Legislature Votes to Limit Governor’s Health Emergency Powers
Last night members of the Louisiana Legislature narrowly passed a measure that would allow the state's lawmakers to curtail key parts of Governor John Bel Edwards' restrictive authority during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The vote which was basically along party lines narrowly passed. In fact, the House passed the measure 54-30. That was one more vote than the minimum needed to pass the legislation. Earlier in the day, the Senate endorsed the measure by a vote of 23-13.
What happens next? Well, the measure now goes to Governor John Bel Edwards for his signature. I wouldn't hold my breath while waiting for that to happen because the Governor has already gone on record as saying he has no intention of surrendering the power of his office to authorize emergency health-related restrictions.
Basically, the legislation supports the idea of the legislature being involved in any implementation of health related restrictions. Republican lawmakers in particular felt that the wishes of the legislature were being muted by the Governor's all-encompassing authority on these kinds of issues.
The measure that was passed allows for the legislature to step in and have a seat at the table 30 days after a public health proclamation had been issued and is subject to being renewed. At that time the legislature could initiate a vote, and by a majority conclude that the Governor had exceeded his authority.
As you might imagine, there is still plenty left to debate on this particular issue but the legislature is about to run out of time. The current special session is scheduled to be gaveled to a close on October 27th.