Gov. Wolf to veto bill giving schools power to determine sporting attendance

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Governor Wolf plans to veto a bill that allows school districts — not the state — to decide how many spectators can come to games this fall.

Within about an hour after the Senate passed House Bill 2787, the Governor’s office threw a flag on the play, calling the bill unnecessary and bringing up the fact that schools already have the power to decide if they want to have sports this season.

Although, considering the bill’s bipartisan support, this decision might not be popular with the rest of his team — the legislators.

“Once those kids graduate and they’re off to college, you’re not gonna get that opportunity again. It’s something that we hold very dear as parents,” said Sen. Mario Scavello, (R) Monroe, Northampton Counties.

Right now, the governor’s recommendation only allows 250 people to attend events outside and just 25 people indoors. HB2787 leaves it up to the school’s discretion.

“Let them decide. No one has more at stake than the health of the children and the health of their community than the local school district,” said Sen. Jake Corman, (R) Majority Leader, Centre, Huntingdon, Juniata, Mifflin Counties.

The bill passed in the Senate 39-11, meaning many Democrats voted, “yes.” Republicans said they wanted to get it passed before the Governor turned his gathering recommendations into orders.

“What the governor giveth, the governor taketh away,” Corman said.

In this case, vetoed away.

In a statement, the Governor’s office said:

The governor plans to veto the bill. The bill is unnecessary given that school districts already have local control on decisions on school sports. Further the virus is not stopping and spreads more easily when people are in close proximity with one another. This bill would allow for the potential gathering of thousands in close proximity, a widely-reported, well-known public health risk. We should focus on preventing the spread and creating a safe environment for children students back to learning and, if possible, in the classroom. Minimizing exposure to COVID-19 is paramount.

Instead of passing unnecessary legislation like this, the Republican legislative majority should do things to help people impacted by the pandemic like funding for small businesses, child care funding, and paid sick leave for employees. The governor outlined a comprehensive plan to provide relief for workers and families, support for businesses, and reform for government. The legislature should stop wasting time and pass the governor’s plan to help Pennsylvanians.

Senate Republicans are not convinced. They said the Governor’s numbers are arbitrary and his actions are hypocritical, especially considering the size of some stadiums that could socially distant seat more than 250 people at a facility.

“People aren’t allowed to go to an outdoor football stadium, that may hold 4,000 or 5,000 — yet they’re allowed to go to a car show,” said Sen. Wayne Langerholic, (R) Camrbia, Clearfield Counties.

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