State Senate Bill Would Lessen Gov’s Power Over Emergency Elections [VIDEO]
State Senator Sharon Hewitt talks about her her legislation to limit the Governor's authority over elections during a declared emergency.
Hewitt, a Republican from Slidell, sponsored and led the charge to pass Senate Bill 20. The legislation first called for a commission - a group that would have included the governor - to agree to the Secretary of State’s emergency plan. The state legislature would then have final approval.
But after some opposition to the original plan, Hewitt then agreed to allow a governor's veto, even after the plan was approved by the legislative elections oversight committees, then both the House and Senate. In that case, the governor would have five days to sign or veto. In case of a veto, legislators could then override with a two-thirds vote.
"Current law does provide for the Secretary of State to say, 'I cannot conduct an election in this environment," the Senator says, referring to the current or any declared statewide emergency. "Currently, both, or either, or of these legislative committees, or the full legislature, or the Governor, could kill his plan.at any step of the process. We always want the legislature to be able to control policy and we want the chief elections officer to be able to propose the very best plan."
"Part of our issue was that this whole process took too much time," Hewitt says, explaining why her bill would streamline the process. "Any one entity that didn't agree with the plan, then the Secretary of State had to go back to the drawing board and start all over."