SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Members of the Oregon House narrowly defeated a move on Tuesday to consider a bill that would give the Legislature oversight of the governor's emergency powers, enacted most recently to address the coronavirus pandemic.
The motion by Rep. Rick Lewis, R-Silverton, one of the two chief sponsors of the bill, to pull the bill from the rules committee was defeated with 28 votes against and 27 in favor, including several Democrats. The other chief co-sponsor of the bill is Rep. Marty Wilde, D-Eugene.
The House Republican caucus said in a statement after the vote that all Republican House members voted “in favor to make the governor accountable to the Legislature.”
The bill requires that declarations and extensions of states of emergency under certain statutes be accompanied by written explanations. It also provides that, after termination of a state of emergency, the governor may not declare another state of emergency for the same purpose unless so authorized by the Legislature.
In its statement, the Republican caucus complained that Gov. Kate Brown, in unilaterally extending her own emergency powers, has "the ability to issue shutdowns without involving another governing body.”
Last week, Brown announced that she was moving 15 counties into the extreme risk category for the coronavirus, which imposes restrictions that include banning indoor restaurant dining. Some of the state’s biggest cities, including Portland, Salem, Bend and Eugene, are in the counties that on Friday became classified in the most dire category.