The Pennsylvania state legislature passed a resolution Tuesday to override Gov. Tom Wolf’s coronavirus disaster declaration and direct the governor to “issue an executive order or proclamation ending the state of disaster emergency.”
The Republican-controlled General Assembly voted on the resolution to end the declaration issued on March 6 and renewed on June 3. Republicans were joined by some Democrats in passing the measure.
“The Senate voted on a resolution to end Governor Wolf’s statewide shut down, which has been hurting families and doing irreparable harm to employers,” Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman tweeted.
“People need to have the freedom to return to normalcy and decide for themselves the level of engagement with society that they are comfortable doing. We have educated ourselves. The public has guidelines. Our employers have guidelines.”
It is time to allow people the freedom to decide for themselves – to control their actions and decisions.#OpenPA
— Senator Jake Corman (@JakeCorman) June 10, 2020
Lawmakers say that the governor does not have the power to veto the resolution, but Wolf’s office says that he will veto the bill once it is presented to him, the Patriot-News reported.
“Until then, no action will be taken,” Wolf spokeswoman Lyndsay Kensinger said.
“The disaster proclamation has not been terminated by the House or Senate’s actions. Only the governor can terminate the disaster emergency.”
The governor says that Article III, Section 9 of the state constitution says that the resolution “shall be presented to the governor and before it shall take effect be approved by him, or being disapproved, shall be re-passed by two-thirds of both Houses according to the rules and limitations prescribed in case of a bill.”
However, House Republicans argue a different section of the constitution gives the state legislature the authority to terminate the disaster emergency declaration.
“That yes vote is a reflection of your constituents who have said enough is enough,” Republican Rep. Russ Diamond said.
“That yes vote brings an end to our long collective nightmare.”
Corman added, “We’re reclaiming our rights. It’s time. The fear is over.”
“Termination of a disaster emergency in Pennsylvania signals to the federal government that COVID-19 is no longer ‘of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the state and the affected local governments,'” the letter read.
“More importantly, if the Commonwealth acts to end its disaster emergency, it signals to the federal government that supplementary federal assistance is no longer needed.”
The issue could be solved in the courts or the governor may decide to issue a new emergency disaster declaration.
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