PA Constitutional Amendments Would Limit PA Governor’s Authority During Emergency Declaration



Passed by the House on Tuesday and the Senate on Wednesday, Senate Bill 1166 would amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to require the governor to seek legislative approval to continue any disaster declaration beyond 21 days and clarifies that a concurrent resolution ending a disaster declaration passed by the House and the Senate does not need to be presented to the governor to become effective.

The constitutional amendment, which also made it illegal to deny equality of rights based on race or ethnicity, passed both chambers with bipartisan support.

“Amending our state Constitution is not something we should take lightly; however, we believe doing so is necessary,” said Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff on the House passage of Senate Bill 1166. “Our communities should decide for themselves how they wish to be governed.”

The constitutional amendments would need to pass the General Assembly again next session and then be approved by the voters in order to become effective.

Proving the point that an extraordinary change like amending the state Constitution is necessary, however, Gov. Wolf once again issued another unilateral shutdown order that is likely to have devastating effects on restaurants, employees and other small businesses.

In fact, the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association noted, “There is no scenario that restaurants can survive,” the governor’s latest restrictions.

The House Republican Caucus was also active in pushing back against the governor’ s continued overreach, which once again included an end-run around the people’s representatives in the General Assembly.

“The irreversible impact of his countless, confusing orders cannot be overstated,” Benninghoff said in a statement. “Gov. Wolf’s decision today will close the doors of some small businesses forever and devastate the livelihoods of so many Pennsylvanians who were just beginning to feel hopeful for the future.”

As the House Republican Caucus continues to lead on Pennsylvania’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the caucus was also instrumental in passing House Bill 732, which would create hundreds of jobs and bring significant investment in central and northeastern Pennsylvania by attracting fertilizer and petrochemical facilities to the region.

“This tax credit further opens the door for manufacturers to not only establish roots here in Pennsylvania, but to generate large revenues, boost our region’s economy and provide vast opportunities for job growth,” said Representative Aaron Kaufer (R-Luzerne), who led the House effort on the legislation. “Again, this is an once-in-a-lifetime chance for Pennsylvania, especially the northeast region, as it will also allow us to use cost-effective, accessible natural gas to compete with overseas manufacturers.”

According to one estimate, more than 4,400 jobs and over $1.6 billion in economic benefits would be generated from the construction of four manufacturing facilities as a result of the legislation.

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