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Kemp’s Emergency Powers

On March 16th the Georgia General Assembly granted Governor Kemp his “State of Emergency” under Georgia Law 38-3-51 which will continue “… until the Governor finds that the threat or danger has passed or the emergency or disaster has been dealt with … ” and he calls a special session of the Legislature to cancel it.  His first act was to close all Georgia schools through the end of March.  Which leads one to wonder – what other powers does the Governor have now?

Under the State of Emergency, the Governor can:

  • Assume direct operational control of all civil forces and helpers in the state
  • Seize, take for temporary use, or condemn property for the protection of the public and sell, lend, give, or distribute all or any such property among the inhabitants of the state
  • Suspend any regulatory statute prescribing the procedures for conduct of state business, or the orders, rules, or regulations of any state agency
  • Commandeer or utilize any private property if he finds this necessary
  • Compel a health care facility to provide services or the use of its facility and transfer the management and supervision of the health care facility to the Department of Public Health
  • Direct and compel the evacuation of all or part of the population
  • Control ingress and egress to and from a disaster area, the movement of persons within the area, and the occupancy of premises therein
  • Suspend or limit the sale, dispensing, or transportation of alcoholic beverages
  • Impose a quarantine or a vaccination program.  While the burden of proof is on the state to demonstrate that it is necessary,  these programs “shall not be stayed during the pendency” of any challenge until a verdict is delivered by a judge.

And, as a catch-all, the Governor can “perform and exercise such other functions, powers, and duties as may be deemed necessary.”

We are in Georgia, so fortunately while the Governor can suspend or limit the sale, dispensing, or transportation of “explosives, or combustibles” he is prohibited specifically from applying that power to “firearms or ammunition or any component thereof.”  And if you get in trouble following the State’s edicts, there is this liability exception: “Any individual, partnership, association, or corporation who acts in accordance with an order, rule, or regulation entered by the Governor pursuant to the authority granted by this Code section will not be held liable to any other individual, partnership, association, or corporation by reason thereof in any action seeking legal or equitable relief.”

We are now at the mercy of the State…