California Governor Keeps Grip On Emergency Powers As State Reopens Economy

California’s economy and most coronavirus restrictions on public gatherings and businesses will lift on June 15, along with mask mandates and the color-coded, phased tier system guidelines for counties.  

Nevertheless, at a recent event celebrating California’s new vaccine lottery, Gov. Gavin Newsom said that he would not lift the state of emergency even as California reopens.

“We’re still in a state of emergency. This disease has not been extinguished. It’s not taking the summer months off,” Newsom said.

The governor first declared a state of emergency on March 4, 2020. This declaration, allowed under the California Emergency Services Act, gives Newsom the power to act in times of crisis swiftly and legally.

It also allows the state to continue the programs in place to deal with the effects of disasters. 

Since Newsom first declared the state of emergency he has issued at least 58 executive orders to alter or suspend 200 state regulations and laws.

He also has authorized billions of dollars in emergency spending, angering many Republican state senators and fueling the drive to recall him.

California has been one of the slowest states to relax Covid-19 restrictions. 

Emergency powers

The emergency declaration also means that the federal government can reimburse California for pandemic-related expenses. Newsom’s spokesperson, Alex Stack, said that keeping the state of emergency intact allows the state to continue operating programs needed to deal with the continuing effects of the pandemic. 

Republicans consider Newsom’s actions abuse of power and have challenged the governor in and out of the courtroom. The orders have added more fuel to the recall fire and led the California GOP to label Newsom a tyrant, dictator and monarch. 

“If Newsom believes the state is safe enough to reopen, then it’s safe for people to be able to make decisions for themselves without his arbitrary and capricious rules,” said Senate Republican Leader Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita.

“I believe it is time for him to hang up his grow and restore our democracy.”

Caitlyn Jenner, the former Olympian and reality TV star who is running against Gov. Newsom in the impending recall special election, issued a statement saying, “Gavin Newsom admitted what we knew all along—he has no intention of getting California back to normal, and everything out of his mouth is a lie. In Gavin’s California, he acts like a dictator and continues to keep Californians under his rule with his draconian lockdown.”

In his defense, Newsom said it’s up to voters to decide if he has been effective as governor during the crisis.

“Every single decision I have made is consistent with the work I’ve done for decades and what I campaigned on,” he said.