Lawmakers Slam Governor’s Veto of Emergency Powers Accountability Act
Raleigh, NC – Today, with his state of emergency declaration now surpassing 600 days, Governor Cooper vetoed House Bill 264, the Emergency Powers Accountability Act, which seeks to strengthen and clarify current emergency management laws to restore checks and balances over the governor’s executive powers during an extended emergency.
“By vetoing this legislation, the governor is putting power and politics over our constitution and what is good for our state,” said Rep. Keith Kidwell (R-Beaufort), who the primary sponsor of House Bill 264. “The governor’s veto undermines our constitution, the balance of powers and the rule of law. It also further shows the dangers of when power is centralized in the hands of one person.”
Specifically, the legislation would require the governor to get concurrence from the Council of State, which consists of a bipartisan group of ten statewide elected executive offices established by the state constitution, for an emergency declaration lasting more than seven days – and legislative approval for it to extend beyond 45 days.
“The governor’s decision to veto this bill is purely about maintaining power and authority over the citizens and their elected representatives,” said House Majority Leader John Bell (R-Wayne), who is also a sponsor of the legislation. “It does not matter who is governor of North Carolina. Republican or Democrat. The governor was never intended to have such absolute authority, especially for an unlimited time.”
Governor Cooper has also still not responded to a June 8, 2021, letter from Representatives Bell and Kidwell requesting specific details on what “metrics and data” would need to be met for his continued state of emergency to come to an end. As neighboring governors from both parties have ended their emergency orders, lawmakers want Governor Cooper to be more transparent with the public.