Legislature Moving Closer To Ending Ducey’s Declaration Of Emergency

By Terri Jo Neff

A Senate Concurrent Resolution that could terminate Gov. Doug Ducey’s March 11, 2020 declaration of emergency will be considered on Monday by the full Senate.

Currently under state law, a non-war state of emergency can only be ended by proclamation of the governor “or by concurrent resolution of the legislature declaring it at an end.” As Ducey has not put forth a plan for termination the current COVID-19 state of emergency any time soon, Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita (R-LD23) seeks to end it with SCR1001.

According to SCR1001, Arizona’s government “was established to protect and maintain individual rights and must frequently return to these principles to secure these rights and the perpetuity of our free government” but that Ducey’s year-old declaration and executive orders have “drastically restricted and suppressed the individual freedoms and economic prosperity of Arizonans.”

SCR1001 cites the fact Arizonans have been “personally responsible and have exceeded expectations in slowing community spread through their own individual behaviors and actions, accepting personal restrictions as a civic duty to prevent disease transmission.”

If SCR1001 clears its Third Reading on Monday it will be transmitted to the House. It would take immediate effect upon passage in the House.

However, legislators have been forewarned by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich on Feb. 17 that Ducey could simply declare a new state of emergency, and even re-institute prior measures, “so long as the conditions for the existence of a state of emergency” are satisfied in accordance with the emergency powers statue.

While Ugenti-Rita’s effort would end the current state of emergency, another Third Reading is slated for Monday for SCR1010 which would require a governor to call a special session of the Legislature at the same time a state of emergency declaration is issued.

But even if Sen. Kelly Townsend’s SCR1010 passes out of the legislature, it must still be approved by voters before the changes to Arizona’s emergency powers law take affect. The Secretary of State would put the issue on the ballot for the next general election.

In fact voters could be asked to choose between Townsend’s immediate legislative special session option and one which gives a governor a few days before needing to call a special session after issuing an emergency proclamation.

SCR1003 sponsored by Sen. Warren Petersen (R-LD12) was approved last month by the Senate. It would terminate a governor’s state of emergency 30 days after issuance unless extended by a Concurrent Resolution of the Legislature. It also requires a legislative session to be called within 10 days if the legislature is not already in session.

Petersen’s SCR1003 has already been transmitted to the House where it awaits committee assignment by the House Speaker Rusty Bowers. As with SCR1010, it would be up to Arizona’s voters whether or not to make the change to a governor’s current emergency powers.