Upstate lawmakers push to limit governor’s emergency powers


GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)- Three Upstate lawmakers want to take action because they believe the governor isn’t moving fast enough to re-open the economy. Wednesday, Rep. Josiah Magnuson (R-Spartanburg), Rep. Jonathon Hill (R-Anderson), and Rep. Stewart Jones (R-Greenwood & Laurens) sent a letter to the S.C. Speaker of the House, asking him to reconvene the General Assembly immediately. Their goal is to re-open the economy.

“We need to reopen the businesses,” Magnuson said. “We feel like the human impact is very great. This isn’t just about you know, economics. This is about people.”

At issue is Gov. McMaster’s declaration of a state of emergency. According to an opinion from the S.C. Attorney General’s office, the governor can take emergency steps unless the legislature takes action. Taking action is what the authors of the letter want to do.

“Ultimately, that’s what we’ve got to do to stop the governor’s executive orders,” Jones said. “They have just snowballed and just have continued.”

Jones said he thinks the governor shouldn’t have broad emergency powers right now.

“I think ultimately you got to leave it in the hands of people out there to make these decisions,” he said. “The government cant make these decisions for everybody.”

Hill said he dosen’t think the government should decide which businesses are allowed to open.

“I really have to ask…who are we to decide what’s essential and non-essential? To every single person who has a paycheck, that paycheck is essential,” he said.

In the letter, the representatives wrote, “more South Carolinians are being hurt by the government-imposed shutdown than by Covid-19 itself.”

Health experts have previously told 7News that relaxing social distancing measures could lead to more cases of Covid-19.

The Speaker of the House, Jay Lucas, announced Thursday that he is calling the legislature back on May 12, which is when the current state of emergency issued by the governor expires.

In a statement, a spokesperson for governor McMaster said, “Nobody wants to open the rest of South Carolina’s businesses more than Governor McMaster does. That’s why he created accelerateSC, which is working every day to determine how to open those businesses as quickly and as safely as possible.”

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