On March 13th of this year, Governor Doug Burgum issued an Executive Order declaring a State of Emergency “in response to the public health crisis” known as COVID-19. It’s been a long eight months since then. And according to documentation received by The Minuteman, Republican lawmakers may be discussing the possibility of ending the State of Emergency.
As you will see below, Legislative Council prepared two documents for Rep. Rick Becker (R – District 7). The memorandum “addresses questions regarding considerations for a reconvened legislative session to terminate a state of disaster or emergency declared by a governor.” The other is a concurrent resolution to do just that.
Note the words “reconvened legislative session”. Since the legislature didn’t use all 80 days of the 2019 session, Legislative Management can “reconvene the Legislative Assembly”. If this were to take place, terminating the State of Emergency would need to be done by November 30th. That is the last possible day current lawmakers can consider the issue before the Organizational Session for 2021 begins and new legislators are sworn in. (Note: See the memorandum below for an explanation of the “zip process” that could be used to accomplish this in one day.)
In other words, if Legislative Management refuses to reconvene and take this issue up before the end of the month, we won’t see it addressed until some time after January 5th. That’s when the 2021 Legislative Session begins. By then, the State of Emergency will have drug on for about 10 months.
As you’re aware, Governor Burgum announced additional “mitigation” efforts last night in hopes of slowing the spread of COVID-19. Among them are a state-wide mask mandate. This is a reversal for the governor. Until now, he chose the route of spending nearly $2 million educating us about the virtues of wearing masks. As of today, you can be fined up to $1,000 for failure to comply with the order.
Whether it’s mask mandates or harmful edicts on businesses, I think it’s fair to question how sensible these state-wide mitigation efforts are. For example, take a look at current COVID-19 death rates by state and a state-by-state list of mask requirements. You’ll find no correlation between the two. In fact, some of the worst states have the longest running mandates.
What we do know for certain is that businesses and individuals have suffered tremendously over the last eight months in North Dakota— and across the nation. You can’t close down or limit occupancy on businesses and expect otherwise. Anxiety, depression, stress, and suicides have increased. People are being harmed — significantly — and not just by the virus.
Let’s be very clear— Supporting the idea of terminating Governor Burgum’s State of Emergency is not an indication that we don’t take the virus seriously. We do. But like so many things in life, government obviously isn’t the answer to ending this pandemic.
It’s time to end the madness. Contact your legislators and tell them you want Governor Burgum’s State of Emergency terminated— now. They need to hear from you.
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