More than half the voters in Pennsylvania chose to strip Governor Tom Wolf of his emergency powers.
Republican legislators in Pennsylvania have been trying to overturn Gov. Wolf’s COVID-19 restrictions, but he blocked all of their attempts. Lawmakers found a way around his vetoes by putting the vote directly to the people. And the people endorsed curbing the governor’s power. From the Inquirer:
Perhaps no decisions by the Wolf administration were as reviled in the GOP-controlled legislature as the ones to temporarily close businesses deemed nonessential and stagger the economy’s reopening to slow the spread of COVID-19. Preventing a similar situation in the future became a selling point as they urged voters to approve the amendments.
“For more than 13 months during the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Wolf has exerted nearly unlimited power to suspend state statutes, spend money without the authorization of the legislature, and close schools and businesses as he saw fit,” Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R., Centre) told reporters last month.
The state allowed governors to issue emergency declarations for up to 90 days and extend them without limit. The legislature needed a two-thirds majority vote to end a governor’s declaration. But voters approved two amendments that would change the required vote to a simple majority and limit disaster declarations to 21 days, down from 90 days. Under the new law, the legislature would extend such declarations, not the governor.
The state must certify the results.
Gov. Wolf opposes the changes but said the “voters have spoken. And we’re going to do what I think the voters expect us to do and to make the best of it.”