This week, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin signed two bills limiting the emergency powers of the state’s executive branch.
The bills, launched by Republicans in the legislature, are aimed at preventing another government-sanctioned shutdown of businesses and schools. In Virginia, Democrat Governor Ralph Northam’s shutdown policies during the pandemic ruined the economy and kept kids out of their classrooms for over a year.
Now, Youngkin, who campaigned on education, is taking action to make sure schools can’t stay closed for more than 45 days during a state of emergency.
According to strategist Greg Price, the bills would also make it easier for Commonwealth citizens to challenge emergency orders if they lead to closures of schools and businesses.
Senate Bill 4 reads:
Emergency Services and Disaster Law; limitation on duration of executive orders. Limits the duration of any executive order issued by the Governor pursuant to his powers under the Emergency Services and Disaster Law to no more than 45 days from the date of issuance. The bill provides that if the General Assembly does not take any action on the rule, regulation, or order within the 45 days during which the rule, regulation, or order is effective, the Governor shall thereafter be prohibited from issuing the same or a similar rule, regulation, or order relating to the same emergency. Under current law, once issued, such executive orders are effective until June 30 following the next regular session of the General Assembly.
Senate Bill 46 reads:
Certain emergency and quarantine orders; additional procedural requirements. Provides that, in any case in which the Governor has issued an emergency order that includes any measure that closes schools or businesses or restricts the movement of healthy persons within the area to which the order applies, all of the rights, protections, and procedures applicable in the case of an order of quarantine issued by the State Health Commissioner shall apply.