R.I. House Republicans Submit Legislation
for General Assembly Accountability
Legislation calls for Representatives and Senators to take a stand
on Governor’s Abuse of Emergency Powers
State House, Providence, RI – House Republicans have submitted a Joint House and Senate Resolution to enforce the 180-day limit on the Governor’s Executive Powers. In July, 2021, the General Assembly amended our General Laws, § 30-15-9(g), to limit many of the Governor’s core emergency powers to 180-days only. The 180-day limit may be extended by General Assembly. Rather than follow the law and approach the General Assembly to extend his Emergency powers beyond the 180-limit, on August 14, 2021, Governor McKee sought to skirt the law by declaring a “new” COVID state of emergency – ostensibly to provide himself with a new 180-day period without the required General Assembly approval.
“Governor McKee continues to evade the General Assembly’s required authorization and oversight with illegal continuation Emergency Executive Powers. It is time for our General Assembly to step up to do our job --to either hold the Governor accountable, or endorse his actions, as required by law,” said bill sponsor Representative David Place.
”In putting forth this legislation, the members of the General Assembly, through their up or down vote, will finally be on the record. We are asking them to acknowledge that the law we passed in 2021 means something,” said Representative Sherry Roberts.
Added Representative Robert Quattrocchi, “The legislature was designed to be the check and balance on our Executive Branch. By not convening the General Assembly to address the abuse of the clear law we passed, we allow great harm to our Republican form of government.”
“We owe it to Rhode Island citizens, who elected us to represent them and their interests, to uphold the laws that we pass. What kind of an example do we provide when government does not follow or enforce the laws we create?” stated Representative George Nardone.
“We call on our colleagues to go on the record regarding the Governor’s willful disregard of this law we passed last summer to continue to impose harmful mandates on our residents and businesses,” said Whip Michael Chippendale.
“The lack of government oversight and transparency for two years, normally provided by the legislative branch, fosters a level of mistrust with our constituents,” said Representative Justin Price. “We also weakened the power of “emergency” mandates by extending them well beyond the crisis.”
“Emergency powers” were designed for precisely that – emergencies, meaning natural disasters, storms, war etc.,” said Representative Brian C. Newberry. “The point of emergency powers is to enable one person to act decisively because the normal legislative deliberative process is too slow for the moment. It is absurd that we are almost two years into an “emergency” while in most walks of life, things are operating normally. We held an election and swore in a new General Assembly over a year ago. We meet regularly and routinely. That we are still operating under “emergency powers” is frankly ridiculous and it is time for all 113 members of the House and Senate to stop hiding behind the Governor and the bureaucrats and let the public know where they stand on this.”
Minority Leader Blake A. Filippi concluded: “The Rule of Law is our Country’s great stabilizer. It does not bend to exigency or fear. History teaches that when there is a fervor to abandon the rule of law, such as now, it is precisely when we must defend it most – and that is what this legislation does.”
H 7217 text link: http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText22/HouseText22/H7217.pdf