Pa. Senate votes to end pandemic emergency declaration

Pennsylvania Politics

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The Senate voted Thursday, June 10, to end Governor Tom Wolf’s emergency declaration orders. However, the move still ensures Pennsylvania can take necessary steps to recover, according to Senator Ryan Aument (R-36), who supported the measures.

House Resolution 106 terminates the pandemic emergency declaration and ends the governor’s power to close employers, limit occupancy, suspend state statutes or issue stay-at-home orders due to the dwindling coronavirus pandemic.

Republicans fought to end the governor’s COVID order, which issues closings, stay-at-home orders and capacity limits. Those were in place for a year. Republicans say they’ve now reined in Wolf’s unchecked powers.

“Pennsylvania voters spoke loud and clear on May 18 when they approved the two constitutional amendments limiting a governor’s power during emergencies,” Aument said. “We heard them, and today we acted to end the Governor’s unchecked power and give Pennsylvanians the freedom they’ve been demanding for months.”

The new development comes weeks after Governor Tom Wolf drew criticism for signing a renewal on May 20.

“I rise in strong opposition and utter shock that this process has become so politicized that we are willing to end an emergency declaration before the emergency is over,” Sen. Katie Muth (D) said.

While, most of the governor’s restrictions under the emergency declaration have expired, the governor’s office says the mask-mandate remains in place for people who are not fully vaccinated.

The Senate also approved House Bill 854 on Thursday, which ensures all waivers previously effective under the COVID-19 emergency to remain in effect until Sept. 30, 2021, unless sooner terminated.

“Working with the administration and the House, we were able to protect those waivers until the end of September while we back out of the situation we’re in,” Sen. Kim Ward, majority leader, said.

PaSenateDems responded on Twitter saying “While I disagree with the decision to end the emergency declaration in HR106, I will be supporting HB854 which extends many important protections of such a declaration through Sept 30.”

“While many of the provisions in the Governor’s COVID-19 mitigation orders were overburdensome, arbitrary, and unfair, there were some provisions like the telemedicine waiver that we all agree have improved the lives of Pennsylvanians throughout the last year,” Aument said. “We voted today to ensure that these provisions remain in place as our Commonwealth continues to recover and rebuild in the aftermath of this pandemic.”

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