In times of war, disease, or other extraordinary conditions, every state authorizes its Governor to declare a state of emergency. Once an emergency has been declared, special executive powers are granted to the Governor until the emergency ends.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the chapter of Minnesota law that governs these emergency powers – Chapter 12 – was put to the test. We have experienced over a year of unchecked, absolute power by our Governor. The power granted to the Governor through Chapter 12 completely usurps the power of the legislature, resulting in one-man rule.
Today, the Never Again Bill was introduced. This bill asserts a bill of rights and a declaration of responsibilities of the citizen in an emergency. It also distinguishes between temporary emergencies such as floods and tornados and public health emergencies that may go on for much longer.
In a general emergency, the Never Again Bill allows the Governor to have five days to deploy the National Guard and move resources to respond. He has no power to fine or jail people, and there is no more executive council rubber stamp. He does not have the ability to write law. His executive orders expire if they are not put into law by the legislature within five days. The emergency ends if the legislature does not renew it. The Governor cannot call another emergency for the same or similar crisis.
The Never Again Bill also defines a public health emergency and points to the laws in Chapter 144 as the appropriate way to deal with them. Chapter 144 gives the Department of Health specific powers to eradicate diseases. It contains the means for individuals to assert their rights, have privacy, and choose if they wish to quarantine or be vaccinated.
If we were to end the peacetime emergency today, the Governor would still have the power to call another emergency tomorrow, starting the process all over again. This is why we need to pass Chapter 12 reform. We need to guarantee that this is never able to happen again. #NeverAgain
You can read HF28, the Never Again Bill HERE.