Sen Rick Bennett’s Remarks on the Joint Resolution to End the State of Emergency

Fellow Members of the Senate:

On March 15, 2020 – just 5 days shy of a full year ago – Governor Mills proclaimed a state of emergency.  Since then, she has extended the emergency 11 times.  This in turn has meant effectively surrendering many legislative powers to the executive branch.  This joint resolution, at long last, will end the state of emergency.

But more important, this is not about ending as much as it is about a beginning.  This is about restoring the functioning of our democracy.  And it is critical that we do so.

Our country has seen dark days in our history.  And we’ve seen some over the past months here in Maine and across the nation with the COVID pandemic.

For sensible reasons, in the early days of the pandemic, we relied on robust executive leadership – as we often must during an emergency.

But a central tenet of our fragile democracy is separation of powers.  The Legislature has a unique role in being the ears, the eyes and the voice of the people.  As I think we all will agree there has been a pernicious degradations of our democratic traditions over these past months and indeed over these past few years. 

The continued violation of our doctrine of separation of powers compounds this.  As James Madison wrote in Federalist 51, separation of powers is “admitted on all hands to be essential  to the preservation of liberty.”

We have experienced national emergencies in the past, and we’ve persevered in keeping our democracy functioning.

In World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt provided vigorous leadership but Congress kept meeting, passing laws, debating policy, providing oversight.

Operating in the fashion we have been must be the exception, not the rule.  We cannot shut off democracy because it is inconvenient, because it is easier to let the someone else do it. 

Friends, it’s time to do our jobs as the elected representatives of the people.  The Governor has her job to do.  We have ours.  It’s time to end this state of emergency.

Thank you for your attention.

Mr. President – I ask for the yeas and nays.

Remarks on the Joint Resolution

Senator Rick Bennett

Fellow Members of the Senate:

On March 15, 2020 – just 5 days shy of a full year ago – Governor Mills proclaimed a state of emergency.  Since then, she has extended the emergency 11 times.  This in turn has meant effectively surrendering many legislative powers to the executive branch.  This joint resolution, at long last, will end the state of emergency.

But more important, this is not about ending as much as it is about a beginning.  This is about restoring the functioning of our democracy.  And it is critical that we do so.

Our country has seen dark days in our history.  And we’ve seen some over the past months here in Maine and across the nation with the COVID pandemic.

For sensible reasons, in the early days of the pandemic, we relied on robust executive leadership – as we often must during an emergency.

But a central tenet of our fragile democracy is separation of powers.  The Legislature has a unique role in being the ears, the eyes and the voice of the people.  As I think we all will agree there has been a pernicious degradations of our democratic traditions over these past months and indeed over these past few years. 

The continued violation of our doctrine of separation of powers compounds this.  As James Madison wrote in Federalist 51, separation of powers is “admitted on all hands to be essential  to the preservation of liberty.”

We have experienced national emergencies in the past, and we’ve persevered in keeping our democracy functioning.

In World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt provided vigorous leadership but Congress kept meeting, passing laws, debating policy, providing oversight.

Operating in the fashion we have been must be the exception, not the rule.  We cannot shut off democracy because it is inconvenient, because it is easier to let the someone else do it. 

Friends, it’s time to do our jobs as the elected representatives of the people.  The Governor has her job to do.  We have ours.  It’s time to end this state of emergency.

Thank you for your attention.

Mr. President – I ask for the yeas and nays.

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