200 laws spanning most sections of the California code,” Assemblymen Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin) and James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) informed us last week. “This includes creating new voting laws for an election six months away and overhauling Workers’ Compensation rules.”
The Legislature recessed and left town, leaving Californians with Gov. Newsom and his newly found powers.
The governor’s emergency powers were only supposed to last for two months. Knowing this, the Legislature agreed and authorized $1 billion for Newsom to use during the emergency for issues relating to the coronavirus. Then the Legislature recessed and left town, leaving Californians with Newsom and his newly found powers.
In doing so, the Legislature also abdicated any balance of power.
Across the country, Americans are watching in horror as blue-state Democrat governors are abusing these “temporary” emergency powers: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, and California Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Newsom appears to be leading these tyrants with his ongoing lockdown orders, killing off small businesses, issuing citations to salon owners, beach goers, bar owners and protestors. He even threatened to withhold some of the $47 million in federal CARES Act funds from Tulare County hours after the Tulare County Board of Supervisors voted to open the county up for business.
After scolding Southern California beachgoers who were desperate to escape the heat in late April, Newsom threatened to keep the state closed much longer.
And now, Newsom is threatening to cut first responders if California doesn’t receive a federal government bailout, while he hands out $75 million in taxpayer-funded assistance to illegal immigrants, who don’t qualify for federal coronavirus relief… because they are in the country illegally.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who extended the county lockdown through the end of July, even announced that beachgoers were only allowed to be on the wet sand – no beach volleyball or sunbathing. And he’s using law enforcement to make sure that visitors obey his orders.
Looking ahead at a time when the lockdown orders are no longer in play, what will the country look like? Will these Democrat governors willingly relinquish their “temporary” powers? And what will California look like with so many businesses closed, perhaps forever?
Knowing Gov. Newsom’s history of autocracy when he was San Francisco Mayor, will he be content to hand back the emergency powers he has so abused?
What autocrat or tyrant has ever willingly given back powers? Instead, they usually expand their powers and sphere of influence by expanding the state bureaucracy, and intimidating dissenters.
Ludwig von Mises explains this in his book, Bureaucracy:
…bureaucracy is imbued with an implacable hatred of private business and free enterprise. But the supporters of the system consider precisely this the most laudable feature of their attitude. Far from being ashamed of their anti-business policies, they are proud of them. They aim at full control of business by the government and see in every businessman who wants to evade this control a public enemy.
Californians meanwhile, are rebelling in many different ways – opening their businesses in defiance of the governor’s ridiculous orders; protesting at the State Capitol, city halls, and beaches; congregating in churches, traveling to second homes and cabins, and going to counties already re-opened. And they are taking this risk knowing they may be cited or arrested.
Veteran California journalist Dan Walters pondered this as well: “The state law allowing Newsom to declare an emergency says he ‘shall proclaim the termination of a state of emergency at the earliest possible date that conditions warrant,’ but also allows the Legislature to end it ‘by concurrent resolution,’” Walters wrote.
As California Globe reported last week, two California lawmakers aren’t waiting for a California judge to strike down Gov. Gavin Newsom’s lockdown orders. Under Section 8629 of the California Emergency Services Act, the Legislature has authority to terminate the Governor’s emergency powers. Assembly members Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin) and James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) are introducing an Assembly Concurrent Resolution to exercise this statutory prerogative.
A “State of Emergency” in California is a legal term describing not merely conditions of extreme peril, but also the inadequacy of state and local institutions to combat the threat within the constraints of the State Constitution, Kiley and Gallagher wrote.
The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst, in a report last Sunday on the Governor’s May budget Revision, said he was “very troubled” by the authority the Governor seeks to take away from the Legislature, we reported. He concludes: “we urge the Legislature to jealously guard its constitutional role and authority.”
“This Resolution is meant to restore a proper balance between the legislative and executive branches,” said Assemblyman Kiley. “To the extent the Governor retains extraordinary powers, they should be limited in scope in coordination with the Legislature, which has authority to terminate those powers altogether.”
Dan Walters notes, “Its passage would be analogous to a no-confidence vote in the parliamentary system we now seem to have adopted, as least temporarily.”
Following Newsom’s April 14 Tweet, “SCIENCE — not politics — must be California’s guide” in its economic recovery, more than 150 California economists and professors sent the Governor an open letter calling on him to suspend AB 5 and re-open the economy.
Newsom’s reluctance to fully re-open the state has more to do with maintaining his ongoing emergency powers than health concerns. Newsom, who claimed he was basing his decisions on science, stubbornly refuses to even acknowledge the Stanford and USC studies published recently which show that the death rate from the virus is likely to be as low as 0.18% of COVID-19 patients.
27 different California counties have either bucked Newsom’s orders due to few or no coronavirus deaths, re-opened, or asked the governor to allow them to re-open.
The next issue to address is California’s city and county autocrats trying to hold on to their fleeting powers.
Katy Grimes, the Editor of the California Globe, is a long-time Investigative Journalist covering the California State Capitol, and the co-author of California’s War Against Donald Trump: Who Wins? Who Loses?