(Catherine Mortensen) – The governors of Texas and Mississippi both announced this week they would be lifting their states’ mask mandates and rolling back many of their Covid-19 health mandates. This is part of a growing movement across the country from lawmakers, governors, and citizens to curtail emergency orders that have robbed Americans of individual liberties and freedoms for nearly a year.
In New York state, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announced the legislature is passing legislation repealing emergency powers granted to Gov. Cuomo last year at the start of the pandemic. Lawmakers say the legislation will allow current directives pertaining to preserving public health to continue.
“I think everyone understands where we were back in March and where we are now. We certainly see the need for a quick response but also want to move toward a system of increased oversight, and review. The public deserves to have checks and balances. Our proposal would create a system with increased input while at the same time ensuring New Yorkers continue to be protected,” Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins said.
Speaker Heastie says, “a year into the pandemic, and as New Yorkers receive the vaccine, the temporary emergency powers have served their purpose – it is time for them to be repealed.”
Other states, including Montana and Iowa, have also lifted their mask mandates. In Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker recently announced that restaurants in the state would no longer have to adhere to capacity limits, although other restrictions, such as its mask mandate, are still in place.
South Dakota and Florida lifted mask mandates in the Fall.
In Pennsylvania, two statewide ballot initiatives seek to amend the state constitution to limit Gov. Tom Wolf’s emergency powers. Voters will see the two questions — which seek approval for changes to the state constitution — on the May 18 primary election ballot.
One question involves giving the General Assembly ability to end or extend a declared emergency without involvement of the governor. The other would end a declared emergency after 21 days unless extended by the General Assembly.
Under current law, the governor’s disaster declarations last for 90 days. He can extend them without consulting the General Assembly. Pennsylvania is operating under two disaster declarations.
Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning applauds these efforts to rein in emergency orders and restore authority to the state legislatures.
“Fully reopening our state economies is the key to continuing the Trump economic revival and makes the idea of spending $1.9 trillion more money on pork, additional stimulus, state and union bailouts and incentivizing long-term unemployment seem almost crazy,” Manning said. “The truth is states like South Dakota, which are open, have an unemployment rate lower today than in February of 2020.”
Manning said having the federal government and the rest of the states join Texas in declaring victory over the China virus and reopening would be the best stimulus possible. “The emergency is over and Congress’ excuse to spend trillions beyond their already bloated, deficit-ridden budget needs to end along with it.”
Attorney Thomas Renz of Ohio is leading a national grassroots effort to challenge Covid emergency orders. He recently testified in the Ohio legislature in support of a measure to restrict the governor’s executive powers.
“We’re starting to see some state lawmakers grow more of a spine,” Renz said. “We have a lot of good ones, but also a lot of bad ones who don’t have the courage to stand for anything. It’s whichever way the political winds are blowing and whoever is funding them best.”
Renz’s grassroots group, Make Americans Free Again, seeks to put citizens back in charge. “We’re no one special. But that’s the greatness of America, you don’t have to be someone special to fight back.” He encourages activism at the local level, within your circle of friends and neighbors.
“Get people friends, family, two, three, five, 10 people, whatever you can get, get them together, have a meeting without masks, have a meeting openly, talk to each other. Pretend you’re human beings again. Once you start organizing and spreading the word, we’re looking at from there, we want you to start taking action steps.”
Renz said one of the easiest steps a group can take is part of the Small Business Rescue Program. “All the small businesses that are being crushed, get your group together and plan to go to a single restaurant or a single small business and spend some money there.”
Based on the growing movement to restore freedom, it appears Renz’s campaign, which he began in Ohio is spreading across the country.
Catherine Mortensen is Vice President of Communications at Americans for Limited Government.