Georgia Legislators Debate Limits on Governor’s Emergency Powers


A new bill in the Georgia General Assembly wants to define limits on the governor’s emergency powers.

This, nearly one year after the COVID-19 pandemic first affected the United States.

State Sen. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth), the bill’s primary sponsor, discussed the bill at a Judiciary Subcommittee meeting Wednesday.

“The checks and balances of the three branches of government — executive, legislative, judicial — as we all know, are things that go back to middle school social studies,” Setzler said.

“The legislative branch is the lawmaking branch. The executive branch executes those laws. And there are circumstances we refer to broadly as emergency powers because of extraordinary circumstances.”

Setzler went on to say that legislators haven’t made many changes to state statute on the matter in decades.

“What are the right checks and balances in emergency circumstances, from the pandemic virus, like we saw with COVID-19? An invasion? Acts of terror that some states have seen? It is as broad as a disaster could be. The governor’s powers in response to that need to be expansive. There are some rules about what the governor can and cannot do,” Setzler said.

“This [bill] seeks to strike a balance that most legislators likely believe that when an emergency declaration is approved, initially by the governor, and then it’s ratified by the legislature that it would be approved for a certain time — some period of time that the legislature needs to reconvene and extend it. There is also a belief among legislators that within the broad powers the governor is given [that] there is some ability to limit the scope in a way that is appropriate to the disaster at hand.”

According to Georgia law, the governor may declare that a state of emergency exists in the event of actual or impending emergency or disaster of natural or human origin, a pandemic influenza emergency, an impending or actual enemy attack, or a public health emergency.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Brian Kemp” by Brian Kemp. Background Photo “Georgia Capitol” by DXR. CC BY-SA 4.0.








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One Thought to “Georgia Legislators Debate Limits on Governor’s Emergency Powers”

  1. jamesb

    the current governor should have no power