Lawmakers discussed a bill on Monday that would curb the governor’s ability to declare a state of emergency. Gov. Doug Burgum has issued dozens of pandemic-related executive orders over the past several months.
House Bill 1118 would limit a public health-related emergency declaration — like the current pandemic — to 60 days, with the possibility of an extension request by the governor. If lawmakers were to deny that request, the state of disaster or emergency would be considered over by day 60.
After that, barring an approved extension by legislators, the governor couldn’t declare another state of disaster or emergency for the same conditions. Rep. Bill Devlin sponsored the bill and spoke at the hearing.
“We allowed the governor to make this emergency declaration through a change in the law in 1985. At that time there was a 30-day limit on emergency declarations with the governor having the authority to extend it. I sincerely doubt quite honestly that when that change was made in 1985 that anyone thought one of these would go for months and months and months on end,” Devlin said.
Currently, a public health emergency order lasts until the governor rescinds it. The bill also includes an emergency clause that means it would take effect immediately if passed.