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As he prepares to ease restrictions, Ige pushes back against efforts to limit his emergency powers

Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 12:04 AM HST|Updated: Nov. 23, 2021 at 4:42 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Gov. David Ige says he will be easing restrictions this week with a new emergency proclamation, but is discouraging lawmakers from limiting his emergency powers.

The latest pandemic emergency proclamation expires Nov. 30 — 20 months after the governor’s first one.

Lawmakers say it’s gone on too long, but Ige argues Hawaii is doing better than most states because of the restrictions he’s kept in place.

“I would say this: Virtually every single state that tied the governor’s hands has regretted it,” said Ige.

The governor did not elaborate in an interview with the Star-Advertiser on Monday.

Hawaii currently has the lowest new case rate in the country and the second-best vaccination rate.

House Minority Leader Val Okimotoapplauds Ige’s efforts to minimize the overall health impacts, but says there are other factors to consider.

”No, I don’t think that we’ve made the best decisions overall,” said Okimoto. “And it’s hard to say we have come out on top when you want to compare just that (us to other states). I think we should look at other statistics. How has the education system favored? How has the economy fared?” I feel that we need to use common sense, listen to our community and move forward.”

The National Conference of State Legislatures says at least 12 states have curbed their governor’s powers during the pandemic — both Republican and Democrat.

House Speaker Scott Saiki has tried before to limit executive powers and says the pandemic is a good example of why his bill should pass next year.

“I’ve actually heard from different kinds of people who have basically told me that, you know, unfortunately, they don’t really keep track of the orders anymore, because there are so many orders,” said Saiki.

But the governor cautions that long after he’s gone, another emergency will require decisive action that only the state’s chief executive can provide.

“I do think that it’s important that the legislature not overreach and tie the hands of the executive,” said Ige. “Oftentimes, it’s very difficult to predict what areas of law will need to be suspended or what actions will need to take.”

The governor did not give any hints on what’s included in the next emergency proclamation, but he does plan to keep the indoor mask mandate and Safe Travels program.

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