Virginia State Rep. Introduces Bill to Limit Governor’s Executive Order Powers in Times of Emergency


State Sen. David Suetterlein (R-Cave Spring) (pictured above) introduced a bill last week to check the Virginia governor’s executive order powers under the Emergency Services and Disaster Law (ESDL).

The ESDL allows the Virginia governor “to direct and compel evacuation of all or part of the populace from any stricken or threatened area if this action is deemed necessary for the preservation of life, implement emergency mitigation, preparedness, response or recovery actions; prescribe routes, modes of transportation and destination in connection with evacuation.”

According to the bill, Senate Bill (SB) 5008 would not allow any executive order issued under the ESDL to last longer than 45 days from the date it was published.

Furthermore, this legislation would not allow the governor to issue an order related to the emergency if the Virginia General Assembly does not do anything relating to the order, the bill says.

Current Virginia law allows these executive orders to be effective until June 30 after the General Assembly’s next regular session.

The proposal is now in the General Assembly’s Committee on General Laws and Technology.

SB 5008 is the second bill a Republican introduced in the state senate that tries limiting the length of time a Virginian governor’s executive order under ESDL last.

On July 17, state Sen. Steve Newman (R-Lynchburg) introduced SB 5001. The difference between these two bills is the length of time the executive order would last if the General Assembly fails to act. In Newman’s bill, the length of time is 30 days rather than 45.

The Virginia Assembly will begin its special session on August 18. Gov. Ralph Northam called this special session to adopt a budget and consider COVID-19 and criminal justice reform legislation.

Northam first issued an executive order related to the coronavirus on March 12. Since then, he has issued executive orders that restrict Virginia restaurants and retail businesses, closed schools, and implemented a temporary stay-at-home order.

Last week, Northam issued another executive order that put even more restrictions on Virginia residents. As of July 31, places that serve alcohol have to stop serving by 10:00 p.m.

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Zachery Schmidt is the digital editor of Star News Digital Media. If you have any tips, email Zachery at [email protected]. Follow Zachery on Twitter @zacheryschmidt2.
Photo “David Suetterlein” by David Sutterlein. Background Photo “Virginia Capitol” by Martin Kraft. CC BY-SA 3.0.






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