Better Utah in the News

Gov. Herbert signs bill requiring him to consult with legislative leaders during emergencies

This article originally appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune. Read it in its entirety here.

Gov. Gary Herbert on Monday endorsed one final bill from the Legislature’s recent coronavirus-related special session — a proposal that requires him to consult with House and Senate leaders before taking emergency action.

The mandate means Herbert must now give a heads-up to legislators at least 24 hours ahead of an emergency declaration or order. In addition, HB3005 states that lawmakers can “at any time” terminate one of the governor’s orders or executive actions.

Herbert’s spokeswoman said the governor’s office negotiated the bill with state lawmakers “to ensure that the governor will be empowered to act without delay under circumstances that necessitate immediate action.”

The original version would’ve required the governor to consult with state lawmakers at least 48 hours ahead of issuing an emergency decision.

“Even though the bill did not take effect until today, when the governor signed it, our office has been providing the Legislature with the 24-hour notice required by the bill since it passed,” spokeswoman Anna Lehnardt said in a statement. “And even before this bill was considered and passed, the governor has worked in good faith to provide legislative leadership notice regarding executive actions.”

The Alliance for a Better Utah, a progressive advocacy group, has criticized the bill as a “blatant power grab,” and some state lawmakers also objected to the legislation as a blurring of lines between governmental branches. However, the bill’s sponsor, House Majority Leader Francis Gibson, argued the governor should be keeping lawmakers in the loop as he declares emergencies or issues executive orders in response to a crisis.

This article originally appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune. Read it in its entirety here.

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