Pennsylvania voters approved constitutional amendments proposed Republican lawmakers upset over Gov. Tom Wolf’s handling of the COVID outbreak.
One amendment is called the Legislative Resolution to Extend or Terminate Emergency Declaration Amendment. It seeks to allow the Pennsylvania legislature to pass a resolution to extend or terminate the governor’s emergency declaration by a majority vote unable to be vetoed by the governor.
This amendment passed on May 18 with 52.97 percent of the vote.
The Emergency Declaration Amendment proposed limiting the governor’s emergency declarations to a 21-day period unless the legislature votes on a concurrent resolution to extend the order and passes laws related to how disaster emergencies must be managed.
This amendment passed as well with 52.93 percent support.
Bryan Cutler, Speaker of the House, and Kerry Benninghoff, House Majority Leader, (both Republicans) issued a statement on the voters’ nod of approval for the amendments.
“The people of Pennsylvania have exercised their vote and resoundingly reaffirmed their desire for a government with strong checks and balances that works in their interests and not for its own power. In doing so, they have rejected the mutation of emergency authority into unilateral, one-person control that seeks expediency over the rule of law,” it said. “To those contemplating litigation to stop the enforcement of the emergency disaster-related amendments: Think twice before again ignoring the voice of the people.”
Wolf, the governor, strongly opposed the amendments.
Previously, the constitution of Pennsylvania required a two-thirds majority vote to end a governor’s disaster declaration. The governor was allowed to issue an emergency declaration for up to 90 days and extend it without limit.