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Call to Action: Senate Bill 4

Updated: May 5, 2022

Update: The Senate shut down amendments to Bill 4 and the bill has returned to Governor Youngkin to be signed without amendments. The Governor can now either sign or veto this bill. Urge Governor Youngkin to pass Senate Bill 4 into law:

Twitter: @GlennYoungkin



A bill moving through the Virginia legislature would limit the governor’s powers in an emergency, but Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s recently proposed amendment would wrangle back the very power the bill is trying to curb.

Senate Bill 4, identical to House Bill 158, would limit the duration of any rule, regulation or order issued by the governor under the Emergency Services and Disaster Law to no more than 45 days. If the General Assembly does not take any action on an emergency order issued by the governor within that 45-day timeframe, the order would expire and the governor would be prohibited from issuing the same or similar order relating to the same emergency.

However, Youngkin’s proposed amendment would allow for the governor to extend an order after 30 days for another 30-day period during which time the General Assembly may be convened to consider action on the order. After 60 days, the governor would be allowed to extend the order yet again for another period of 30 days. If, after 90 days the General Assembly has not taken action for an extension, the governor would finally be prohibited from issuing the same or similar order.

But one crucial provision in the governor’s amendment appears to give him the ability to circumvent this time limitation in emergency situations:“Such limitations on the duration of rules, regulations, or orders issued under this section shall not apply to the Commonwealth of Virginia Emergency Operations Plan.” If the bill including this amendment were to be passed and written into law, it appears limitations meant to curb the governor’s power concerning executive orders would be null and void if he were to implement the Commonwealth of Virginia Emergency Operations Plan. Furthermore, the bill assures the governor the role of Director of Emergency Management with sole discretion to declare an emergency.

The bill would also secure the governor power to “control, restrict, allocate or regulate the use, sale, production and distribution of food, fuel, clothing and other commodities, materials, goods, services and resources under any state or federal emergency services programs.” Current law states executive orders issued by the governor under the Emergency Services and Disaster Law are effective until June 30 following the next regular session of the General Assembly unless an earlier end date is specified.

If you oppose these amendments, make sure to contact your representatives and the governor’s office and ask them to sign Senate Bill 4 as it is, without amending it.

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