BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Louisiana’s Republican-led Legislature spent Tuesday advancing a prime goal in their fall special session: giving themselves more oversight over Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A state Senate judiciary committee passed, without objection, Senate President Page Cortez’s proposal to craft a 10-member legislative panel. Any governor wishing to extend an emergency order would have to consult first with the group — which would include House and Senate health, finance and chamber leaders.
“Not that he can’t extend it, but he has to come explain it to the legislative branch of government and to the chief justice of the [Louisiana] Supreme Court,” said Cortez, who noted his prior work as a high school civics teacher. “There are three branches of government.”
“They all need to know how we’re going to get through this emergency, when it’s going to end and what you’re going to do to that end,” he added.
Republicans claim Edwards has hurt business activity through his seven-month chain of emergency orders, which include occupancy limits at storefronts and public spaces. The governor has defended his moves as virus mitigation measures.
Louisiana law would bar the panel from rejecting a governor’s emergency order outright. However, state legal guidelines already let lawmakers in either the House or Senate overturn an order through a majority-signed petition; neither chamber has gained the 53 signatures needed to do this.
Other Republican lawmakers will present their own measures Wednesday, including those seeking more force against Edwards’ ongoing emergency controls. A House governmental affairs committee will consider GOP-helmed pushes to quash the governor’s — or any future governor’s — orders.