California lawmakers want explanation from Newsom on state of emergency

California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KRON) — One year and three months have passed since Governor Gavin Newsom announced California’s COVID-19 state of emergency.

Now, some state lawmakers are demanding answers from Governor Newsom after he announced the pandemic-related state of emergency will be in place after the state reopens June 15.

Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, R-Rocklin, is one of a handful of lawmakers who sent Newsom a letter Monday demanding an explanation.

“There’s some level of, I think, frustration that is now building to kind of an all-time high,” Kiley said.

Kiley is also the author of a concurrent resolution in the Assembly to end California’s pandemic-related state of emergency. He said the Legislature could take it up as soon as this week if lawmakers wanted.

“I’m going to be urging my colleagues in the Legislature in every way I can to do just that, to pass this resolution to end this emergency, as is required by law, and bring this era of one-man rule to an end,” Kiley explained.

There is a similar measure prepared in the state Senate.

“There’s been no effort to move it. And you know, privately, a lot of my friends on the other side of the aisle would like to see him relinquish those powers on his own,” said Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita.

The state of emergency gives Newsom the broad authority to suspend and impose new rules in California, and also allows the federal government to cover the state’s COVID-19-related costs.

Newsom said Friday that just because the state plans to drop most pandemic-related restrictions on June 15 does not mean the pandemic is over.

“Because we’re still in a state of emergency, this disease has not been extinguished, it’s not vanished, it’s not taking the summer months off,” Newsom explained.

California is one of 13 states that have not set an end date for its state of emergency, according to the National Academy of State and Health Policy.

The others have either dropped the state of emergency or plan to by the end of the summer.

During this emergency, Newsom has issued 58 executive orders to change or suspend hundreds of laws.

Next week, two Republican lawmakers, including Kiley, plan to appeal to the California Supreme Court in a case against Newsom and his use of executive power, but it’s unclear if action there could effectively end the state of emergency.

“We’re very confident that if the California Supreme Court takes a close look at the legal issues, does a careful, thoughtful analysis, then it will side with us and we’ll make sure that something like we’ve had, over the course of this last year, never happens again,” Kiley said.

KRON4 reached out to Democratic legislative leaders Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate Pro Tempore Toni Atkins for comment but neither has responded.

KRON4 also reached out to Newsom’s office for comment but has not yet heard back.

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