CS/CS/SB 2006 (Burgess) is a comprehensive bill that amends the State Emergency Management Act to address the threat posed by pandemics or other public health emergencies and imposes restrictions on the scope, duration and impact of local government emergency orders.
The bill defines a local government “significant emergency order” as an order or ordinance issued or enacted by a political subdivision (city or county) in response to an emergency that limits the rights or liberties of individuals or businesses within the political subdivision. The bill specifically excludes hurricane or other weather-related orders from the definition of significant emergency order, which leaves all other types of emergencies or disasters subject to the restrictions and parameters of the bill.
The bill requires that any significant emergency order issued by a local government must be narrowly tailored to serve a compelling public health or safety purpose; must be limited in duration, applicability, and scope to reduce any infringement on individual liberty to the greatest extent possible. Under the provisions of the bill, a significant emergency order automatically expires seven days after issuance and may be extended, as necessary, in seven-day increments but only for a total duration of 42 days. If a significant emergency order expires, the local government cannot issue a “substantially similar” order. If the governor determines that a significant emergency order unnecessarily restricts an individual's rights or liberties, the governor can invalidate the order adopted by the local government. Additionally, the bill provides that an order issued by a local government that imposes a curfew restricting travel or movement must allow persons to travel to their places of employment and to return to their residences after their work has concluded. CS/CS/SB 2006 also requires all emergency orders issued by local governments to be posted to a dedicated website accessible through a conspicuous link on the local government’s webpage.
Any state agency or political subdivision that accepts assistance in aid of for emergency prevention, management, mitigation, preparedness, response or recovery must submit to the Legislature, in advance, a detailed spending plan for the money. When this pre-submission of the agency’s plan is not possible, a state agency or political subdivision must nonetheless submit the plan no later than 30 days after the initiation of any expenditures and for each additional 30 days of the emergency as long as funds continue to be disbursed. For emergency response activities, including emergency response that includes emergency protective measures or debris removal, the bill requires that the agency or political subdivision must submit to the Legislature a report of all expenditures in aggregate categories incurred in the emergency response no later than 30 days after the expenditure is incurred. The entity must also submit a copy of any project worksheet submitted to Federal Emergency Management Agency within seven days of when the document is submitted to FEMA. The bill also prohibits governmental entities and private businesses from requiring proof of vaccination and imposes fines of up to $5,000 per incident for any violation. CS/CS/SB 2006 passed the Senate (27-9) and the House (76-40). The bill was approved by the governor. (Dudley)