Olivia Hille headshot

The North Carolina legislature is once again seeking to minimize Gov. Roy Cooper’s powers. House Bill 264, the Emergency Powers Accountability Act, would make it so the governor would need permission from other party officials to declare a state of emergency if passed. This comes from the discontent many Republican politicians have expressed over the prolonged school closures and business limitations during the pandemic. The bill has to be discussed with one more committee before reaching the House floor of our state legislature to then be discussed. 

This does not come as a shock. With North Carolina having a very Republican legislative body, it is not surprising this isn’t the first time a bill like this has appeared and has had to be vetoed by Gov. Cooper. While it is reasonable to want to have other opinions and options work out, it is worrisome what would happen if this bill was installed.

Looking at the facts, Roy Cooper has had over 60 executive orders related to COVID-19 since March 10, 2020, when the first state of emergency was issued. These executive orders, ranging from moratoriums on evictions to making property available for aid during this health crisis for schools and health departments to better serve the citizens of North Carolina, are reasonable, sound and necessary considering the circumstances that we are in. 

It is my worry, as a student and a citizen of the state for more than 21 years, that this bill will lead the way for Republicans to prioritize economics and protect the wealthy rather than human rights. If we were to open businesses and schools to full capacity, there would be no stopping this health crisis. Not only would many more people get sick and die, it would become more and more difficult to vaccinate those in the community due to rapid mutation from the virus, which would spread exponentially faster without restrictions. As our state creeps closer to 1 million total cases since last March, this push to end the COVID-19 restrictions is very alarming. 

No, no one likes sitting inside all the time or being limited to what we can and cannot do. However, it seems as if the anger of the pandemic has caused an exponential amount of fingers to be pointed, and those who are pointing fingers are using their political power to try to get what they want. I can guarantee that if this bill is passed, there will be no end to this mayhem, to this pain that has plagued our communities, at least not for a while. If you truly and deeply love your country, you will respect science and take time to understand what is going on in our nation. 

As students, we are in an awkward situation. We didn't come into college thinking we would be fully online, and that's not what we signed up to do either. Many of us want to get back into the classroom and learn in our preferred environment. However, my worry is if students are made to go back into in-person courses before there is enough immunity and less cases, we will continue to suffer educationally and economically. NC State has continuously been on top of this situation and looked out for the students and staff, but that will mean nothing if it only pertains to the borders of our campus.

Essentially, the push to limit the governor's powers with this bill shows the lack of attention and care many of our lawmakers have for their voters. It is the job of every lawmaker to make sure their actions, which occur due to the power we grant them, should only be used to aid others. Wanting to limit the head of our state government in a time or crisis shows partisanship from science. Simply put, it is prioritization of monetary gain over the evitable loss of human life.

This bill not only shows the partisanship that riddles our legislature, but also our state. Many of us have probably taken a few biology courses and understand what is happening around us are facts. I urge my fellow students to make it clear and simple to our legislature that limiting the powers of the governor due to anger over the schools and businesses closing is not only very disingenuous towards the citizens of North Carolina, but also clearly paints a picture that money is more important than individual humans. If I may say, that is not very “pro-life.”