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Lawmakers seek to curb Gov. Mills emergency powers

The Committee on State and Local Government heard testimony on several bills aimed at changing Maine’s current laws including a bill that would limit a governor’s emergency powers to 30 days.
Some Republican lawmakers want to curb the emergency powers Governor Mills currently has as...
Some Republican lawmakers want to curb the emergency powers Governor Mills currently has as Maine continues to deal with the pandemic.
Published: Mar. 29, 2021 at 3:46 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - Some Republican lawmakers want to curb the emergency powers Governor Mills currently has as Maine continues to deal with the pandemic.

The Committee on State and Local Government heard testimony on several bills aimed at changing Maine’s current laws including a bill that would limit a governor’s emergency powers to 30 days.

It would require each renewal of a state of emergency to be approved by a two-thirds majority from the Maine Legislature.

It also states the legislature can use a joint resolution to terminate a state of emergency at any time.

More than a year ago, Mills issued a state of civil emergency and has renewed it numerous time.

Under Maine law, civil states of emergency may only be issued in 30 day increments.

“For the past year, Maine has essentially had an authoritarian form of government given the way the emergency powers have been handled by the chief executive,” said Rep. Dick Bradstreet.

“For over a year, we have lived under an emergency declaration that no one could have predicted. If they had, they never would’ve allowed for the chief executive powers and decrees to go on in perpetuity,” added Rep. John Andrews. “The last year has seen a devastating erosion in the separation of powers between the branches. Our system was never intended to function this way. It is an unsustainable pathway forward.”

Public comment during the hearing consisted largely of accounts from Maine residents on how their lives had been impacted during the pandemic and changes they’d like to see.

The current emergency declaration is set to expire on April 15th.

Mills has repeatedly said the emergency declaration is necessary to keep the spread of the virus under control in the state.

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