California · COVID-19

Calif. Dems unwilling to pull plug on Newsom’s emergency powers

A Tuesday push to end California’s pandemic state of emergency was firmly rejected, despite reduced coronavirus spread rates and. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s efforts to transition the state to endemic response.

“It is time for the legislature to reassert its constitutional authority as a legislative body and end this endless emergency,” said state Sen. Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore).

The bill, Senate Concurrent Resolution 5, was dusted off for its first hearing after Melendez introduced the push in December of 2020.

Melendez said the state of emergency has given the governor too much power and noted 29 other states have ended their emergencies. 

The debate surrounding the resolution was interesting for one particular reason: a lack of defense of the emergency declaration by Gov. Gavin Newsom and his administration.

The lack of activity from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office prompted some Capitol watchers to comment that reclaiming emergency powers from Newsom had become an inherently partisan battle, with Democrats unwilling to wrest control from the executive.

The Senate Governmental Organization Committee rejected ending the state of emergency, 4-8.

Following the vote, Newsom’s office issued a statement.

“Elected officials should focus on what best serves their constituents and stop with the political theater. The state will continue to be guided by the latest science and data as we respond to the evolving pandemic,” a Newsom spokesperson said.

The bill’s rejection on Tuesday was not final, as committee chair Sen. Bill Dodd (D-Napa) granted reconsideration later in the legislative session.

Reid Stone is a contributing reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun.