Bill aims to limit Alabama governor’s authority to extend a state of emergency

Alabama

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A year ago this month Governor Kay Ivey issued a state of emergency in Alabama to fight the spread of COVID-19.

That emergency order has been extended multiple times and remains in effect today. It’s just been altered, amended, but most importantly – extended since March 2020.

In one version, she enacted a stay-at-home order, temporarily closing many businesses. In a July extension, a statewide mask mandate was issued. It was something health officials applauded even as other elected officials like, Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth, opposed it.

Some lawmakers want to take the power to extend states of emergency away from the governor and give it to the Legislature. A bill in the Senate would limit that power to extend states of emergency.
Currently, a state of emergency can be extended every 60 days by the governor or by a joint resolution by the Legislature.

“When our current emergency act legislation was passed, I don’t think it was ever contemplated that the governor would have the ability to basically keep the state in a state of emergency for over a year without any outside influence or check,” said Senator Arthur Orr, (R) District 3. Orr is a cosponsor of SB97.

The bill that would automatically terminate a state of emergency after 14 days unless extended by a joint resolution of the Legislature.

“I don’t suggest there has been any abuse of what’s gone on so far, but certainly there needs to be more collaboration in the years ahead,” Orr said.

News 19 reached out to Governor Ivey for comment. Her spokesperson says the governor believes the legislation is coming from a good place and released the following statement:

Governor Ivey wants the Legislature to convene a group to conduct a thorough review of emergency handling so that any changes made can be made to best benefit the people of our state. The governor has spoken to the pro tem and speaker on this idea, and they were receptive so that we can ensure this is being done in a thoughtful manner.

Gina Maiola, Press Secretary

The bill has been called over to the call of the chair. Senator Orr tells News 19 it won’t come up again until after the session’s break next week.

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