Release: Maine Continues to Fall Behind in 50-State Analysis of Emergency Power Laws
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 6, 2023
Contact: Jacob Posik
Director of Communications
Maine Policy Releases the Third Edition of
Scoring Emergency Executive Power in All 50 States
The scorecard analyzes the balance of power between the legislative and executive branches during states of emergency in every U.S. state.
PORTLAND, Maine – Maine Policy Institute today released the third edition of Scoring Emergency Executive Power in All 50 States (2023), a 50-state analysis of the balance of power between lawmakers and governors during declared emergencies.
Maine’s ranking has fallen from tied for 22nd overall in the first edition of the scorecard to tied for 29th in the third edition. This is a result of inactivity in Maine while other states have enacted successful reforms that have improved their respective rankings.
“This iteration of the scorecard shows there is still an appetite across the country for balance and accountability in emergency powers laws,” said director of policy, Nick Murray. “Maine continues to fall behind while other states show leadership. We must learn the lessons of the pandemic and enact reforms that protect against autocratic governance and safeguard the rights and liberties of Maine citizens, businesses and organizations.”
The report highlights a pair of bipartisan solutions offered by lawmakers in the 131st Maine Legislature. “An Act to Restore Balanced Emergency Powers,” model legislation drafted by Maine Policy and published our Legislative Blueprint, would limit emergency declarations to 30 days, require two-thirds support in the legislature to extend an emergency declaration, and provide expedited judicial review of legal challenges to emergency orders which curtail constitutional rights. The bill is co-sponsored by Rep. James White (R-Guilford), Sen. Eric Brakey (R-Androscoggin) and Sen. James Libby (R-Cumberland).
Another proposal, “An Act to Enhance Legislative Participation in the Use of Emergency Powers,” would require the governor to be “in direct consultation with the Legislative Council” in order to exercise emergency powers, while also requiring the governor to “narrowly tailor such actions” to address the emergency “while limiting the extent to which they deviate from the actions that would be permissible in the absence of a declared emergency.” The measure is sponsored by Rep. Adam R. Lee (D-Auburn).
“Other states are taking action to fix these broken laws while Maine leaders sit on their hands and pretend everything about our emergency pandemic response was perfect,” said chief executive officer Matthew Gagnon. “Both Republicans and Democrats in Maine recognize the importance of this issue and the need for reform. Now is the time to restore balance to Maine’s emergency powers laws.”
In 2022, two states (Arizona and Virginia) implemented reforms that substantially improved their rankings in this year’s scorecard. The enactment of SB 1009 in Arizona, which specified that emergencies declared by the governor may not exceed 30 days at a time and terminate after 120 days unless extended by the legislature, catapulted the Grand Canyon State from tied for 49th to 25th among all U.S. states.
Virginia’s HB 158, which limits the duration of emergency orders to 45 days and prohibits the governor from issuing the same or a similar order after their termination, improved the Old Dominion’s ranking from tied for 42nd to tied for 17th overall.
Click here to read a digital version of the analysis.
Click here to download a physical version of the analysis.
Maine Policy Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works to expand individual liberty and economic freedom in Maine. Learn more about our work at www.mainepolicy.org.