Survey

Amending the PA Constitution to Limit a Governor’s Disaster Declaration to 21 Days

General Assembly must approve any extension beyond 21 Days 

Survey for 28th Senatorial District Residents

Senate Bill 2 would limit a governor’s ability to renew his or her emergency declaration beyond 21 days. As a constitutional amendment, the legislation would need to be approved by the General Assembly. Should the legislature approve the measure, voters will have the ultimate say and either approve or reject changes to their state constitution.

By way of background, Governor Wolf signed his 12th renewal of the opioid disaster declaration on November 12, 2020. This declaration has been in place since January 2018 with no legislative input. Furthermore, on March 6, 2020, the governor signed his initial COVID-19 disaster declaration aimed at providing increased support for state’s response to the pandemic.

In the 10 months that followed, little to no legislative input has been incorporated into the state’s mitigation strategies. Most state agencies have worked remotely, providing very little clarity into questions and concerns from the state’s nearly 13 million residents.

As the state senator of the 28th District, the last 10 months have been increasingly frustrating to explain just a few of the following issues I’ve heard about from you – the residents of the 28th District:

  • Why nursing homes are required to accept new COVID-19 positive patients when we know the elderly are most susceptible to complications from the virus.
  • Why businesses operating within the same industry have waiver requests rejected when competitors could operate.
  • Why the state’s unemployment compensation system was woefully unprepared despite the administration discussing the pandemic at the end of 2019 through cabinet meetings.
  • Why teachers, police officers and first responders cannot receive the COVID-19 vaccine before smokers.
  • Why business closures are abrupt with no communication to those most impacted – the owners and employees.
  • Why the governor continues to leave non-profits, healthcare providers, school districts, colleges and small businesses open to frivolous lawsuits despite following all of his unilateral mandates.
  • Why big box retailers were never shuttered, despite selling the same products as locally owned small businesses that were forced to close their doors.
  • Why the state-owned liquor monopoly was afforded the opportunity to offer curbside service, but our locally owned retailers were not.
  • Why protesters seeking to reopen the state are a “public health risk,” but not individuals participating in other First Amendment protests.
  • Why dental offices were closed but abortion clinics could remain open.

All of these decisions originated from Governor Wolf and his Administration with no input or approval by the state’s duly elected 253 members of the General Assembly. You may agree with these decisions or disagree with these decisions. However, should the legislature approve Senate Bill 2, you will get the final say in whether a governor can impose unilateral restrictions after three weeks through an emergency declaration without the legislature’s consent.


My latest legislative survey has ended, but you are still able to submit comments on any state-related matter by emailing me here.

Sincerely,

 

Kristin Phillips-Hill
Senator, 28th District