EXCLUSIVE

Does the power of the executive order go too far?

Labor Day Freedom Rally seeks legislative reform

Posted 8/28/20

The abiding by and understanding of myriad executive orders — and associated civil and criminal penalties — has become a part of the day-to-day lives of both Arizona residents and U.S. citizens from sea to shining sea.

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EXCLUSIVE

Does the power of the executive order go too far?

Labor Day Freedom Rally seeks legislative reform

Bill Crawford, owner of Basic Training in downtown Scottsdale, at left, with his wife Debbie, contend checks and balances ought to be installed by the Arizona Legislature for when executive orders are proclaimed.
Bill Crawford, owner of Basic Training in downtown Scottsdale, at left, with his wife Debbie, contend checks and balances ought to be installed by the Arizona Legislature for when executive orders are proclaimed.
Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey
Posted

The abiding by and understanding of myriad executive orders — and associated civil and criminal penalties — has become a part of the day-to-day lives of both Arizona residents and U.S. citizens from sea to shining sea.

Depending on who you ask, the most recent executive orders emanating from the Office of the Arizona Governor have certainly impacted a once-buzzing local economy by decree and defined what businesses were and were not deemed “essential.”

One common understanding, however, is those executive orders put in place by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has stopped the widespread spread of COVID-19 throughout Arizona and saved countless lives.

In addition, the governor’s office provides up-to-date information online, in real-time about both public health guidelines and executive order clarifications at azgovernor.gov.

Mask mandates and mandatory closures spanned weeks in Arizona forcing hundreds of businesses to shutter, the federal government issuing stimulus dollars and Paycheck Protection Program loans to keep those holding on afloat.

Today a groundswell of Arizona business owners, elected leaders and law enforcement officials say allowing one person to dictate law is against both the Arizona Constitution and U.S. Constitution.

No matter the state of the reopening of economic affairs in cities across the state, the Arizona Capitol this Labor Day will be the site for a rally intended to spur a change in how emergency legislative powers ought to emerge from the capitol.

A control to executive powers?

Bill Crawford, who owns Basic Training, a gym at 4390 N. Miller Road in downtown Scottsdale, is spearheading the rally because, he says, if he doesn’t do it, it won’t get done.

“Last weekend, I was sitting around my office here and I was planning a little adventure for my wife and I started to think about what Labor Day means,” he said recalling a time when, under Arizona executive order, his business was unable to open due to public health concerns surrounding the transmission of COVID-19.

“It kind of hit me hard: Why are we celebrating a day for workers when there are so many people who are not able to go to work right now. It was just a confluence of issues. I think a lot of my recent comments, I had already laid some track.”

Truth be told, Mr. Crawford explained the morning of Aug. 24, his gym had just been cleared by the city of Scottsdale to reopen the following day.

The gym is open today: Friday, Aug. 28, 2020.

“It just so now happens that my business has been approved to be reopened,” he said. “That is great, if I just cease and desist — it was just all about me. But I have to keep this going because it is not just about me. There are people now who are expecting me to carry this.”

For Mr. Crawford, it is the principle of the thing.

“Should I be kissing the ring? They should have never taken it away from me — this is our constitutional right, this is our business,” he said with an impassioned plea.

“The message is: Keep your hands off the private sector and keep your hands off of private businesses. These business owners, most but not all, are totally capable of making the right decisions and taking care of themselves and their customers.”

The weight of the executive order

To better understand the process of the behind-the-scenes process that occurs when the Office of the Arizona Governor opts to consider mandates when a state of emergency is declared, Independent Newsmedia spoke with former Gov. Jan Brewer.

“Regarding executive orders, it is always important to understand the need and why it should be done by executive order,” she explained. “Lots of table discussion is done with staff and under certain circumstances, whoever is being impacted is consulted.”

Even today, Ms. Brewer acknowledges no executive order mandate is taken lightly.

“Generally, most issues can go through the legislative process for debate,” she said noting when a state of emergency is declared. “There are times when it is not possible and it needs to be put into place immediately for the benefit of the state. It is always wise to have process and policy reviewed.”

Jerry Sheridan, candidate for the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, contends the issue is as black and white as the letter of the law.

“Elected officials don’t have the power to make law,” he said. “That comes under the purview of the legislative branch of government, so the sheriff as an elected official gets his power from the people through the Arizona Constitution, I do consider the office of sheriff to be a constitutional office.”

Mr. Sheridan contends the lawmaking process is a collaborative one — any other effort is against the Constitution.

“And, so the mandates by the governors, the mayors — even the president are therefore unenforceable,” he said of the power of the Constitution. “That is basically my opinion on it and that will be my message when I speak. The sheriff is given the responsibility to protect and preserve the Constitution and the laws of the state of Arizona and the Arizona Constitution. I don’t know how else I can say that.”

In The Know:
The power of the executive order under state law:
Empowered through Arizona Revised Statute 26-303, the Office of the Arizona Governor, during a declared state of emergency has the power to:
1. The governor shall have complete authority over all agencies of the state government and the right to exercise, within the area designated, all police power vested in the state by the constitution and laws of this state in order to effectuate the purposes of this chapter.
2. The governor may direct all agencies of the state government to utilize and employ state personnel, equipment and facilities for the performance of any and all activities designed to prevent or alleviate actual and threatened damage due to the emergency. The governor may direct such agencies to provide supplemental services and equipment to political subdivisions to restore any services in order to provide for the health and safety of the citizens of the affected area.
F. The powers granted the governor by this chapter with respect to a state of emergency shall terminate when the state of emergency has been terminated by proclamation of the governor or by concurrent resolution of the Legislature declaring it at an end.
G. No provision of this chapter may limit, modify or abridge the powers vested in the governor under the constitution or statutes of this state.
H. If authorized by the governor, the adjutant general has the powers prescribed in this subsection. If, in the judgment of the adjutant general, circumstances described in section 26-301, paragraph 15 exist, the adjutant general may:
1. Exercise those powers pursuant to statute and gubernatorial authorization following the proclamation of a state of emergency under subsection D of this section.
2. Incur obligations of one hundred thousand dollars or less for each emergency or contingency payable pursuant to section 35-192 as though a state of emergency had been proclaimed under subsection D of this section.
I. The powers exercised by the adjutant general pursuant to subsection H of this section expire seventy-two hours after the adjutant general makes a determination under subsection H of this section.
J. Pursuant to the second amendment of the United States Constitution and article II, section 26, Constitution of Arizona, and notwithstanding any other law, the emergency powers of the governor, the adjutant general or any other official or person shall not be construed to allow the imposition of additional restrictions on the lawful possession, transfer, sale, transportation, carrying, storage, display or use of firearms or ammunition or firearms or ammunition components.
K. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the governor, the adjutant general or other officials responding to an emergency from ordering the reasonable movement of stores of ammunition out of the way of dangerous conditions.
Source: ARS 26-303

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