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Bill to change governor's control state of emergency orders dies

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MONTGOMERY — A bill that would have shortened state of emergency orders and given the Legislature a say in extending them died Monday, the final day of the legislative session.

A vote to reconsider debate on the bill passed with a final vote of 41-44 with 13 abstentions.

Senate Bill 97 from Sen. Tom Whatley, R-Auburn, would have limited state of emergency orders, like those issued since last spring in response to the Coronavirus, to 45 days and with a possible 120 day extension. But any extension after that would have had to be approved by a joint resolution from the Legislature.

Rep. Mike Holmes, R-Wetumpka, sponsored the bill in the House and told members on Monday that the bill was not about limiting the governor’s power but allowing Alabamians more say into wide sweeping actions taken in state of emergency orders.

The vote to reconsider the budget isolation resolution, a procedural vote prior to debate on most bills, was taken after multiple House members learned that they had not received the substitute version of the bill being considered.

The bill had been changed from its original form of stopping emergency orders after 14 days when Whatley said he worked with the governor’s office.

Current state law says state of emergency orders can last up to 60 days and Gov. Kay Ivey has extended the current state of emergency order that the state is under 26 times. The current order ends July 6 but most of the original rules in the order have been removed or reduced.