WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Pennsylvania has voted to change the state’s constitution, limiting the governor’s powers during disaster emergency declarations.
After Pennsylvania’s disaster declaration at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, many question Governor Tom Wolf’s authority to shut down the state’s economy. The declaration is what allowed him to order the closure of nonessential businesses.
On Tuesday, the state voted to make two amendments to the state constitution. The first will give the state legislature the power to end or extend a disaster emergency declaration by simple majority. The second amendment will limit declarations to 21 days, leaving it up to the legislature to extend it.
“We had a long period to see if the system worked and I think there was some thought that we could do better. I’m looking forward to working with the legislature to see if we can make this work,” Wolf said.
Wolf says he is not taking the vote to amend the constitution as feedback on how he chose to handle the pandemic.
“I’m not. I think it’s a sense that we had a chance to see how the system as it’s in place worked over the extended pandemic,” Wolf said.
The Pennsylvania GOP Chairman Lawrence Tabas, however, disagrees.
“Last night, Pennsylvanians voted to end the lockdown, restart the economy, reopen our schools and put a stop to Governor Tom Wolf’s dictatorship. The passage of amendments one and two sends a clear message; voters do not want the governor’s office to wield limitless, unchecked power,” Tabas said.
More information about the ballot questions can be found on the government website.
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