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Rep. Kidwell among sponsors of Emergency Powers Accountability Act

District 79 Rep. Keith Kidwell, Rep. Tim Moffitt, House Majority Leader John Bell and House Rules Chairman Destin Hall introduced on Wednesday the Emergency Powers Accountability Act, H.B. 264, one year after Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think we can all agree that no one should have absolute power and authority over our citizens,” Kidwell said in a press conference the N.C. House Republicans held Wednesday. “Especially for an entire year with emergency powers.”

The bill would allow a state of emergency declared by the governor to expire after seven days if it doesn’t have the support of the majority of the Council of State. The governor wouldn’t be able to extend a state of emergency without the concurrence of the Council, and “further concurrence” would be needed for any extension beyond 30 days.

The Council of State consists of the lieutenant governor, secretary of state, auditor, treasurer, superintendent of public instruction, attorney general, commissioner of agriculture, commissioner of labor and commissioner of insurance.

The bill defines a statewide emergency area as at least 67 of the state’s 100 counties.

“There needs to be accountability,” Kidwell said. “Unfortunately, the governor has chosen to disregard the statutory requirement that mandates that he consult with and have the concurrence of the Council of State anytime he is to make these statewide state of emergency declarations.

“The governor chose to unilaterally shut down businesses, close schools and severely limit the movement and lives of the citizens of this state. … the governor clearly does not understand how a representative republic works.”

While fighting a lawsuit then – Lt. Gov. Dan Forest filed against Cooper last year, Cooper’s attorneys argued that the governor can act unilaterally, without concurrence from the Council of State, if he sees that local governments are unable to respond effectively in a state of emergency.