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Coronavirus 2020

Local governments all over the state are adopting emergency measures to combat the COVID-19 outbreak – but not all of them are making their emergency declarations and ordinances easily accessible. 

State law allows local governments to pass emergency ordinances in one meeting without giving the public any notice or a chance to read them first, and a number of local governments’ emergency actions are either incompletely published, difficult to find – or not published at all, leaving citizens in the dark on what their local officials actually enacted. 

Frequently, the emergency declarations and ordinances contain sweeping, extensive measures that were written to apply to any emergency situation, are often not defined, and are not tailored to stopping the spread of the virus. In addition they often present potential threats to civil rights and expand the power of local officials, in some cases to an almost unlimited degree. 

Moreover, the declarations often fail to mention the additional emergency powers that are triggered during emergencies, which can only be seen by searching through the local code. 

The best approach is for citizens to contact their local officials – city and county – directly to insist that orders and ordinances all be posted in their entirety, and that officials answer and explain what these powers mean.

Every city and county differs in what they allow during a state of emergency, but here’s a sampling of the powers from an analysis of several cities and counties all over the state.

This is despite the fact that gun stores are typically closed by then anyway, and under the terms of the curfew, citizens aren’t even supposed to be out after 11:00pm. 

These bans apply automatically every time a curfew is imposed regardless of the reason.

Parts of this local law appear to conflict with state law, which prohibits local governments from regulating gun and ammunition possession, transfers, or transportation (among other things), yet numerous local governments contain similar provisions in their codes of laws.

These are examples of the emergency powers embedded in local laws all over the state. Citizens who wish to know exactly what their local officials are empowered to do and what those powers mean should contact their city and county officials directly and demand that they post all emergency ordinances, declarations and orders and fully explain all their emergency powers.

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