A bill crafted to curb the governor’s authority to issue long-term states of emergency could soon become law. Arizona State Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita’s bill, SB1009, passed on a party line vote out of the House on Wednesday.
Currently, the governor is authorized by statute to proclaim a state of emergency which will take effect immediately in an area affected or likely to be affected if the governor finds that circumstances outlined in statute exist. During a state of emergency, the governor has complete authority over all agencies of the state government and may direct all agencies of the state government to use and employ state personnel, equipment and facilities to perform any activities designed to prevent or alleviate actual and threatened damage due to the emergency. The state of emergency only ends by proclamation of the governor or by concurrent resolution of the Legislature.
Ugenti-Rita’s bill authorizes the governor to issue an initial state of emergency proclamation for a public health emergency for a period of no more than 30 days. The governor could then extend the state of emergency for no more than 120 additional days, provided that each extension was no more than 30 days long. Once a maximum of 150 total days have passed, the state of emergency expires. The bill does consider potential long-term emergencies, and allows the state of emergency to be extended an indefinite number of times, so long as the Legislature passes a concurrent resolution with an extension that does not exceed 30 days per resolution.