SACRAMENTO — Most of California’s Coronavirus restrictions on businesses and public gatherings will end June 15. But Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday that he’s not ready to give up the broad powers he has to impose those rules, saying he will keep a statewide state of emergency declaration in place.

Newsom first declared a state of emergency on March 4, 2020. He has the power to do that under the California Emergency Services Act, a series of state laws designed to help the government act quickly in times of crisis.

The declaration means California can be reimbursed from the federal government for many of its pandemic-related expenses. But it also gives Newsom authority to suspend state laws and impose new rules. Since declaring this emergency, Newsom has issued at least 58 executive orders to alter or suspend hundreds of laws because of the virus.

Those included suspending a law requiring employers to post notices in the breakroom because everyone was working from home. He altered public meetings laws to let local governments and the state parole board meet remotely.

Other changes were more significant, including issuing a statewide stay-at-home order that forced many businesses to close and halted public gatherings like concerts, sporting events, graduations and weddings.

Friday, Newsom reiterated his commitment to lifting most Coronavirus restrictions on June 15. But he noted variants of the virus are still spreading that, combined with varying vaccination rates in other states and countries, could require him to issue new restrictions in the future.

“This disease has not been extinguished. It’s not vanished; it’s not taking the summer months off,” Newsom said.

Newsom has the authority to end the state of emergency himself. The state Legislature can also end it by passing a concurrent resolution. Republicans in the state Senate, led by Sen. Melissa Melendez, have tried repeatedly to force a vote on such a resolution, but Democrats, who have a majority of seats, have blocked it.

“California’s vaccination rate is high and the COVID infection rate continues to decrease,” said Melendez, a Republican from Lake Elsinore. “It is time for the legislature to shake off the impotency the Governor has imposed on the legislative branch of government and pass (the resolution ending the emergency).”

State law requires the governor to end the state of emergency as soon as conditions warrant. But the effects of disasters can linger for years. California is still under a state of emergency declaration for a wildfire in 2018 that killed 85 people and destroyed most of the town of Paradise. While the fire is no longer burning, the state is still cleaning up and rebuilding.

The California Emergency Services Act gives the governor power to suspend laws.

(1) comment

Jimzan

Recall Newsom...the POS is still playing dictator...probably because Cali has a strong economy and can play the charade out longer. What happen during the Texas Baseball game..."what no outbreaks?, you know the bottom feeding media would have been all over the news if the number of CoVid cases spiked...or how about the recent Nascar event...what no outbreaks? I bet the power hungry dirtbags are fuming over that. Newsom is a weasel,time to remove the idiot.

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