Martin Fey: Malloy’s executive orders are unlawful [Norwich Bulletin]

February 28, 2012

Article as it appeared in the Norwich Bulletin on February 24, 2012

Complaining that a president or governor is acting like a king is a time-honored American tradition.
The charge is usually leveled by partisans who are out of power; the same people applaud identical abuses when one of their own clique assumes the throne.

There are times, however, when the charge needs to be taken seriously. Such is the case with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s Executive Orders 9 and 10 — controversial measures granting union status to day care and home personal care workers if they are paid even partially with state money.

The Legislature held hearings on a bill last summer to effectively accomplish the same. After hours of testimony by supporters and vocal opponents, the committee scuttled the idea.

But a few months later, Malloy issued the executive orders, and with the stroke of his pen, unionization was accomplished. He even ordered that workers’ votes be cast openly instead of by secret ballot, making union intimidation of the reluctant easier.

Malloy’s explanation? Caregivers work hard at important jobs and deserve more pay and benefits.
But terms of employment should be negotiated between client and caregiver, not by imperial fiat.

Some clients simply need a helping hand, while others need intensive, 24-hour home care. The market should determine the value of the services provided and who should provide them.

Executive orders are legal if issued to implement laws passed by the Legislature, and illegal if used to make law. That’s why President Harry S. Truman’s 1952 executive order placing the steel mills under federal control was declared invalid by the U.S. Supreme Court.

So how did lawmakers react to Malloy unlawfully usurping their powers? With virtual silence, except for the loud protests from state Sen. Joe Markley, R-Southington. The Democratic majority was no doubt pleased because its union contributors were rewarded through a back channel.

This is not just a Democratic disease.

When Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney declared he’d invalidate Obamacare on his first day in office by issuing blanket waivers to all 50 states, my heart applauded but my political principles protested. Right and left should both condemn executive order abuse as a danger to separation of powers.

Malloy’s Executive Orders 9 and 10 are unlawful and, like Truman’s steel mill takeover, need to be challenged in court and invalidated.

Martin Fey is a former journalist and a 35-year resident of Putnam.

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