Since last spring, many governors have used the pandemic to assume emergency powers, giving them wide-ranging authority to, among other things, shut down businesses, close schools, and enforce stay-at-home orders.
Unfortunately, many abused this authority, wielding unilateral powers while dismissing the checks and balances of state government. Throughout the United States, excessive lockdowns resulted, harming local economies and individual livelihoods. We’re only now beginning to understand the costs of these restrictions on jobs, mental health, education, and civil liberties.
But state legislatures are moving against governors’ arbitrary decision-making. The pushback, dating to last summer, has gathered increasing momentum as the rationale for lockdowns subsided. Just this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 45 states have proposed more than 300 measures to limit governors’ executive authority. A bipartisan consensus has emerged among lawmakers to check excessive gubernatorial emergency powers.