PA voters limited the Governor’s emergency declaration powers. Now what?

Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Governor Wolf renewed his pandemic disaster declaration on Thursday. But, now the state legislature has the power to revoke a Governor’s disaster declaration because of two constitutional amendments that voters passed on Tuesday.

On election day Pennsylvania voters passed 2 new constitutional amendments, giving the legislature the power to end a disaster declaration and any state of emergency the Governor puts into place automatically ends after 21 days unless the legislature extends it.

It’s a blow to Democratic Governor Tom Wolf and a win for Republicans who hold a majority in the state legislature.

“There’s no question that I opposed this. I said that many times in many different ways,” Wolf said.

PA House Republican spokesman Jason Gottesman said voters made it clear that they want lawmakers to have a say.

“They, by an overwhelming margin, said they want more oversight, more input from the General Assembly,” Gottesman said.

Despite that Republican Senator Ryan Aument said the Governor’s team has started working with lawmakers to implement the changes.

“By all accounts the Governor is cooperating, working with the General Assembly, respecting the will of the people.”

“We’re starting that conversation. You can’t just flick a switch and make changes,” Wolf said. “But the voters have spoken and we’re going to do what I think the voters expect us to do and that’s make the best of it.”

Before the changes technically take effect, the election results have to be certified, which could take a few more days.

“It’s very complicated but long story short right now, while the Constitution will have been amended from election day, that doesn’t happen until the vote is certified,” Gottesman said.

That means the 21-day clock will be retroactive on the emergency declaration renewed on Thursday, which means both Democratic and Republican leaders are planning and preparing now.

“We have a responsibility to do our due diligence in the coming days and work with the Governor to chart out a path,” Aument said.

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