After weeks of scrutiny over his controversial lockdown orders and restrictions, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) is losing Democrats as bipartisan majorities in both chambers of the state’s legislature passed a resolution ending his emergency declaration spurred by the coronavirus.
The resolution, lawmakers say, effectively ends the emergency declaration, which Wolf originally signed on March 6. The order was set to expire June 4, but the governor renewed it the day prior, stating that such action “helps state agencies with resources and supports as we continue mitigation and recovery.”
The resolution passed with bipartisan support in both chambers, 31-19 in the Senate and 121-81 in the House.
“That yes vote is a reflection of your constituents who have said enough is enough. That yes vote brings an end to our long collective nightmare,” state Rep. Russ Diamond (R), who sponsored the resolution, stated.
All Pennsylvania businesses may or may not reopen without any COVID-19-related restrictions. Gov. Tom Wolf’s red, yellow, green reopening plan may or may not now be part of the state’s history. People may or may not gather in large congregant settings.
If that leaves you confused, welcome to the current state of affairs in Pennsylvania. We now live in uncharted waters.
The GOP-controlled General Assembly on Tuesday passed a concurrent resolution that directs Wolf to issue a proclamation or executive order to end the COVID-19 disaster emergency that the governor issued on March 6 and renewed on June 3.
According to Republicans, the measure is a done deal and does not need to be presented to Wolf, but the governor’s office sharply disagrees.
Wolf spokeswoman Lyndsay Kensinger said the governor’s proclamation “has not been terminated by the House or Senate’s actions,” adding that the power of termination rests with the governor alone.
“When the concurrent resolution is presented to him, as the Constitution requires, he will disapprove it,” Kensinger said. “Until then, no action will be taken.”
Senate GOP leadership spokesperson Jennifer Kocher disagreed, contending that “nothing in the statute requires the resolution to go to the Governor for signature/veto.”
“A concurrent resolution ending a disaster declaration is not an exercise of the legislature’s lawmaking authority that the Gov can sign/veto,” she explained.
“The Governor will be statutorily required to issue an order terminating the declaration in compliance with section 7301 if the House passes the resolution as adopted by the Senate,” she added. “He has no discretion in this matter”:
Nothing in the statute requires the resolution to go to the Governor for signature/veto. A concurrent resolution ending a disaster declaration is not an exercise of the legislature’s lawmaking authority that the Gov can sign/veto.
— Jenn Kocher (@jkocher156) June 9, 2020
Pursuant to 35 Pa.C.S. 7301(c), upon the passage by the House and Senate of a concurrent resolution terminating a disaster declaration, “the Governor SHALL (emphasis added) issue an executive order or proclamation ending the state of disaster emergency.”
— Jenn Kocher (@jkocher156) June 9, 2020
Kensinger, however, also said the resolution “would not affect the Secretary of Health’s order including business closure orders, building safety orders, and business safety orders, and therefore the Administration’s phased reopening plan and associated orders would remain in place even if it passes.”
The sharp disagreement between lawmakers and the governor’s office could, as the PA Post noted, set up a “potential legal battle over next steps.”
“A source close to the GOP leadership predicted that Wolf will take the legislature to court,” the outlet added.
The news comes as Wolf continues touting the Keystone State’s phased reopening plan, which has, over the weeks, restricted many businesses from operating.
All 67 counties in the state are either in the yellow or green phase of reopening.
Wolf recently came under fire after violating the guidelines explicitly warning against gathering in large groups, attending a protest in Harrisburg. He later admitted that it was “inconsistent” for him to participate.