Time for Legislature to Rein Gov. Sisolak In

by Annie Black
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(Annie Black) – As Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak has issued one “emergency” shutdown order after another, torching the state’s economy and civil liberties in the process, the Nevada Legislature – 63 individuals elected to represent “the people” in Carson City – has stood on the sidewalk and watched it burn.

And with his unilateral decision this week to extend Phase II of the #SisolakShutdown through the end of July, the governor will have wielded unlimited authoritarian “emergency” powers for four and a half MONTHS.

With no end in sight.

This is downright dangerous.  We elected a governor, not a king.

Way back on March 21, just four days after the #SisolakShutdown was unilaterally ordered, I wrote in an AnnieGram…

“We’re in an emergency situation.  The governor needs counsel.  And he needs to hear from voices outside his inner circle.  Especially legislators who are closer to their constituents on the ground and better able understand the impact of these decisions.  It’s time for the governor to call a special session.”

Of course, he didn’t.  As Mel Brooks put it, “It’s good ta be da king.”

During our campaign for Assembly District 19, I published “Black’s Blueprint: 7 Steps for Rebuilding Nevada.”  It included…

1.)  EMERGENCY POWERS LIMITATION ACT

It’s one thing to give the governor the power to declare a short-term emergency.  It’s another thing to give him an indefinite blank check – like what we’ve experienced during the COVID-19 shutdown.

The Legislature needs to pass a bill that limits the scope and length of time any governor can wield “emergency powers” – including the suspension of constitutional rights – without seeking the approval of the elected members of the Legislature.

A 30-day limit seems reasonable.  We should never again be in a position where one person has unilateralunrestrainedindefinite authoritarian control over our lives and livelihoods.

Echoing that call, Michael Schaus of Nevada Policy Research Institute wrote yesterday…

“Such a concentration of power in any governor should inspire reform of the state’s approach to emergency powers, regardless of how one might feel about shutting down businesses to fight a pandemic or infringing on civil rights in the name of the ‘common good.’”

Mr. Schaus added…

“As Nevada continued experimenting with government-by-executive-order, businesses were forced into bankruptcy, workers into breadlines, and students into limbo. Like many governors across the nation, Gov. Sisolak took it upon himself to experiment in quarantining an entire state’s population as a way to ‘flatten the curve’ and slow the spread of the novel coronavirus without so much as a single vote from the lawmakers elected to represent the very people having their lives turned upside down.

“Allowing any governor to act unilaterally on issues that so directly impact workers, business owners and students – for months on end without clearly defined objectives – is a scenario that is simply unconscionable in a democratic republic. Responding to emergencies doesn’t require abandoning the principles of democratic self-government.”

It was one thing to grant the governor “emergency” powers for 15 days, or even 30 days, without consultation with, let alone concurrence from, the elected members of the Legislature.

But four and a half MONTHS?

With a special session finally scheduled for next week to address the $1.3 billion budget hole created by the #SisolakShutdown, a discussion of some version of the “Emergency Powers Limitation Act” should be added to the agenda.

As Lord Acton warned: “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

It’s time to rein Gov. Sisolak in.

If elected legislators won’t do it, why even have a Legislature?

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Either masks work or they don’t. If you’re going to compel mask use, then open everything up. Otherwise this isn’t public health but tyranny. If the mask is the antidote here, then give us our life back.” – Steve Deace

Annie Black is a Mesquite City Councilwoman and Assemblywoman-elect for Nevada State Assembly District 19.  You can get more information by visiting www.electannieblack.com 

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