GOP State Representative Files Bill To Limit Governor Charlie Baker’s Unrestrained Power Amid Pandemics

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Should a Massachusetts governor have this kind of power ever again?

That depends on who you ask.

If you ask state Representative Marc Lombardo (R-Billerica), that answer is a resounding no.

The conservative state representative recently filed a bill to curb the power of the governor to alter people’s way of life the way Massachusetts Republican Governor Charlie Baker has amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this month, Lombardo filed HD.1765. It’s called “An Act providing for checks and balances to the Civil Defense Act of 1950.”

The bill would amend the Massachusetts Civil Defense Act of 1950 to state that the governor cannot use some of his authority under the bill for more than 30 days “without the adoption of a joint resolution of the house and senate by a three-fifths, roll-call vote of those present and voting of each chamber  granting a continuation of said Proclamation of State of Emergency or powers or Executive Orders or general regulations or any part thereof.” After 30 days, the governor’s emergency powers would have to be renewed by a three-fifths, roll-call vote among all present members of both chambers of the state legislature.

Specifically, this bill deals with declaring a State of Emergency, expanded executive powers under a State of Emergency, property seizures, as well as the ability to issue fines and penalties for people who don’t comply with the governor’s orders.

Lombardo explained to NewBostonPost why he filed the bill.

“The enactment of the Civil Defense Act is no small thing,” Lombardo said in an email message. “Unfortunately today, there are a little to no limits placed upon the Governor once this act is enabled. Whereas the legislature is the voice of the people, it should be imperative that there is legislative oversight on an ongoing basis whenever the civil defense act is utilized.”

Baker’s sweeping coronavirus measures were challenged in court in June 2020, but on December 10, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that they are legal under existing state law. That means Baker does not need to go through the legislature to shut down sectors of the economy and public life.

Although many are not happy with Governor Baker’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe, who has argued in front of the U.S. Supreme Court 35 times, told NewBostonPost in an email message last year that as the law stands, all of Baker’s actions amid the coronavirus pandemic were perfectly legal under Massachusetts law.

“I’m confident that nothing Governor Baker has done to date regarding Covid-19 violates federal law, or state law, for that matter,” Tribe said.

The press office for Governor Baker could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.