Alcohol-to-go is an example of how our government should function in changing circumstances.

As suggested in this post from last month, it is inappropriate for the governor to continue using an emergency declaration to preserve exceptions to the law.  Emergencies are (or should be) circumstances in which it isn’t possible for ordinary government processes to continue.  We can argue about when that ceased to be the case in the Ocean State, but it’s inarguable that it is not.

The fact that making exceptions to written law is easier under an emergency declaration is not defense, because it is always the case.  The same goes for the fact that it is more difficult to move laws through the legislature.  These are not excuses to discard our system of government; they are evidence that it needs long-standing reform.

So, one of the reasons Governor Dan McKee gave for continuing Raimondo’s emergency decree was that restaurants still needed the flexibility to sell alcohol to go, and the General Assembly has sent him legislation to continue it independent of the emergency:

With a vote in the House today, the General Assembly approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Hanna M. Gallo and Rep. Jacquelyn Baginski to allow any Class B liquor license holders and brewpubs to sell certain amounts of beer, wine and mixed drinks with take-out food order through March 1, 2022. The bill now heads to the governor’s office.

Perhaps McKee had his eye on this bill and was simply giving legislators time to work it through their ordinary system of horse-trading, but that is insufficient justification for defining “emergency” down, which has ongoing consequences in every city and town and will have long-term consequences for our civil rights.  If this was important, the General Assembly could have moved more frequently, and if it’s not important to them, then they should face the consequences.

Respecting a corrupt process for lawmaking is not a reason to corrupt emergency provisions.


Featured image by Charles Unitas on Unsplash.

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