State Legislature Moves to Repeal Governor’s Emergency Powers

Situation Report | March 8, 2021

State lawmakers have advanced legislation to repeal the Governor’s COVID-19 emergency powers, saying in a bill memo that “it is time to return to a more regular order and to move forward with increased oversight and review.”

The bill appears to have enough votes to override a veto from the Governor.

These emergency powers have been in effect since March 2020. They were granted by the state Legislature at that time “to allow for a nimble response to a pandemic when the state did not have a lot of information about the virus,” the bill memo says.

Since then, the Governor has issued numerous executive orders — and extensions to them — covering everything from mandated face coverings, gathering limits, and business closure or capacity requirements to very specific regulatory waivers affecting home care and other providers, such as home telehealth flexibility, nursing supervision requirements, and more.

The bill requires five days’ notice from the Governor prior to issuing an extension or modification of any orders. He must also certify that the order is needed to address public health or safety concerns in the pandemic. The Legislature can also terminate, by concurrent resolution, executive orders “at any time.” And the Governor’s office would have to provide searchable information on its website with additional information detailing the justification for emergency suspensions and directives.

Any directives in effect at the time of this repealer would be permitted to continue for 30 days.

HCA will be reviewing the legislation more closely to assess its impact on waivers for home and community-based services. In legislative advocacy meetings over the past several weeks we have identified key areas of regulatory flexibility that should be sustained beyond the health emergency. We will continue to emphasize those provisions should the Legislature take a more active role in repealing or seeking to alter applicable executive orders.