Wyoming is the second state to kill a measure critics say would give unprecedented power to governors during times of emergency, though most states are still considering some version of the proposal.
The bill, known as the “Model State Emergency Health Powers Act,” which authors say was written to give states more power to quickly deal with terrorist attacks and other disasters, has also been defeated in Mississippi, as WorldNetDaily reported Wednesday.
However, according to the American Legislative Exchange Council, a small-government advocacy group made up of about one-third of all state legislators, 34 states are still either considering the measure or are planning to consider it.
An ALEC summary of the bill claims it gives governors unprecedented authority in the event of a terrorist attack or other threat to the public health. WND reported Jan. 10 that the measure grants governors the power to order the collection of all data and records on citizens, ban firearms, take control of private property and quarantine entire cities. And critics say it is an outright and unnecessary threat to civil liberties.
Two states, however, have passed some version of the bill – South Dakota and New Mexico. Meanwhile, Minnesota “is very close to passing the closest version of the bill that we have seen,” though “it’s still been watered down considerably to require some studying of certain aspects,” Jennifer King, director of the Health and Human Services task force for ALEC, told WND this week.
She added that most of the 34 states considering the bill are looking at a “watered down” version of the original, which she describes as a “positive trend.”
Observers in Wyoming said that state’s version of the bill was killed by an 8-1 vote March 6 in a House committee, after passing the Senate.
“The two big objections to the bill was this ‘Incident Commander,’ who sounded like ‘Reverend’ Fortunato if you’ve been reading the ‘Left Behind’ book series, and the fact that the bill opens with a statement that no one would be vaccinated against their will [but] concludes with the fact that if need be, everyone will be vaccinated with no exceptions,” Robert Rule, owner of several radio stations across Wyoming, told WND.
“What this means is that this bill will go to the floor with a ‘do not pass’ recommendation from the committee,” said Don Wegner, of Hillsdale. “This carries a great deal of weight, and it is highly unlikely that it will go any further.”
ALEC is tracking the progress of the bill through the states on its website.
“We should see a really hard push [in many states] in the next few weeks,” King said.
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