Manchester, NH – Representative Tony Lekas (R-Hudson) released the following statement after the House passed HB275, relative to the governor’s power to initiate a state of emergency and various emergency powers by a vote of 190-165.
“When the COVID-19 pandemic began, we had to balance giving the Governor the flexibility to take life-saving actions and preserving the checks & balances that define the American government. Along the way, the State Legislature noticed different aspects of the system that warrant improvement as we move forward. HB275 re-balances the scales by ensuring that the legislature has a say in emergency situations.”
“A state of emergency is an extraordinary occurrence where the constitutionally mandated separation of powers is suspended. This bill allows the legislature to play a greater hand in how these situations are handled. The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in 90 Emergency Orders being enacted in New Hampshire. If the legislature disagreed with one there was no way to eliminate it other than to completely end the state of emergency,” said Lekas. “This bill is not a referendum on how the recent state of emergency was handled. Even if we believe that the current Governor handled it perfectly, we need to consider the possibility that a future Governor may respond in a less appropriate manner.”
“When an emergency is declared we concentrate an immense amount of authority in one office. As representatives, we must actively represent our constituents, and HB275 forces the legislature to act in order to extend the state of emergency after 84 days. If there is opposition, we should share in the blame or credit for extending it.”