Pennsylvania voters made the commonwealth the first to restrict the governor’s authority during an emergency disaster situation by passing the Legislative Resolution to Extend or Terminate Emergency Declaration Amendment and the Emergency Declarations Amendment Tuesday.
The first of these constitutional amendments provides that the Pennsylvania General Assembly may pass a resolution, not able to be vetoed by the governor, to either end or extend the governor’s emergency declaration. The second limits a governor’s emergency declaration to 21 days, after which a legislative vote will determine whether to extend or end the emergency declaration, and provides that the legislature shall pass laws that dictate how the government should manage disaster emergencies. The first amendment received 52.37 percent of votes, while the second received 52.32 percent of votes.
The amendments were proposed due to dissatisfaction with Governor Tom Wolf’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic. Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel tweeted, “Last night, Pennsylvanians voted to reject Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf’s overreach of executive powers after his failed COVID response—a clear sign of accountability coming in 2022.”
On Thursday, Wolf renewed the Proclamation of Disaster Emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic, stating, “[W]e need just a little more time under this current disaster declaration to ensure that we do not risk valuable resources that will help Pennsylvania recover from the pandemic.”