Baldwin County GOP chair Hoyt urges legislators to be ‘vigilant’ on governor’s emergency powers — ‘We don’t elect dictators’ at state, national levels
A possible Joe Biden presidency has renewed concerns of a possible second shutdown as COVID-19 cases are on the rise throughout the country. Last week, the media-and-self-declared President-elect Biden named his coronavirus task force, among which included the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy director Dr. Michael Osterholm, an outspoken proponent of a six-to-eight week economic shutdown.
The legality of such an effort by the federal government is unclear, and it could be up to state governments to enact such a measure on behalf of the federal government.
During an appearance on Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5, Baldwin County Republican Party chairman Michael Hoyt argued against another shutdown. He called on members of the Alabama Legislature to “clawback” some of the emergency powers granted to the state government’s executive branch.
“[E]ven Governor Ivey, you know, once we kind of moved into Phase 3 and started transitioning back open, she expressed a lot of regret if you go back and look at what she said — it was an error, it was a mistake to list businesses as essential, nonessential and basically shut things down, and in retrospect, that was a mistake to do that,” Hoyt said. “Because as you know, I mean, it was a farce, Jeff. We shut down ‘mom n’ pops,’ we shut down small businesses, and we said, ‘Go line up at Sam’s Club. Go line up at Walmart or Lowe’s.'”
“People still have to eat, have groceries and provide for their family,” he continued. “It’s not going to happen again, not down here. Our legislators need to be vigilant. You’ll notice Governor Ivey and governors in other states that have had mask mandates — they’re not calling their legislature back for a special session, even though they’ve had abbreviated sessions with COVID. And the reason for that is that concern about the legislature calling them to account or clawing back some of these powers. Just as Senator[-elect] Tuberville knows we have three branches of government — one of them is judiciary — but I think these governors forget there are three branches of government. We don’t elect dictators on the state level, and we don’t on the national level. They do have to be held account, and they will by the people.”
Hoyt cited the Alabama Emergency Management Act of 1955, which gives the governor the ability to authorize an emergency, and speculated it was authored with the threat of nuclear war in mind.
“It’s very concerning, and I was looking back at the code,” he said. “It’s the Alabama Emergency Management Act of 1955. Of course, the concern then was probably the Red Scare and nuclear war and that kind of thing. That was probably what was in mind and natural disasters. The language in those statutes is very frightening, particularly [Section] 31-9-8, which says the governor can declare this emergency, and it can be for public health reasons and last for 60 days unless she extends it by proclamation with no end in sight. There’s nothing in the statute. There’s referencing the legislature other than the lieutenant governor, and the speaker may try to petition the governor to call a special session. Of course, she doesn’t have to do that. In a lot of states, I know New Jersey is an example, and I’m sure there’s others, a joint session of the legislature by resolution can terminate a declaration of emergency by the executive branch. I don’t think we have that here, and I think we’ve really got to look from top to bottom at our emergency management statutes and really claw back the authority of the governor’s office and the state health executive. It’s really concerning.”
@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.