HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Opioids will no longer be a declared emergency in Pennsylvania. The state legislature told Governor Wolf on Thursday that it will not renew his declaration when it expires in three weeks.
A letter by Republican leaders officially notified the governor that his fifteenth disaster declaration on opioids will be his last. The legislature flexing its newly gained muscle and asserting its power.
“It’s time for him to sit down and figure out the legislative solutions to this rather than trying to make an end around the legislature and do this on his own. That’s what the people of Pennsylvania don’t want,” House GOP Spokesman, Jason Gottesman said.
The people of Pennsylvania, through a constitutional amendment, gave the legislature veto power over a governor’s disaster declarations. But addiction counselors are concerned. “I’m out there seeing these people overdosing, people that are dying. The rates are going up,” Recovery Specialist with the Rase Project, Jessica Miller said.
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Miller hoped lawmakers would re-up the disaster declaration which she insists saved lives. “The warm handoff program that was initiated, the drug take-back, the naloxone, all of that plus many more things have been amazing and we have to keep going because the overdose rates are not going down,” Miller said.
“It’s disappointing” began a statement from the Wolf Administration which fears the opioid battle “will be left with a gap as we seek a legislative solution.” But lawmakers say they understand that ending the declaration doesn’t end the scourge of addiction.
“We want to work collaboratively. House, Senate, governor, to get things solved for the people of Pennsylvania so that we can get to the heart of the opioid crisis. An emergency declaration is not the way to go about that,” Gottesman said.