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Gov. Newsom won't lift COVID-19 state of emergency order, here's what that means

Despite many coronavirus restrictions being lifted on June 15, California Governor Gavin Newsom plans to keep the state of emergency order in place.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The coronavirus pandemic may be nearing its end. Still, California Governor Gavin Newsom said Friday the state of emergency order wouldn't end when the state lifts many of the coronavirus restrictions on June 15.

"We're still in a state of emergency; this disease has not been extinguished. It's not vanished. It's not taking the summer months off," Newsom said.

Newsom issued the order on March 4, 2020, and since then, he has been able to issue a multitude of executive orders affecting many aspects of the everyday lives of Californians.

"Declaring a state of emergency has allowed the governor to exercise additional authority and to pass executive orders that basically carry the force of law that without having to go to the state legislature," University of California, Davis, political science lecturer Dr. Isaac Hale said. "He's been able to act unilaterally on things like eviction, halting, allowing marriages to be conducted online, extending tax collection deadlines, suspending school deadlines, changing the rules for public meetings."

Newsom said the order is still needed because of the continued spread of the coronavirus and the remaining 12 million adults who have yet to receive at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. There are also millions of children under the age of 12 in California who are not eligible to receive a vaccine.

Hale explained that in keeping the executive order, the everyday lives of Californians, by in large, might not be affected. Newsom could still create a new mask mandate if the COVID-19 situation changes after June 15 or any other pandemic-related lockdowns and reopenings.

"But I think at the end of the day, for most Californians, they won't be able to tell the difference between the governor doing these kinds of policies and the governor and the democratic legislature doing these kinds of policies, but for his opponents in the state legislature, that's all the difference in the world," Hale said.

Newsom could end the state of emergency order whenever he wants to. The state legislature could also end the state of emergency order. But Hale said with the looming recall, it is unlikely either will remove the order soon.

"There are good reasons to expect that the Democratic-controlled legislature is unlikely to be reining in Newsom, especially as he's heading into a recall which the democratic party would very much like him to win," Hale shared.

According to Hale, the continuance of the state of emergency boils down to what kind of government we in California want.

"Do we want decisive executive leaders were able to act unilaterally in times of crisis and emergency, on the one hand? Or, do we want a strong system of checks and balances where the legislature is the primary policymaking actor?" Hale said.

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