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Home > Featured > Republican legislators propose bills to reduce Governor’s powers in wake of new COVID-19 restrictions

Republican legislators propose bills to reduce Governor’s powers in wake of new COVID-19 restrictions

By Bob Conrad

Senate and Assembly Republicans are taking aim at Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak with new bills for the 2021 session that seek to reduce executive branch powers. They are trying to curtail the ability of the governor’s office to issue and maintain emergency directives.

“After eight months of contradicting directives, massive budgets cuts, thousands of Nevada business closures and even more of our hard-working citizens on unemployment, far too many Nevadans head into the holiday season with a sense of hopelessness,” said Assembly Republican representative Eric Roberts.

Three bill-draft requests have been submitted.

BDR 36-41, proposed by Assembly member Jim Wheeler, would limit the duration of emergency declarations declared by the governor. BDR 36-51 would revise emergency management provisions and require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to extend emergency declarations beyond 30 days. BDR 178, proposed by Senator Ira Hansen (R), would limit executive powers under emergency declarations.

“The Assembly Republican Caucus supports the efforts of our Republican colleagues to rein in the governor’s emergency powers and restore the appropriate checks and balances designed to keep us free,” said Assembly member Robin Titus (R). “The governor’s almost unlimited power to micro-manage our state is far too restrictive and inconsistent, including his latest directives that skirt the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure in your own home.”

A petition, signed by all Republican legislators, was circulated in August. It called for a special session to reduce executive branch powers.

“If we’ve learned anything about the political process in response to the coronavirus pandemic, it is this: that for all practical purposes, NRS 414 places unlimited and unchecked power in the Executive branch for an unlimited period of time,” said Senator Keith Pickard (R-Henderson). “That is the kind of power that our forefathers fought a revolution over. In the United States, true power rests in the people.”

Republicans hold minority positions in both houses of the Nevada Legislature. They retained in 2020 three Assembly seats, ensuring Democrats lost a veto-proof majority.

The governor did not respond to the new bill drafts but instead encouraged people to wear masks and avoid gatherings as the state is seeing record cases and daily deaths — surpassing 2,000 statewide — of the coronavirus disease.”The Governor continues to urge all of Nevada’s leaders to wear a mask and set an example for their communities by following all public health measures during this pandemic, including avoiding large public gatherings where measures are not followed and risk of spread is high,” said Sisolak spokesperson Meghin Delaney.

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