The way some state legislators spin it, you’d think Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey unilaterally decided to one day call himself king of the Grand Canyon State. The emergency powers the governor enjoys allowed him to decide which businesses were to stay open during the pandemic, when students would be allowed to return to school, and whether to issue a statewide mask order. And that’s hardly the end of it; with a declaration and a stroke of a pen, Ducey can make decisions that affect the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
It’s clear that Ducey, like a lot of governors across the country, has fallen in love with the executive order. It’s an effective governance tool that allows him to make quick and broad decisions without pesky legislative and judicial oversight getting in the way.
And yet, our governor hardly got this powerful without the state legislature enabling him to do so by shirking their own responsibilities.
Now, state legislators are admitting that things may have gone too far, and they’re forming a new committee to examine Ducey’s emergency authority and possibly propose new limitations. We can save the committee some precious time: Ducey absolutely has too much latitude and he needs to be reined in.
Here’s the thing: Legislative leaders knew all of this back in March, and they were content to leave Ducey unchecked despite some agitation within the House and Senate ranks to keep the legislative session going during the early days of the pandemic. Efforts to change things now are disingenuous at best because they won’t take effect until next year, if at all. That means Arizona residents are subject to Ducey’s unchecked judgments, good or bad, until the next legislative session, still several months away -- and that’s only if they get around to dealing with the issue in the session’s early days. If it’s treated like the state budget, it won’t get discussed until late spring.
If the legislature is serious about its role in state government, then our elected representatives need to take a more active and immediate role in managing this crisis. Lake Havasu City’s own Sonny Borrelli has a role in the GOP’s Senate leadership, and State Reps. Regina Cobb and Leo Biasiucci have enjoyed elevated influence among party ranks -- we hope they’ll use their status to take back power from the governor’s office.
One man shouldn’t get to decide what’s good for the entire state. We need our elected leaders to do the job they were elected to do.
— Today's News-Herald