PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Rhode Island governors have issued 170 executive orders since March 2020, more than any other New England state, a Target 12 review has found.

Former Gov. Gina Raimondo issued 128 between March 2020 and March 2021, while Governor Dan McKee has signed 42 since he was sworn in on March 2, 2021, according to the office of the governor’s website.

During a state of emergency, governors often turn to executive orders, and the coronavirus pandemic was no exception.

But a Target 12 analysis of The Council of State Governments’ data shows Rhode Island’s governors have used those special powers much more than most.

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Connecticut has the second-most executive orders since March 2020, followed by Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont.

During that timespan, Rhode Island has had 53 more executive orders than Connecticut.

But it’s important to note Rhode Island’s executive orders expire every 30 days and have to be renewed with another order, whereas Connecticut’s don’t expire unless a date is specifically cited in the order.

Rhode Island House Minority Leader Blake Filippi said executive orders should be used sparingly.

“To regulate our private lives – including how we worship, how we exercise our First Amendment ability to associate – is offensive, and it should only be used in extreme circumstances,” Filippi said.

“You’ve got to remember: An executive order is essentially the governor writing a law instead of the general assembly passing one,” he said.

Filippi, the top House Republican in Rhode Island, said the issue of executive orders begs a larger question.

“Do we need to be in a state of emergency now?” Filippi asked. “I think the answer is clearly no.”

Tolly Taylor (ttaylor@wpri.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter for 12 News. Connect with him on Twitter and on Facebook