VA Gov. Glenn Youngkin signs measures curtailing executive’s emergency powers

After seemingly endless abuses of governmental power during the COVID-19 pandemic comes welcome news out of Virginia, where Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin recently signed legislation curtailing his and subsequent chief executives’ authority during states of emergency, as The Center Square reports.

Youngkin signed both House Bill 158 and Senate Bill 4, both of which place limits on the time in which executive orders issued under emergency authority may remain in effect, something which could arguably have prevented a significant number of abuses during the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the provisions, any regulation, rule, or order implemented by a governor during a state of emergency in the future will be valid for no more than 45 days, and there will no longer be possible for that governor to put the same or similar order into effect once that time period passes.

According to the measures, after the initial 45 days have expired under such an emergency order, only the General Assembly shall have the power to extend or reinstate it via duly passed legislation.

In addition, Youngkin put his signature to Senate Bill 46, which eases the path for citizens to mount challenges to executive actions taken during a state of emergency if they shutter businesses or schools or have the effect of restricting the movement of healthy citizens.

Despite the fact that Youngkin sought amendments to the measure that would have weakened their effect, the Virginia General Assembly stood firm and rejected them, ultimately passing the provisions on a bipartisan basis.

The measures come on the heels of frustration among many over the heavy-handed lockdowns and restrictions put into place by prior Gov. Ralph Northam (D) during the peak of the pandemic.

Indeed, as Townhall noted, the abuses of the Northam era were referenced in a statement from Youngkin press secretary Macaulay Porter on the rationale behind the bills and how the new laws would benefit Virginians.

“The governor will continue to take action against overreach. Given the previous administration’s power grabs during Covid, he was pleased to limit the governor’s emergency powers during a state of emergency and reiterate his commitment to a smaller government,” the statement explained, articulating a philosophy to which millions in a number of other states surely wish their chief executives would subscribe.