Most states give their governors extraordinary powers in an emergency to protect the public’s health and safety when there is no time for legislative action. These emergency powers may be crucial in uncertain times, including pandemics, but their use must be time-limited and respectful of constitutional rights.

Unlimited, dictatorial rule cannot be allowed to continue indefinitely.

PLF is working with legislatures and in courtrooms across the country to place safeguards on emergency powers and restore constitutional government.

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PLF is working with legislatures and in courtrooms across the country to place safeguards on emergency powers and restore constitutional government.

State Emergency Powers Statutes

Read more on PLF’s Recommendations for Principled Reform

June 22, 2021 | By DANIEL DEW

The Detroit News: Michigan can learn from emergency powers battles in other states

The pandemic is subsiding in America. Masks are coming off. People are gathering. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

June 21, 2021 | By GLENN ROPER

The Hill: Yes, we should follow the science, but who should make the decisions?

“Follow the science” has been a frequent refrain throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. And who can disagree with that simple slogan? After all, science is perhaps our best tool for understanding and c…

June 2, 2021 | By DILLON CHEPP

The Hill: Governors can protect civil liberties, too

Governors have a limited but crucial role to play in the legislative process by choosing which bills to sign and which ones to veto. Some of the decisions made by Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte this term…

May 21, 2021 | By JESSICA THOMPSON

Carolina Journal: Why we’re still fighting Gov. Cooper

Crystal Waldron and Club 519 were shuttered for almost a year due to economic favoritism. She suffered through six months of discriminatory treatment — watching former customers have drinks at her d…

January 18, 2022 | By DANIEL ORTNER

Issues & Insights: Cuomo’s many abuses show why the separation of powers matter

During the COVID-19 pandemic, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was breathlessly heralded as “the politician of the moment” and the “authoritative voice in the crisis.” His press briefings…

January 10, 2022 | By TODD GAZIANO

The Hill: Congressional action shows OSHA vaccine mandate is a bald-faced power grab

Presidents of both parties wrongly have expanded the unilateral executive policy playbook, but President Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are still teaching a master class in unaccounta…

December 13, 2021 | By LUKE WAKE

The Hill: When a president’s impatience supersedes freedom

When President Biden announced that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) would impose a national vaccine mandate on employers, he said his “patience [was] wearing thin” with th…

November 26, 2021 | By JESSICA THOMPSON

Carolina Journal: Emergency powers reforms are a big win for North Carolinians

Last week, the North Carolina General Assembly passed, and Gov. Roy Cooper signed, a budget bill that was striking for several reasons, including amendments to the Emergency Management Act (EMA) that …

January 18, 2022 | By DANIEL ORTNER

Issues & Insights: Cuomo’s many abuses show why the separation of powers matters

During the COVID-19 pandemic, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was breathlessly heralded as “the politician of the moment” and the “authoritative voice in the crisis.” His press briefings…

June 20, 2022 | By DANIEL ORTNER

The Hill: Rein in the governors

September 17, 2021 | By JAMES BURLING

The crisis exception to the Constitution?

When a great crisis visits the nation, the niceties of constitutionally protected rights must take a holiday. Only later, once the crisis has resolved, can we go about deciding which rights should be fully restored, and which rights should be modified to meet the new circumstances of a post-crisis world. Rights, after all, must give …

September 14, 2021 | By DANIEL WOISLAW

ADU reform: what good is a law if it’s not enforced?

The California legislature has passed revolutionary legislation in the past few years that makes it easier for residents to build additional housing in the form of accessory dwelling units (ADUs), more recognizable to some as granny flats, basement apartments, or small backyard cottages. These new reforms, which remove costly and complicated barrie …

July 27, 2021 | By STEVEN D. ANDERSON

As pandemic subsides, why are governors still exercising “emergency powers”?

As the COVID-19 pandemic gradually recedes from the highs we saw in 2020, we should carefully reflect on what the past 15 months of a public health emergency have taught us. As a longtime advocate for individual liberty and limited government, here’s the principal lesson I take from our pandemic experience: The separation of governmental …

June 17, 2021 | By KYLE GRIESINGER

The death knell: How Kentucky’s governor’s abuse of executive power threw Goodwood Brewing in a tailspin

Located in downtown Louisville, Goodwood Brewing Company is one of the largest breweries in Kentucky. In 2019, it produced some 10,000 barrels (248,000 pints) of beer for sale in its taprooms and for distribution to 16 states. In March of 2020, the state forced Goodwood Brewery to close its doors for on-site consumption when the …

June 02, 2021 | By DANIEL DEW

As the world opens back up, emergency powers reform still matters

As the country continues to re-open after more than a year of living under COVID emergency orders, it may be tempting to ignore further calls to restrict executive overreach. But we must be vigilant in upholding our system of checks and balances before the next national crisis comes our way. Many will chalk up the …

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