Ige faces decision on bill to limit emergency authority of future governors

Lawmakers this session approved a bill that would allow them to end his and future governor’s emergency powers after 60 days.
Published: May. 30, 2022 at 6:25 PM HST|Updated: May. 31, 2022 at 11:33 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Lawmakers this session approved a bill that would allow them to end emergency powers for governors after 60 days.

Termination will require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature.

Now that measure is before the governor for his signature ― or veto.

“During the heat of the COVID pandemic, there was a lot of frustration out there in the community,” said state Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, (D) Wahiawa.

“If people feel the administration has gone too far and maybe has too heavy of a hand on the situation, the Legislature can put a check on it.”

Gov. David Ige issued his first emergency proclamation on March 4, 2020 for 60 days. He went on to extend the time period at total of 14 times over a two-year period.

Civil rights attorney Jim Hochberg, who has filed a legal challenge to the governor’s emergency powers, said the bill doesn’t go far enough. His suit argued that Hawaii law only allows the governor’s emergency powers to remain in place for 60 days.

He added that the Legislature could have stepped-in to end the emergency period ― but didn’t.

“Well, it was pretty clear from the massive continuing protests that people didn’t agree. But because it was a governor using executive power, they had no voice,” Hochberg said.

However, a state judge disagreed with the lawsuit, upholding the governor’s extensions.

“My understanding is, during the pandemic, (the governor) did have the legal right to do that -- there wasn’t any limitation prior to the passage of this bill for the governor to continue to extend and extend,” added Colin Moore, a University of Hawaii political science professor.

“This allowed him to operate pretty nimbly in a constantly evolving situation.”

State Adjutant General Kenneth Hara testified against giving the Legislature the power to end the governor’s emergency powers. He argued that it “will reduce the efficiency and effectiveness of an ongoing emergency response.”

Ige has until June 27 to inform the Legislature if he plans to veto the bill.

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