Wolf administration campaigns against Pennsylvania emergency powers ballot issues

State law and the emergency power it delegates were designed to deal with more common, short-term disasters like floods and hurricanes. Since the pandemic lasted more than a year and resulted in restrictions on public life, the Republican-controlled state legislature has grown increasingly impatient with Democratic Governor Wolf, who has wielded sole power. to add or remove these restrictions. .

The executive and legislative branches recently worked together under the Joint COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force, which some have held up as an example of more cooperative emergency government.

If the emergency powers ballot initiatives are approved, they argue that cooperation would occur more often.

“[It] works best when all branches are involved and all parties work together,” State Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward said in a statement this week. “The General Assembly is willing and able to contribute positively to the emergency response.”

Acting Chief Medical Officer Denise Johnson said if another long-term emergency hits the Commonwealth, the health sector will need to be as quick on its feet as it has been during the pandemic. She said changing disaster declaration rules to require more back and forth between lawmakers could slow it down.

“We had incredible flexibility to be able to expand licenses and bring in more providers to care for patients, and with those flexibilities we were able to continue to deliver high-quality care to Pennsylvanians,” she said.

Legislation like Bill 1011 aims to make many of these temporary health care regulatory changes permanent, and supporters have backed it as another way for lawmakers to be as responsive to emergencies as the executive power.

They also repeatedly pointed out that if voters approved either amendment this month, the current COVID-19 disaster declaration would technically still be in effect.

“Legislators should still vote to end it and Governor Wolf could spend some time talking to them (which he rarely does) to convince them of the need to continue for their constituents,” Commonwealth Foundation Michael Torres wrote. in an email.

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