Delaware bill would require Governor to include lawmakers in state of emergency policy making

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When the General Assembly returns to work, State Rep. Jeff Spiegelman, R-Clayton, will introduce a proposed constitutional amendment intended to give citizens a voice in decisions made during an extended state of emergency.

Presently, the governor can declare a state of emergency for up to 30-days, and renew that order at his or her discretion. While a state of emergency is in force, the governor has broad authority to make decisions and set policy, without any input from state senators and representatives.

Rep. Spiegelman argues that such unchecked authority is not in keeping with the spirit of the republic and prevents legislators from fully representing the interests of their constituents.

Rep. Spiegelman largely expressed concerns over the lack of insight he and his colleagues in the General Assembly have been granted with respect to the emergency orders.

“This situation is so bad that often times I will get a text from lobbyists who are more in the know about what policy decision is about to come out in the press in the next 10 to 20 minutes than I will,” Rep. Spiegelman said. “What this means is that those decisions are not being made with input from the Delaware General Assembly.”

The House of Representatives’ Republican Caucus leadership sent a letter to the governor on April 17 requesting that he consult with small, bipartisan groups of legislators — as selected by his office — before making new modifications to his State of Emergency declaration.

In part, the letter read: “Bringing legislators into the development of new orders and guidance would improve communication between the executive and legislative branches during this challenging time. It would also provide Delawareans with a voice in the creation of new policies during the State of Emergency — the lack of which has been a frustration repeatedly expressed by many of our constituents.”

The governor disregarded the request.

Rep. Spiegelman maintains the General Assembly’s 62 members represent a vast resource of experience and proficiency in every area of public policy — expertise that would improve the decision-making process.