Pa. Senate votes to reign in governor’s emergency powers


HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — State Republicans have complained about the Wolf Administration’s handling of the pandemic – some even going as far to call him a dictator for his business shutdowns and mask mandates.

Senate Bill 2 would reign in power for Governor Tom Wolf and future governors.

Wolf first declared the emergency disaster declaration in March, which lasted 90 days, extending it every time it was set to end.

The declaration instilled powers to issue and end executive orders and regulations. It also helped hand out emergency supplies and equipment, and allows them to suspend laws and regulations.

Senate Bill 2 would end the disaster declaration after 21 days. Lawmakers would have to approve an extension through a majority vote. To end it, lawmakers would need a two-thirds majority vote.

Wolf says this is not the time to change this power. He says it will hurt the state’s response to disasters and politicize the response.

Republicans say they want to make sure people on the county level are able to make decisions for their communities.

“It is no laughing matter. There is a reason why local governments responding is critical and important,” Senator Scott Martin said. “Just as it is important to have the backup power of the governor through PEMA and FEMA to support those local efforts.”

Every Republican and just one Democrat voted to pass Senate Bill 2. It now moves to the House since it would change the state’s constitution.

Voters will have their say on the issue through a statewide referendum. The House will have to pass the bill by Feb. 18 in order for it to be on the ballot in time for the May primary.

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