As our nation continues to struggle to address the COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans have called for greater action by President Trump and the federal government. Suggestions have ranged from nation-wide shutdowns to implementation of martial law and more. Even state governors have complained about the lack of resources that the federal government has given them.
But Nikki Haley, former governor of South Carolina, champions the role of governors in this crisis. In her recent piece in The New York Times, Haley says:
In today’s crisis, governors from both parties have exemplified strong leadership. They know their residents and their state’s needs better than anyone in the federal government. In the state-federal partnership, governors are in the best position to control what happens on the ground, better than any president could be.
State governors are in the best position to address the crisis, and many have done so by relaxing licensing regulations for some essential personnel. Governors from Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Maine, among many others, have allowed interstate reciprocity for medical professionals and are encouraging telemedicine within the state and by out-of-state medical professionals.
Governors have also worked to provide more childcare to support workers during this time. Governor Lamont of Connecticut authorized “the Commissioner of Early Childhood to waive certain licensing and other requirements to maintain and increase the availability of childcare.” Governor Ricketts of Nebraska ordered easing “licensing requirements to open and operate a temporary, non-residential child care.” The governors of New York and Tennessee ordered similar relaxation of childcare licensing requirements.
These are only a few of the measures taken by governors to address the specific problems that their states face.
Instead of calling for untailored sweeping action by the federal government, we should appreciate the strength that the federalism of our states provides. As Haley says:
Our Constitution has it right: Keep control and decision making close to the people. We are seeing that play out in every state today. We face a painful challenge, but we will get through it. When we do, we will look back and see that governors rose to meet the challenge, and they did it best when Washington did not impose too much on them.